If you’ve ever tried to elevate a role or a position that you’re in above its intended place, then you have a sense of where the disciples of John the Baptist are at. But this attempted elevation of a role exposes an identity that’s rooted outside of who we are in Christ. This passage is helping us to find our place in Jesus. The totality of who we are and what we proclaim is defined in Jesus.
1. We Find our Identity and Joy in Jesus: v.22-30
In this first section, we see John’s disciples coming to John concerned that many are now going to Jesus instead of John. What should have been a source of celebration, is anything but for them. The reason for this is they’ve misplaced where their identity comes from. God is graciously exposing that in them, and will use John the Baptist to help lead them to an identity that is found in Christ. But this is crucial for us to see, because any identity that we have that comes outside of Christ, we fight to maintain. Loved one, do you hold to an identity in someone or something outside of Jesus? These questions might help us to diagnose this possible issue: If you lost _____ would you still be you? If you couldn’t do _____ would you still be you? If you didn’t have _____ would you still be you? If any part of these questions change our identity, they bear out that we’re finding identity outside of Christ. What John helps us to see is there is joy in finding identity in Christ!
There are a few ways that we see this joy in our identity in Jesus. First, there’s joy in who we aren’t. John’s response to his disciples is helping them to see who they aren’t. They aren’t the ones who created this platform or position, and they certainly aren’t the Messiah. It’s freeing for us to know who we aren’t. We don’t have to compete, compare or be jealous. We can be thankful for who we are in Jesus, and not worry about who we aren’t. Further, there’s great joy in knowing who we are. Specifically in this text, we see that John identifies as the friend of the bridegroom. His joy is directly tied to the joy of the groom. His identity is subsumed by the groom. This is true of us and Christ. Our joy is tied to our identity in Jesus.
Where are you finding your identity? Is it in performance, comparison and competition? Or is it in the person of Jesus who frees us from all of that? There’s great joy in finding our true identity, which is in the person of Jesus.
2. We Proclaim the Supremacy of Jesus: v.31-36
In addition to identity, we see the message that we are to proclaim about Jesus. This upcoming Sunday, we’re going to deviate away from John and preach through a text that helps us to more fully understand this. But here in John 3, we see a few things that we proclaim about Jesus. First, we proclaim that He is above all. This means that Jesus is supreme in our lives and over all things. This means that Jesus has the freedom to tell us what to do and when to do it. Secondly, we see that Jesus is the true witness. Jesus bears perfect witness about Himself, and we are to listen to Him. Finally, we see that we’re called to believe in the Son. When we believe in the Son it leads to eternal life. But when we reject that, when there is a lack of belief; it leads to wrath. We must take serious this final warning that is offered about our following of the Lord. We are to proclaim the supremacy of Jesus to others, as well as preaching this to ourselves. God helps us that this would be true for us.