Leader Bible Study
Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the prophets had spoken of a forerunner—someone who would get people ready for Jesus. (Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1) At just the right time, “John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). These baptisms were an outward sign of cleansing for people who had repented of their sins.
John’s followers were concerned when they saw Jesus and His disciples, who were baptizing people too. They came to John, who pointed out several things about himself and about Jesus. Consider these comparisons as John explained that Jesus was greater than John.
First, who were they? John was clear: “I am not the Messiah” (John 3:28). John was not the bridegroom, but the groom’s friend. Jesus is the bridegroom. (John 3:29)
Where did they come from? John was from the earth, and he belonged to the earth. Jesus comes from above and is above all. (John 3:31)
What did they do? John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John was a witness to the Light. (John 1:7-8) He was a voice in the wilderness, and Jesus is the Word. (John 1:14,23) John the Baptist told people to get ready for the Messiah. He baptized with water, but Jesus baptized with the Spirit. (John 1:33)
Finally, why were they here? John went before Jesus and rejoiced with Him. (John 3:28-29) Jesus came to give eternal life. (John 3:36)
John described his joy as being complete. (John 3:29) The One for whom he had prepared the people was here. The time had come for John to step aside and let Jesus take the spotlight. John’s mission was complete.
The BIBLE Story
John Pointed to Jesus
Matthew 3; John 1; 3
Jesus and His disciples went out into the countryside. People came to see them, and Jesus taught the people. Many people were baptized.
Nearby, John the Baptist was baptizing people too. Some of the people who followed John got into an argument. They went to John.
“Teacher,” they said, “remember the man you talked about, the One who was with you on the other side of the Jordan River? His disciples are baptizing people, and people are starting to follow Him.”
John’s followers were talking about Jesus. John answered them, “You heard me say that I am not the Messiah. I am the messenger who goes before Him to announce that He is coming.” This was true. John had said, “Someone greater than me is coming. I am not worthy to remove His sandals. I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
John tried to explain by talking about a wedding. When two people get married, the man who marries the bride is the groom. His friend stands with him at the wedding, and he is happy to be there and hear the groom’s voice. John also knew that a wedding is the groom’s special day; the groom’s friend should not make it about himself. This was how John felt—like a groom’s friend—because he was happy that Jesus, the Messiah, had come. John said, “Jesus must increase, but I must decrease.”
Then John explained why Jesus was more important than himself. John was from the earth, and he could only talk about things on earth. Jesus—the One who comes from heaven—talked about things in heaven because He had seen them! Still, no one believed what Jesus said.
Whoever believes Jesus knows that God tells the truth. God sent Jesus to earth, and Jesus speaks God’s words.
The Father loves the Son and has given Him power over everything. Whoever believes in the Son will have eternal life, but whoever refuses to believe in the Son will not have eternal life. He will never be able to get away from God’s judgment.
Christ Connection: John the Baptist told people to get ready for Jesus, the promised Messiah. Now that Jesus was on earth, John’s mission was complete. Jesus was greater than John, and John joyfully stepped aside as Jesus began His earthly ministry.
BibleProject is the author and owner of this Content. Please go to www.bibleproject.com to visit their site and to learn more about BibleProject.