|Chapter 23||The Great Gospel of John, Book 1|
Section: In the land of Judah all around Jerusalem and on the way to Samaria
About the baptism with water and with the spirit. [John 3: 22-26]
(John 3:22) After this, Jesus went into Judea with his disciples, stayed there with them, and baptised.
1. When day had fully dawned, we got on our way and went into Judaea which, actually belonging to Jerusalem, surrounded this city in the same way as today a district lies around its principal town. One could easily walk through the whole land in a few days.
2. And what did I actually do in this land? The verse says that I was staying there with them and then baptised. Here arise the questions who, in fact, "they" were and what it means that I stayed with them. "They" are above all the disciples, whose number had again increased by a few in Jerusalem, but then also all those who believed in and sympathised with My teaching.
3. And all those who adopted My teaching in full faith were openly baptised by Me with water, but secretly with the spirit of My eternal love and wisdom and thereby obtained the power to be called "God's children". That is what I was doing as I was staying there. The teaching and what I did was partly recorded by the other three evangelists and need not be stated here. This actually consisted mainly in illustrating all the serious defects from which the Jews and Pharisees were suffering and in preaching the love for God and one's neighbour.
4. First I described all the weakness, admonished the sinners to repent, warned all who adopted My teaching against reverting to the old leaven of the Pharisees and, in corroboration of My most gentle teaching, performed miraculous acts needed for these so very materialistic times. I also healed many sick, freed the possessed from the unclean spirits and took on more and more disciples.
(John 3:23) John too was still baptising at Aenon, near to Salim, because water was plentiful in that region, and people were constantly coming for baptism.
(John 3:24) This was before John's imprisonment.
5. As I was travelling through the land of Judaea, I also came to the area where John was baptising in the small desert at Aenon near Salim because there was plenty of water, whereas in the region of Bethabara the Jordan had very little water and the same was muddy, dirty and full of foul-smelling vermin. That is why John had changed his location, preached his severe penitential sermons at Aenon and there baptised the people who had adopted his teaching and done true penance.
6. Among those there were also many who had already adopted My teaching, but had not yet been baptised by John. These asked Me whether it was necessary to be baptised by John beforehand. And I said to them, 'Only one thing is needed and that is to actually comply with My teaching. But whosoever wishes to be cleansed by John beforehand, while he is still doing this work, will only benefit from such a cleansing.' When I had spoken thus, many went to have themselves baptised by John.
(John 3:25) Some of John's disciples had fallen into a dispute with Jews (who had come there) about purification (ie, About My baptism with water compared to John's testimony).
7. A dispute arose about the purification by John and My baptism, for John's disciples could not understand that I, too, baptised with water, since they had heard John's testimony that I would not baptise with water, but with the Holy Spirit. Many Jews, who were already My disciples, maintained that My baptism was a true baptism. For, although I baptised with water like John, My baptism was the only valid one as I did not baptise with natural water alone, but at the same time also with the water of God's Spirit, giving the baptised the obvious power to be called God's children.
(John 3:26) And they came to John and said, "Rabbi! The man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan, to whom you bore witness (that he would baptise with the Holy Spirit), here he is, baptising (with water), and crowds are flocking to him!"
8. Following these discussions, John's disciples went with the Jews to John and said, 'Listen, Rabbi! The same man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan; to whom you bore witness that he would baptise with the Holy Spirit, is now here in the vicinity and baptises also with water as you do. How are we to understand this? Is this Baptist really the One to whom you bore the great witness?'
9. John however said to his disciples, 'Go and ask him: "Are you the one who is to come or should we wait for another?" Pay good attention to what he will be telling you and then tell me. Only then will I fully answer your query.'
10. Thereupon several of John's disciples come to Me and ask Me as suggested by John. But I give them the well-known answer, that they should tell John what they have seen, namely, that the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear and how the gospel of the Kingdom of God is being preached to the poor. And happy he who does not take offence. - The disciples again return to John and immediately tell him what they have seen and heard.
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