John 3:22-36

Divide or multiply?

In the place where John the Baptist was baptising, his disciples had an argument with the Jewish teachers over the ceremonial law of washing. They also complained to John about the fact that Jesus was also baptising and people were flocking to Him. Does this not sound rather like little children and their friendships in school playgrounds today?

But, if we are honest, it is how Christians in general behave in some churches today. When we are not looking at other churches and finding things to condemn them for, we are looking within our own church to criticise different leaders or departments for how they are doing things, or for many different reasons. We don't want people to look at our shortcomings so we point the finger at others and sow seeds of discord, discontent and doubt.

John the Baptist overcame this problem by focusing on his devotion to Jesus Christ. When we talk and share our excitement about all that Jesus has done for each of us and live our lives according to His word, it does not cause division but brings us together and shows the world that Jesus really is alive today. (John 17:20-23)

Jesus’ priorities

We are all "called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28-31; Romans 8:34-35; Romans 8:37; Colossians 3:15; Ephesians 4:1-2) But Jesus also had priorities.

1) He valued people in the same way that God does.

  • He saved, healed, blessed and encouraged people.
  • He called them.
  • He taught them.
  • He prayed for them.
  • He paid for them.
  • He commissioned them.
  • He arose and accompanied them.

2) He emphasised these vital facts:

  • My Father is your Father. (John 14:8-11; Matthew 6:9; John 20:17)
  • I am in My Father, you are in Me and I am in you. (John 14:20)
  • Behave as I do. Use my name and you will get greater results. (John 14:12)
  • Share the good news with everyone. (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8)
  • I will be with you for ever. (Mark 16:20; Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5)

If we set our minds to it and speak these vital facts, they will become so much part of us that we will come to really believe them, put them into action and be transformed by them.

3) He taught and demonstrated these five vital keys to basic living:

  • Pardon for our past. (Matthew 26:28; Romans 3:21-25)
  • Peace for our present. (John 14:27; 16:33; Acts 10:35-37.)
  • Restoration of people to God. (Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17)
  • Power for our progress. (John 14:12-13; Ephesians 1:18-20; Zechariah 4:6)

Further examples

  • Stephen - full of faith and power. (Acts 6:8)
  • Paul - shared Christ and preached the good news. (Ephesians 3:6-7)
  • The power of the good news. (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18)

Our attitudes towards people

  • The inheritance that is yours if you ask. (Psalm 2:8)
  • Be people-touchers and people-healers. (Mark 16:15-20)
  • Those inside or outside the church - wherever they live in the world – it’s all about people!

Know where your security lies

Those not in God's kingdom are looking for pardon, peace, good plans and power in all sorts of places. They learn about other religions and philosophies (such as "new age" thinking); they seek answers in chemicals, alcohol, psychology, discipline, penance and the occult. But we know who we are in Jesus Christ and to whom we are connected.

  • How can you crawl when you are a king?
  • How can you beg when you are royalty?
  • How can you lose when you have His victory?
  • How can you cower when you are redeemed?
  • How can you moan when you have His song?
  • How can you die inside when you have His life?

When we live by God’s standard, we shall find that Jesus is becoming greater and greater whilst we become less and less. (John 3:30) John the Baptist stated this as the key to his exceptionally successful life. (Matthew 11:11) We must follow his example if we are to serve the coming King and see with our own eyes the greatest revival in the whole of history. John the Baptist literally lost his head for following Jesus. (Matthew 14:10) When we see, as John did, that there is a price to pay and that we certainly are no better than Jesus who was persecuted and killed, then we will choose to be "crucified with Christ" daily. (Galatians 2:20) This means not doing things for our glory, but giving Him control of everything that we do. It means not doing things that attract attention to us instead of Him. As we learn humility, we shall constantly do things that bring glory and praise to the name of Jesus Christ.

Keep focused on Jesus

We need to examine our hearts in the light of John’s life and make sure that it is Christ (and Christ alone) who is at the centre of our lives. (Colossians 1:18-19) When we have amazing experiences of God’s power through His Holy Spirit, we must still want Christ Himself more than what He can do for us. We must allow other peoples’ work for God to flourish, even when our own work is not getting any credit, because we want the name (character) of Jesus to be lifted up more than anything else. When we constantly keep Jesus' death in the forefront of our thoughts, our lives will be a mirror of His word and we will just "flow" in the love of God without "trying". Such a life will be very fruitful for the kingdom of God.

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