Feb 11, 2009

Devotional - John's testimony about Jesus

(Joh 3:22)  After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

(Joh 3:23)  And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

(Joh 3:24)  For John was not yet cast into prison.

(Joh 3:25)  Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.

(Joh 3:26)  And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.

(Joh 3:27)  John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

(Joh 3:28)  Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.

(Joh 3:29)  He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

(Joh 3:30)  He must increase, but I must decrease.

(Joh 3:31)  He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

(Joh 3:32)  And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.

(Joh 3:33)  He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

(Joh 3:34)  For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

(Joh 3:35)  The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.

(Joh 3:36)  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

How little did the Jews understand the character of John the Baptist! Some of them thought that he would be jealous of the Lord Jesus. How was that possible, when he came into the world to bear witness to Him, and to persuade men to believe in Him? Some people came to John, complaining that Jesus baptized, and that all men came to him. John earnestly desired that all men would come to Christ; not come to him only to be baptized with water, but to be washed from their sins, and baptized with the Holy Spirit. 

John's answer shows in the most beautiful manner the humility of his heart and the sincerity of his love to Christ. Though he had been much admired as a preacher, he was not lifted up with pride. He knew and declared that "a man can receive nothing, unless it be given him from above." O that we could always keep this truth in our minds! Then we would perceive the folly of pride, as well as its wretchedness. What have we that we have not received? Yet how apt we are to be puffed up, as though we had not received, and even to boast to others of our abilities, our possessions, our numerous friends, and amiable qualities! We ought only to feel thankful to God for his gifts, and to humble ourselves in his sight, because we are unworthy of his notice; this is what the angels do who excel in strength, in wisdom, and in beauty. How dreadful it is when we feel proud of God's spiritual blessings! If he has put grace in our hearts, or enabled us to convert others, how unspeakably thankful we should be! To be proud of such mercies is, indeed, the blackest ingratitude. 

John the Baptist was full of love to the Savior; he compared him to a bridegroom, and himself to the bridegroom's friend. The bride is the church, Christ's believing people. It was John's desire to lead all men to love Christ. He had succeeded in persuading some to love him, and now he knew that Jesus was rejoicing over these believers. To hear the bridegroom's voice was his chief joy; he delighted in praising the bridegroom! He called himself earthly, but he declared Jesus to be heavenly, for he came from above. He himself had only received a measure of the Spirit; but Jesus had received the Spirit without measure, that is, in an infinite degree. 

He then described the exceeding happiness of believers in Christ, and the miserable condition of unbelievers. These are John's words—"He who believes on the Son has everlasting life, and he who believes not shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." It is not said, that he who believes shall have everlasting life, but that he has even now everlasting life. It is not said that he who believes not, shall taste the wrath of God, but that now the wrath of God abides on him. Every person is at this moment in one of these conditions; he either has everlasting life, or he is under the wrath of God. How very happy, or how very miserable every person ought to be! Ought not that person to be miserable, who knows that at any moment he may be snatched away from the scene of his enjoyments? If we were to see a man living in splendor, in a magnificent house, surrounded by luxuries, and were told that he had immense debts, and that numerous creditors might at any moment thrust him into prison, would we count him happy? He could not be happy, if he reflected upon his circumstances. Perhaps he would not reflect; perhaps he would run from one diversion to another, and thus endeavor to keep up his spirits. Now all unbelievers owe an immense debt to the justice of God, and they are in danger at any moment of being thrust into prison, even that prison of hell from where none ever escape. They would not enjoy a moment's peace if they reflected on their condition. 

How different is the state of the believer! If you were to see a poor man, coarsely clothed and scantily fed, and if you were to be assured he was the heir of a large estate, you would expect him to bear his present hardships without murmuring. If we believe in the Son of God, we are the heirs of God; we were his debtors, but Christ paid our debt by his blood, and when we believed, we were free from it; and not only so, but we were made the heirs of a heavenly kingdom. Ought we not to rejoice exceedingly, and to reckon nothing of our present losses and disappointments, because of the great inheritance promised to us?