After this conversation, Jesus went on with his disciples into the Judean countryside and relaxed with them there. He was also baptizing.
At the same time, John was baptizing over at Aenon near Salim, where water was abundant.
This was before John was thrown into jail.
John's disciples got into an argument with the establishment Jews over the nature of baptism.
They came to John and said, "Rabbi, you know the one who was with you on the other side of the Jordan? The one you authorized with your witness? Well, he's now competing with us. He's baptizing, too, and everyone's going to him instead of us."
John answered, "It's not possible for a person to succeed - I'm talking about eternal success - without heaven's help.
You yourselves were there when I made it public that I was not the Messiah but simply the one sent ahead of him to get things ready.
The one who gets the bride is, by definition, the bridegroom. And the bridegroom's friend, his 'best man' - that's me - in place at his side where he can hear every word, is genuinely happy. How could he be jealous when he knows that the wedding is finished and the marriage is off to a good start?
This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.
"The One who comes from above is head and shoulders over other messengers from God. The earthborn is earthbound and speaks earth language; the heavenborn is in a league of his own.
He sets out the evidence of what he saw and heard in heaven. No one wants to deal with these facts.
But anyone who examines this evidence will come to stake his life on this: that God himself is the truth.
"The One that God sent speaks God's words. And don't think he rations out the Spirit in bits and pieces.
The Father loves the Son extravagantly. He turned everything over to him so he could give it away - a lavish distribution of gifts.
That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever! And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn't see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)