John 3:22-36 Losing Supporters

22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”

31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

Losing Supporters

The England national football (soccer) team didn’t fill their stadium for their last friendly with Norway.  After an abysmal performance at the world cup people are not interested in paying a lot of money to see mediocre football (soccer).  If Germany come into town things might change, their football is clinical and crisp.  They have good individual skills but they are always extremely disciplined.  When I moved to Chicago I became a Sox and a Fire fan.  However, I didn’t become a Bears fan.  I am a Vikings fan, but if the season opener is anything to go by people might start selling their season tickets and watching the games from home (if they bother at all).  When our team is outperformed by other teams it is hard to keep up our support.  Sometimes though it is the right thing to move on and change allegiance.  In sports a geographic change might change perspective, in the passage the end of an era justifies the change.

Early in the gospels John prepares the way.  That was his role.  However, when Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee and Judea what is John’s role?  John’s disciples are concerned that John is losing support, but John has a healthy perspective.  It is time for his support to decline.  There is a time to prepare for the Lord, there is a time to follow him.

We can learn the same thing about our attachment to ministers or family and friends.  It is good when someone points us to Jesus, but Jesus should continually be exalted as the main thing.  It is good when our ministry points to Jesus, but sometimes a ministry runs its course and should go away.  Sometimes a minister becomes a distraction from Jesus.  The sign obscures the road along which we should travel. 


Jesus, may we ever point to you.  Let us not be self-important and proud.  Let us be more like John the Baptist.  Also, let us not get obsessed with an individual in this life when the purpose of all existence is to point to you.


  1. Who has concerns?
  2. Who might the ‘certain Jew’ be?
  3. How is John a model for us here?
  4. How might you decrease?
  5. Who might you ‘decrease’ in your sphere of living so that Jesus might increase?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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24 Responses to John 3:22-36 Losing Supporters

  1. Jenna says:

    1. One of John’s disciples and a “certain Jew” were concerned that Jesus was baptizing and taking John’s followers.
    2. Maybe a pharisee or priest?
    3. John humbly accepts that his time is coming to a close, and welcomes the new way that God is going to work.
    4. I could decrease in leading the small group on my floor my letting God dictate what we discuss – being open to God’s leading as I prepare and when we’re in small group!
    5. I want to focus less on my relationship with people and more on my relationship with God.

  2. Mary says:

    1. John’s disciples and a certain Jew (or some manuscripts read “some Jews”)
    2. I suppose maybe one or more of Jesus’ disciples who were doing the baptizing for Jesus, or a Levite or priest mentioned earlier in 1:19-28. I am inclined to think the former because John’s disciples are arguing with him/them, which leads me to believe the person(s) John’s disciples are arguing with were arguing in favor of more people going to Jesus.
    3. Sometimes we need to actively do ministry and sometimes we need to just get out of the way and let God work. Second, we are to find joy in God receiving the praise rather than taking the praise ourselves, because it is He who makes the seeds grow that we plant in the hearts of others. Not to diminish our effort though, which will receive its reward.
    4. Sometimes I think I talk more about what I am doing for God than about what He is doing for me, which is definitely not proportionate to what actually goes on, because He is blessing me ALL THE TIME. Don’t get me wrong, my motive is not self-serving, this is one of my gateways to open up conversation with non-believers. However, I think if I focus my thoughts more on how God blesses me daily, this will come out in my speech more and be a better way to open up conversations that are focused on Him from beginning to end.
    5. Not anyone that I can think of. I don’t have much time to focus on anything other than God (which includes serving at church and going to school) and my marriage.

  3. Karas says:

    John’s disciples have concerns on his behalf.
    I don’t know who the certain Jew was but for some reason I thought of Peter :).
    John has such a beautiful perspective here, seeing God’s glory as more important than his own ministry success and glory. He models for us how to not hold on to what we want or see as the best for us, but to look for God’s will to be accomplished. I have always understood me decreasing to be less of my own will, my own desires, my own way, and more of God in me. I know for me one act of decreasing has been going away to school. I am wondering right now if a certain way of dealing with another situation back home is one way God wants me to decrease, but I am not sure if my will is wrong right now or if the situation is wrong. In my sphere of living, I can decrease my attachment to one church and be open to the idea of being a part of another one.

  4. Chelsea P. says:

    Those who were following John were concerned about him. There were people flocking to the other person instead of to John. Instead of getting puffed up or jealous, John humbly acknowledges his need to submit and follow Jesus. His submission to Jesus was more important than his ministry or reputation. So often I am concerned with how people view me; am I coming across wise? Will them come to me to seek guidance? Am I working hard enough for the Kingdom? Will I be the one that Jesus uses to save my brothers? I need to decrease. Lord, rid me of myself. May I think of myself less and think of Christ more. May I remember that I am but dust, and that I am not needed to do God’s work.

