A QUESTION AROSE
John 3:22-27 After these things came Jesus and His disciples into the land of Judea; and there He tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison. Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to Whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to Him. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
In verses previous to the lesson text we find Jesus in Jerusalem teaching the kingdom of God to a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin - a man named Nicodemus. In the first verse of the lesson text we learn that Jesus left Jerusalem and, with His disciples, went into the land of Judea. That is, He went into the more rural districts of this Jewish province, and probably near the Jordan River. It says further that Jesus tarried with them, and baptized others that believed in Him, and, more than likely became His followers. It should be noted here that it was Jesus' disciples that performed the baptismal rites, because we read in John 4:2 that Jesus Himself baptized not, but His disciples.
And John also was baptizing in Aenon (which means a fountain) near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. We are not told exactly where this site was located but biblical scholars believe they were on the west side of the Jordan River, and near the site where Jesus and His disciples were also baptizing repentant Jews. The site was especially suitable for baptism because there was much water there - sufficient to immerse one into, or completely under, the water. Although immersion has been replaced in most religions today with many other forms of, so called "baptisms," such as dipping, sprinkling, and poring, yet the word originally translated baptism in this passage, and in other places in the New Testament, has only one meaning - immersion.
In verse 24 we find the fact that John had not at this time been imprisoned, which serves as proof that Jesus began His ministry before this event took place. Thus, John the Baptist continued to call all Jewish people to repentance. By administering this unto repentance, John was fulfilling his God-assigned mission to prepare the way for the Messiah, Christ Jesus, and the future coming of His kingdom - His church.
Then a question arose between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. The Revised King James vision says the question was raised by "a Jew" about purifying. Most translators agree with this reading. Some suggest that the one raising the question could have possibly been a Pharisee that considered baptism to be associated with Jewish ceremonial purification. However, we know the disagreement was not over what baptism symbolized but the dissension arose between those baptized by John and those that the disciples of Jesus baptized. The question was further explained in verse 26. It seems that the popularity of Jesus and His disciples had grown to the point that the disciples of John feared that their spiritual influence would be diminished - there could have arose some jealously toward the disciples of Jesus. We know this to be true because Jesus is specifically identified as He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to Whom thou barest witness. It was by His influence and guidance that His disciples baptized repentant Jews, and because of His popularity all men come to Him. John's disciples refused to be known by any other name. It is certainly true today that the majority of, so called "Christian" religions prefer to be known as Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, etc., rather than as members of the church of Christ. Let the world know that Jesus is to be exalted, not a founder of a "religious body."
John's answer to the question that had arisen was, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. He showed no mutual feelings for the disagreement they posed about Jesus and His disciples - he did not sympathize with their biased partiality. Rather he demonstrated joy over the coming of the Messiah whom he professed to be Christ Jesus. John received his spiritual authority and guidance directly from God, and the same God sent His Son, Jesus to earth to establish His kingdom, through which all people of the earth can be blessed with the hope of eternal life in Heaven. All must unite and rejoice in Christ Jesus!