The Berean Expositor
Volume 48 - Page 161 of 181
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pp. 170 - 174
Shall we look at John 3: 23 to the end? These verses bring to our notice the special
and differing ministries that God had entrusted to John the Baptist and our Lord. John
wants the distinctive messages to be understood and not that human traditions should
intrude to confuse and divert attention from the teaching:
"Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about
purifying" (3: 25).
God gave His servant Moses rules for Israel to observe for washing or purifying after
contact with such as God declared at that time to be unclean to that nation.  Lev. 11:
contains many such rules. What had happened? The Jewish elders had enlarged the rules
given by Moses and because these traditions were of themselves they took excessive
pride in their observance, just as they did for their interpretation of how the sabbath was
to be observed. Yet for all their zeal they were quite prepared to adulterate other parts of
the law of Moses where it affected their financial interests:
"This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. Howbeit
in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For
laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of
pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And He said unto them, full well
ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses
said, honour thy father and thy mother; and, whoso curseth father or mother, let him die
the death: but ye say, if a man shall say to his father or mother, it is corban, that is to say,
a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer
him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; making the word of God of none
effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye"
(Mark 7: 6-13).
Notice the implication that the elders had delivered many of their traditions without
divine authority.
In John 3: 26 we see some of John the Baptist's disciples finding an element of
competition in numbers between his followers and those of Christ. John immediately
emphasizes the distinctive qualifications of each servant of God and his distinctive
message; Christ the Bridegroom to the elect of Israel while John was the friend of the
Bridegroom sent to prepare His way on earth and speaking of earthly requirements.
We see a similar failure by the Corinthians to give attention and importance to the
word of God rather than to the vessel used to declare it:
". . . . . one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; . . . . . who then is Paul, and
who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every
man?" (I Cor. 3: 4-5).
John now emphasizes the origins of himself and the Lord Jesus and the consequent
character and importance of the message we have from each: