John’s Testimony to Jesus
While John and Jesus were both baptizing at a little distance from each other, there arose questions between some of the disciples of the former and the Jews about purifying. Whether they conceived of baptism as a mode of purifying, and thought they had enough of this already, or whatever they thought, they were manifestly disposed to set John at variance with Jesus, by endeavouring to work upon his jealousies. Probably the objection was first made by the Jews to some of John’s disciples; and they, being staggered by it, came with it to their master: “Rabbi,” say they, “he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou bearest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come unto him.” If John had been under the influence of such principles as govern the greater part of mankind, this poison must have taken effect. Its import was nothing less than this: This Jesus whom you exalt is become your rival, and draws away your disciples after him. Can he be the Messiah?
John, instead of being fired with jealousy, feels indignant at the attempt to place him in competition with his Lord, and rejects the idea with great force of language. “A man,” saith he, “can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven;” and be assured it was never given me from heaven to be a competitor with the Saviour of the world, ver. 27. “Ye yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him,” ver. 28. And as to “all men coming to him,” it is as it should be. Instead of undermining the proof of his Messiahship, it establishes it: for “he that hath the bride” (i. e. the people who believe in him) “is the bridegroom.” Envy not, I beseech you, therefore for my sake. It is enough for me to be “the bridegroom’s friend.” I have seen him, and heard his voice, and this to me is joy unspeakable, ver. 29. That of which you complain is the course in which things will continue to move; “for he must increase, and I decrease,” ver. 30. Nor ought any to desire it to be otherwise: for “he that cometh from above (as Jesus doth) is above all: he that is of the earth (as I am) is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all,” and ought not, therefore, to be compared with a worm of the dust, ver. 31.
Having thus commended his person, he proceeds to commend his doctrine, and, like an evangelical minister, to exhibit him as the only author of salvation. He describes his testimony as different from all others, in that it consists of things which he had “seen and heard” in heaven as being privy to all the Divine counsels; whereas those who were of the earth could only believe and therefore speak. But though he spoke as never man spoke, yet men in general rejected his testimony; those however who received it, as there were some that did, (ver. 32,) in so doing not only did him just honour, but subscribed to the veracity of God in all the promises and prophecies of his word; while those who rejected it, however they might make their boast of God, treated his oracles as lies, and himself as a liar, ver. 33. The reason for his thus identifying the testimony of Christ and the truth of God is, that God had “sent him, and he spake the very words of God;” and this not only as having been privy to all his counsels, but as partaking of his Spirit without measure, ver. 34.
He proceeds to warn them of the danger of being found fighting against God. “The Father,” saith he, “loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hands.” Will you set yourselves against the mind and purpose of God? He is his chief delight. His heart is set on honouring him. To him he hath committed all the great concerns of his moral empire, that he may restore it to order, and carry into execution all his designs of mercy and judgment. Be ye therefore of God’s mind, ver 35. If ye believe on the Son, everlasting life is yours: if ye believe not the Son, you will never see life; but “the wrath of God” revealed from heaven against you, in all the curses of his righteous law, will be bound for ever upon you! ver. 36.
Let the reader seriously consider this testimony of John. Let him remember that it is as applicable to us in these days as it was to the parties immediately addressed. It is the same doctrine as that which our Lord himself delivered to Nicodemus, in verses 14–18, and is that word by which we shall be judged at the last day: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
Excerpt from Various Passages, “John’s Testimony to Jesus.”
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 652–653). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.