SUMMARY.--The Ruler Seeking Jesus by Night. The Necessity of a New Birth. The Birth of Water and of the Spirit. The Son of Man to Be Lifted Up. The Love of God for Man. Condemnation for Unbelief. John at Ænon. John's Testimony.
14, 15. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up. The reference is to Numbers 21:4-9 . As the bitten Israelites were healed by looking upon the brazen serpent lifted on high, so the world in sin is saved by looking to Jesus lifted up upon the cross.
16, 17. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, etc. There is no sweeter verse in the Bible. It declares: (1) That God is love. (2) That he loved the world instead of hating it. (3) That he so loved that he gave his Son. The Son did not come to appease the Father's wrath, but the Father sent him because he loved so well. (4) That he came to keep men from perishing.
18. He that believeth on him is not condemned. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Faith in Christ is essential to salvation, because it is the power that leads to obedience to him. Is condemned already. "He that believeth not shall be damned." The unbeliever condemns himself. He is lost and refuses to be saved by Christ.
19, 20. This is the condemnation. That men refuse the light. Usually it is not evidence, but an honest heart and a sincere desire for truth, that are needed in order to faith. All kinds of evil doers hate the light.
21. He that doeth truth. Truth has to be lived. He who lives it, lives an honest life sincerely desiring light, will come to the light.
22. Came into the land of Judea. Left Jerusalem and went into the country districts. Tarried . . . and baptized. The first intimation that Jesus administered the baptismal rite. He did it through his disciples ( John 4:2 ).
23. And John was baptizing in Ænon near Salim. The site was first identified by Lieut. Conder, of the British Palestine Exploration. He found a village of Ainun near another named Salim, not far from the Jordan, northeast of Samaria, with, as he says (Tent Work, p. 92), "the two requisites for the scene of baptism of a large multitude;--an open space and abundance of water." Prof. McGarvey, who visited it, says: "Pools, well suited for baptizing are abundant." Because there was much water there. This explains, not why John preached at Ænon, but why he baptized there. "Much water" was essential to baptism in New Testament times.
25, 26. There arose a question . . . about purifying. The Revision says "a Jew," probably a Pharisee who associated baptism with ceremonial purification. From the fact that John's disciples mention Jesus, it is evident that his name came up in the discussion.
27-29. Ye yourselves bear me witness. They complain of the fact that Jesus baptized and was very popular at this time, but John refers to the witness he had borne ( John 1:20 John 1:29 ), and affirms that each is fulfilling the work "given him of heaven." He that hath the bride. The bride is the Church; the bridegroom is Christ. John, "the friend of the bridegroom," already rejoices in the prospect of the union of the Bridegroom and Bride.
31. He that cometh from above. Christ, who is, therefore, above and over John.
32. No man receiveth his testimony. So few at that time that those who received were as nothing in contrast with the others.
36. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. Eternal life and eternal death turn upon trust in Christ. He who believes on the Son with a heartfelt, obedient faith, a faith that trusts all and surrenders all to the will of Christ, is born again and "hath eternal life." The faith that saves is a faith that moves us to come to Christ.