Humble Service

Week 22 | Sections 33, 34

Humble ServiceIn these two sections we read once again the witness of John the Baptist who personifies the humility we ought all embrace with the understanding that “He must become greater; I must become less”. We also read of the first account of Jesus’ disciples “doing ministry” – the baptizing of many – more than whom John had baptized thus far.


Section 33
John 3:22-36
22 After these things,1 Jesus came with his disciples into the land of Judea. He stayed there with them, and baptized. 23 John also was baptizing in Enon near Salim,2 because there was much water there. They came, and were baptized. 24 For John was not yet thrown into prison.3 25 There arose therefore a questioning on the part of John’s disciples with some Jews about purification.4¯5   26 They came to John, and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, the same baptizes, and everyone is coming to him.”6 27 John answered, “A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’7 but, ‘I have been sent before him.’8 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice.9 This, my joy, therefore is made full. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.10 31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.11  32 What he has seen and heard, of that he testifies; and no one receives his witness. 33 He who has received his witness has set his seal to this, that God is true.12 34 For he whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for God gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand.13 36 One who believes14 in the Son has eternal life,15 but one who disobeys the Son won’t see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”16

Section 34
John 4:1-4
1 Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself didn’t baptize, but his disciples),17   3 he left Judea, and departed into Galilee. 4 He needed to pass through Samaria.

Luke 3:19-20
19 but Herod the tetrarch,18 being reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things which Herod had done, 20 added this also to them all, that he shut up John in prison.
[one_third last=”no”]Matthew 4:12
12 Now when Jesus heard that John was delivered up, he withdrew into Galilee.19[/one_third]
[one_third last=”no”]Mark 1:14a20
14 Now after John was taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee,[/one_third]
[one_third last=”yes”]Luke 4:14a21
14 Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit22  into Galilee,[/one_third]

Group Dialog:

  1. What rituals (especially baptism) have enriched your faith?
  2. What rituals fall short of satisfying the longing of your soul to be united and reconciled with God? Why? What danger are there in the rituals of the church today?
  3. How is the peace of God obtained? How are we purified from our sin today?
  4. In what ways do you struggle with jealousy? How have you overcome that sin?
  5. What way do pride, jealousy, and human allegiances often divide the body of Christ and the interrupt the work of God among us.
  6. What is your vocation? How have you needed to serve along side of others with a different vocation and spiritual gifts?
  7. If you have you ever experienced a commissioning, or passed on a ministry to another, how did you feel?

Learning Objectives:

disciples who make disciples, Jesus empowers and commissions the disciples to begin serving in ministry, humility of John, the bride belongs to the bridegroom,

Study Notes:

  1. After the Passover, and the evening when Nicodemus visited Jesus. This is about 9-10 months since Jesus’ baptism.
  2. Jesus and his disciples might have been about 30 miles from where John was baptizing people. See the map
  3. Luke 3:19-20 (below) and this Bible timeline
  4. Many struggled with the new permissions and authority that Jesus gave his disciples.  Jesus was showing a new path as he was the Messiah fulfilling the laws and prophecies, which had served their purpose – to prepare and preserve humanity for his coming – at which time he would ransom Israel, and all of humanity from the grips of the devil. Read Heb 9:9-14; Mark 7:2-5; Gal 3:10; Phil 2:9-11; Eph 1:20-21.
  5. The archaeological discovery of the Qumran community shows that there were some Jews who were very concerned with the obedience to the Old Testament laws and customs, such as ceremonial cleansing.
  6. This is a jealous and zealous response of John’s disciples. John’s humble response makes it clear once again that he is not threatened but pleased to fulfill his vocation as the forerunner of the Messiah (Mal 3:1; Lk 3:4-6. See also 2Cor 4:5). Read also: James 3:14-18; 1Cor 3:3-5; Gal 5:20-21; Eccl 4:4. Such vanity and jealousy does not come from the Spirit of God at work in us but the persuasion of the Devil as in our blinded state we strive for our own glory rather than to glorify Christ, and we aim to trample others rather then the demonic forces at work among us. John had a proper understanding of his vocation, his purpose in the grander purposes of God. Indeed even the gifts and vocation come from God (1Cor 4:7; 1Pt 4:10-11; Eph 3:7-8; 1Cor 12:11). This knowledge will also help us avoid the sin of arrogance, jealousy, striving, and hatred.
  7. John 1:2
  8. Read Mt 3:11
  9. Rev 19:7-9; Hos 2:19
  10. This is the central theme of our study this week. Read John 8:23; Col 1:18; Jms 4:10; 2 Chron 7:14; 1Pt 5:6; Phil 4:20
  11. Read Is 45:23
  12. Believers have also received a seal on their hearts, being marked as Christ’s own forever. Read: 2Cor 1:22; Eh 1:13-14; Eph 4:30; 1Pt 1:5.
  13. This is another passage of the deity and authority of Christ as repeated in Col 2:9; John 5:26; Mt 28:18; Lk 10:22; 1Pt 3:22; Heb 2:8-9; Phil 2:9-11; John 17:26 with which he has now commanded us to go in his name, in his power that dwells in us to serve in the ministry of reconciliation by the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
  14. Belief and receiving is integral to the experiential and eternal blessing.
  15. Remember that in our study last week that Jesus told Nicodemus “you must be born again“.
  16. Eternal life is what’s at stake and such life begins at the moment (and each moment) in which our faith in the resurrected Lord overcomes every fear, thought, and deed that runs contrary to the will of God. Read: 1John 5:10-13; 1Ths 5:9; Rom 8:1
  17. This is the first instance in which we hear an account of Jesus’ disciples beginning to minister in the power and authority bestowed them by Jesus.
  18. Learn more about Herod Antipas
  19. This is about a 100 mile (35 hour) walk.
  20. The latter half of this verse will be read in Week 25 Section 37 when we begin to focus on Jesus’ ministry in Galilee
  21. The latter half of this verse will be read in Week 25 Section 37 when we begin to focus on Jesus’ ministry in Galilee
  22. He did not feel defeated or frustrated but invigorated and resolved to continue his ministry and purpose toward the cross and the resurrection to redeem his own and send us the Holy Spirit to empower us for ministry until he comes again (John 14:15-31; Acts 2.

By Greg Troxell

Disciple, entrepreneur and catalytic leader. Advocate of the sharing economy. Ministering to youth, new Christians, and equipping the saints. Developing the Emotivational practice. Founder of