  5. Beth Coale says:

    1. John’s disciples and a certain Jew
    2. Maybe Nicodemus?
    3. He puts the focus on Christ, not himself
    4. By focusing more on how to honor God with my life than trying to prove myself to family/ friends
    5. Maybe I should decrease the value I put on other people’s versions of what success is/ what friends (especially those not living for God) say & think I should be doing with my time/ accomplishing in my life

  6. Dylan says:

    In John 3:22-36 ‘a certain Jew,’ perhaps a Pharisee, provokes John’s disciples to ask why they are losing supporters. John responds by saying his role of preparing the way for Jesus has come to an end. They were never competing to begin with, John new his purpose. Thus, John is a model for us in this passage in that he did amazing work bringing up Godly people but also recognized that God is the one who changes hearts. If we put all our hope in people or things they will fail us and we will feel crushed. I think this is especially easy to fall into with people because we crave personal relationships. To be honest, I sometimes feel depressed when letting go of selfish thoughts or praises of another human being. My sinful nature wants to put me first. But then I think about what my purpose really is; to glorify God. In this case, there is nothing better than to accept my own insignificance. When I stood before the Grand Canyon last winter, like everyone I was visually overwhelmed by its size and beauty. However, the feelings that came rushing toward me after that first glance are what really made the sight an experience. I felt very small, almost helpless, still smiling in disbelief. To think that it is just a small part of what God can create reminds me of who I worship.

    • Plymothian says:

      I like the idea that we are a conduit which the Newsboys sing about. The prayer of St. Francis also talks about us becoming a ‘channel’. A channel or conduit has immense importance but only in so far as in carries forward whatever it contains.

  7. Amy McCashen says:

    1. John’s disciples.
    2. Maybe the certain Jew was one of Jesus’s disciples.
    3. We should be like John and point the way to Jesus. We should not cause people to get distracted by us and leucite of the One we are supposed to be following.
    4. I could decrease in many ways. One of these ways might be serving my husband and friends and family in the self sacrificial way that pleases Jesus.
    5. Maybe I should decrease my desire for acceptance.

  8. Janice Lee says:

    1. John’s disciples and a certain Jew
    2. I agree with Beth; maybe the certain Jew was Nicodemus?
    3. John is a model for us here by saying Jesus must become greater and he must become less. He recognizes who Jesus is and gives Him the highest place in his life.
    4. I might decrease by recognizing how insignificant I am, how great my need for God is, and how great He is. I need to think of God first and foremost and place others before myself.
    5. I might decrease myself and the importance of what other people think of me so that Jesus might increase.

  9. Sara Cavitt says:

    1) Some of John’s disciples and a Jew were concerned when Jesus began baptizing others instead of John baptizing the people.
    2) I looked in a commentary and in a few study Bibles, but I was unable to find who the certain Jew was. Maybe it was Nicodemus, who had been mentioned a few verses earlier?
    3) He is a model for us, because he wasn’t jealous over the attention Jesus was receiving. Instead, he chose to point the people to Jesus.
    4) I can be self-centered and proud, which is an area that I need to decrease in. Instead Jesus and others should be my focus!
    5) I get easily distracted by spending a lot of time with my friends, and I do not spend as much alone time with God in prayer and in my devotionals. My time with Jesus should increase!

  10. Ashley says:

    1. One of John’s disciples and a certain Jew.
    2. The certain Jew could really be any Jew.
    3. John chooses to glorify God and ascribe worth to Jesus.
    4. I can decrease by ceasing to think of myself and continually refocusing my thoughts to Christ and loving others.
    5. I need to decrease myself! I often ask that God would purge the self in me.

  11. Nick says:

    John’s disciples have concerns on behalf of John because people are going and getting baptized by Jesus. I’m not exactly sure who the Jew was; possibly it was Nicodemus as some have suggested or possibly someone who had been baptized by Jesus. John is a model because instead of becoming jealous or concerned that Jesus was stealing some of his ministry, he was happy because he knew that he had come to prepare the way for Jesus, and now it was Jesus’ time to take over that ministry. I can decrease by continually worshipping Him and living a life that acknowledges my surrender to Him. For me, the biggest thing that I have to decrease is my reliance on my identity in sports and my focus on sports to dictate who I am. Often times this gets in the way of my relationship with Jesus and it takes a centerpiece in my life in front of Jesus.

