22 After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized— 24 for John had not yet been thrown into prison.
There is one main point to which I would like to draw to your attention to from the text.
‘John Also‘ was baptizing
What greater commendation and praise can any mortal man receive but that Christ is said to be doing something and that man also is said to be doing the selfsame thing? Surely this is the highest calling of every man, woman and child––to live as Christ lived, to live according to the Father’s will.
Any reflection on scripture reminds us of how few this may be said as it was said of John.
Consider the disciples in the garden when our Lord commanded them to ‘watch and pray’ while he ‘went over there to pray’. Jesus is praying fervently and yet his disciples, even those of his most near and confident followers, are not found to be praying. Jesus was praying but no-one else was also praying.
Consider also Jesus’ determination to fulfill the Father’s will as he ‘set his face like flint’. His disciples were afraid and disturbed––they were wavering––but Christ ‘marches to Jerusalem’ to do the Lord’s will.
Surely John the Baptist gives us a marvelous example. How we ought strive to be like John in this regard––and in being like John, being like Christ.
John is a worthy example, but here we must learn two great doctrines to correctly understand ‘John also was baptizing’
i) Holy living, bearing righteous fruit, doing as Christ also did does not merit salvation but salvation is a gift of God.
Truly, “We hold that we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law”, and the righteousness of God comes to the sinner, the unrighteous by “faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe… we have been justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ…” (Romans 3).
Indeed, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, and, “If God should mark iniquity, who could stand?–[no-one]”.
John’s doing of God’s will does not merit his salvation.
ii) Holy living, bearing righteous fruit, doing as Christ also did is, rather, our reasonable service out of thankfulness to God for our redemption, it is our adorning of the free gift of the gospel. In this way, it shows our faith is genuine and that, as Ezekiel prophesies in the thirty sixth chapter of his book, we have been given a new heart, we have been regenerated by the power of God.
Therefore, we ought to strive to be like John, to do also as Christ does–the Father’s will. But, not to justify ourselves or to win favor with God. No, no, this is simply the evidence of a new nature we’ve been given, of our rebirth, of the flesh being put to death and living in the Spirit. Being forgiven and delivered from darkness and being made children of God, these are the good works God has prepared beforehand for us to walk in for the praise of his glorious grace (Ephesians 2).
May we be found doing and striving to be like John, who was also baptizing, also doing the Father’s will, not out of any desire to be made right before God, but out of thankfulness that God has made us right by his grace.
Truly, no man, not John the Baptist, not Peter, James or John, or the Prophets or anyone else have ever truly also done as Christ has done––for every man has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
But thanks be to God that the Lord Jesus Christ offers his righteousness to sinners and has born the punishment of every sinner he draws unto himself. The greatest sinner may rejoice and be glad because according to the gospel of Jesus Christ, all those who Christ saves will also enjoy joy unspeakable in the fellowship with their God for eternity.
O what Christ has done! O how then can we not also seek to obey this righteous king out of simple gratitude and love to our savior.