  12. Rachel says:

    The disciples of John had a concern regarding ceremonial washing. The “certain Jew” they were arguing with might be a leader of the Synagogue or a Pharisee. John’s model of self-sacrifice for the cause of Christ is to be emulated. I might decrease in my care of self and absorption in confusing or obsessive thoughts in order to increase the presence of Christ in my life that he might shine forth.

  13. I might decrease by continually living in a way that is not forwarding my selfish dreams and desires, but, as I know the Father more, than I will know how He loves and I can love others. Once my willpower decides to step down and allow me to be a cleansed and open vessel, then the true Light may shine through. Then my desires and emotions will align with His will (whatever that may be) and others will be able to recognize that I stay close with Him (and show love to all) in EVERY situation (good and bad).

  14. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. Who has concerns?
    John’s disciples have concerns.
    2. Who might the ‘certain Jew’ be?
    The text doesn’t say, so I do not have an idea who the certain Jew might be. If he is not one of John’s disciples, it might be a religious ruler like a Pharisee.
    3. How is John a model for us here?
    We also must decrease like John so that God may increase.
    4. How might you decrease?
    By not being prideful and spending too much time talking about myself, but boasting only in the work of Christ.
    5. Who might you ‘decrease’ in your sphere of living so that Jesus might increase?
    Who? Myself. I am just that selfish where I am most concerned with myself, more than anyone else.

  15. Kathleen says:

    1. One of John’t disciples and a certain Jew.
    2. Maybe a Jew with some political influence and that is why they do not name the person.
    3. We must not hold anyone as more important than Christ. We must also not be the person someone looks up to more than Christ either.
    4. By showing and telling others of how God is working in your life. We must continually point to Christ.
    5. Definitely myself and desires. I need to prioritize my life like Jesus would.

  16. zacbodine says:

    Who has concerns?
    John’s guys, they might be out of a job and so they are concerned.
    Who might the ‘certain Jew’ be?
    Dude, I have no idea. I’m thinking a religious leader perhaps.
    How is John a model for us here?
    He understands Christocentric ministry, but he also shows what being truly humble looks like.

    How might you decrease?
    Stop trying to fix others. I am not their Messiah.

    Who might you ‘decrease’ in your sphere of living so that Jesus might increase?
    Would the question rather be who or what? I’m under the impression by this question that I must exclude a person in order to increase in Christ. Perhaps that may be true, but for young professionals it’s kind of easy to look at people who are rough around the edges, who take up your time and cause you to think, and say I should cut them out of my life because I feel like I would grow in Jesus more if they were gone.

  17. nataliaria says:

    John’s disciples are concerned that individuals who had previously followed John are now being baptized by and expressing allegiance to Jesus. I am unsure who the “certain Jew” mentioned here might be, although it would be interesting to hear who it was, especially if it were someone like Saul, or another familiar name (but I do not know if the timing aligns appropriately to support this hypothesis).

    In this passage, John models remarkable ability to relinquish that which he had previous had back into the hands of the Lord. John recognizes that he is not the greatest, but was merely sent as a herald of the Messiah to come, and he embraces this role.

    I believe that I can decrease in relation to those around me by intentionally putting their hearts and stories before what I might like to do or say, and putting more focus on how I might serve and encourage them. I can decrease in relation to God by actively seeking to give Him the recognition for what He has done and continues to do in my life.

  18. Dominic Shortridge says:

    1. John’s disciples have the most concern.
    2. The “certain Jew” could be referring to one who is a Pharisee, because the text points out that they are asking about ceremonial cleansing.
    3. John is not concerned with losing his followers, only that Christ must increase and he must decrease in the eyes of his disciples and the Jews.
    4. I can decrease by allowing others in ministry to be raised up, and to be utilized in my place without being insecure.
    5. Jesus can increase by my personal and public acknowledgement of his possession and his authority over every aspect of my being.

  19. Austin Brose says:

    The disciples are concerned, they are afraid of their position being taken away. The certain Jew could have been Nicodemus, or one of the disciples. John is a model for us by showing that we do not lead people to Christ in order to bring ourselves glory, but to give God the glory. I might decrease by not being so self centered in what I do, but being God centered. I could decrease how much I idolize my SO, and putting Christ at the center instead.

  20. Rebekah Thompson (Bekah) says:

    1) a disciple and a Jew have concerns that Jesus was stealing the followers of John
    2) It could be anyone really
    3) realized that he was not this great somebody, but that God was and that God put him in his position and that he must be second not first.
    4) by the Lords help push aside your pride and hardheadedness, to see yourself as you truly are
    5)Instead of trying to be someone special that people Love be somebody that points to God and puts their focus on the Lord and not others opinions of me

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