|Chapter 24||The Great Gospel of John|
The Baptist’s last and greatest witness to the Lord: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” [John 3: 27-36]
(John 3:27) John’s answer was: “A man can have only what God gives him.”
1. But John collects himself and says to his disciples, 'Listen, I am convinced of this: A man cannot take anything, especially in things concerning the spirit, unless it is first given him from the heavens. The unusual man who had Himself baptised by me on the other side of the Jordan and above Whom I saw the Spirit of God descending from the heavens in the form of a little cloud of light, as gently as a dove alighting upon its nests, and to Whom I bore witness, could not as an ordinary man have taken what He possess. He is more than an ordinary man and does appear to have the power Himself to take from the heavens and to either keep what He has taken or pass it on to whomsoever He wishes. And I believe that all of us received what we have from His grace. Therefore, we cannot possibly tell Him what to do and how to do it. He gives and we are the ones who take it from Him. He has His winnowing fan in His hand and will sweep the floor of His barn, but burnt the chaff with the eternal fire and use the ashes the way He sees fit.
(John 3:28) "You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Messiah, but sent as His forerunner."
2. You yourselves are my witnesses that I told the priests and Levites, who had come to me from Jerusalem, that I am not the Messiah, but sent as His forerunner. How then could I find fault with what the One is doing Who has His own winnowing fan in His hand? In whatever way He should sweep His threshing floor we cannot make rules for Him. For the field (the world) is His, thus also the wheat (the children of God) and the chaff (the children of the world or the devil), and His is the barn (heaven) and His the fire (hell), which never goes out.
(John 3:29) "It is the bridegroom (Lord) to whom the bride belongs. And the bridegroom's friend, who stand by and listens to him, is overjoyed at hearing the bridegroom's voice. This joy is now mine."
3. Whoever has the bride (wisdom of the heavens) is a true bridegroom, but the bridegroom's friend standing by and listening to him is overjoyed, at hearing the bridegroom's voice. And look, this joy is now mine. But when the Lord Himself comes, the herald's mission is ended. For the herald's sole duty is to announce the arrival of the Lord. Once the Lord had arrived, the herald is no longer needed.
(John 3:30) "As he increases, I must decrease."
4. Therefore, I must now decrease, whereas He as the Lord must increase with the men of this earth. You were always my disciples since I came to you as a messenger. Has any one of you ever heard me boast about it? At all times I reserved the proper honour for Him to whom it is due. When I testified that I was not good enough to unfasten His shoes, I surely dud not raise myself above Him, but gave Him all the honour people's blindness wanted to show me. Therefore I repeat: Now my mission is ended! Once the Lord has come Himself, the forerunner is no longer needed, wherefore the messenger (the flesh) must now grow less, whereas He as the Lord (the Spirit) must grow beyond all flesh. There is a vast difference between the herald and Him who out of His own might sends the herald wherever He wishes.
(John 3:31) "He who comes from above is above all others. He who is from the earth belongs to the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all."
5. The one who has the power to give laws is above and the one who must obey is below. - No one can rightly be above unless he originates from there. But he who comes truly from above is above all others. He who is from the earth can never be from above, but belongs to the earth and cannot speak other than of earthly things. However, He who comes from heaven is above all, for He is the Lord and can, therefore, do whatever He wishes. He can baptise with water, fire and spirit, for everything is His
6. I still do not think that He Himself baptises with water, but only with fire of the Spirit, whereas His disciples will baptise the people beforehand in the way I do it, that is, all those who did not receive the baptism with water from me. The baptism with water is no use to man unless followed by the baptism with the Spirit of God.
(John 3:32) "And bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet hardly anyone accepts his witness."
7. Water gives evidence of nothing but water and cleanses the skin from the earth's dirt. The Spirit of God, however, with which the Lord alone is able to baptise, since God's Spirit is His Spirit, testifies to God and that which only He at all times sees and hears in God.
8. Unfortunately, so far hardly anyone accepts this holy witness, for what is mud stays mud and rejects the Spirit, unless the mud first passes through the fire there to become itself Spirit. A proper fire consumes everything except the Spirit, which is a mighty fire itself. Therefore, the Lord's spirit baptism will destroy many, and because of that many will fear to accept it.
(John 3:33) "But he who accepts keeps it sealed (within him) that God is true (naturally within the One who bore witness to Him through the baptism with the Spirit of God)."
9. However, he who will accept this baptism and its holy witness will keep sealed within him from the world the knowledge that the One who baptised him with the Spirit is truly God and alone able to give eternal life. Now you say within yourselves: "Why keep sealed within oneself the heavens' witness of God through God?" I have already told you: Mud is and remains mud and spirit is and remains spirit. If, however, mortal man, who is fundamentally mud, receives the spirit into his mud, will he be able to keep the spirit, unless he preserves it carefully within, that is, in his heart?
10. Or is there a certain measure according to which spirit is distributed so that everyone may know how much spirit he received? If there is not such a measure, it is up to temporal mud-man to establish in his heart such a measure for the received spirit. And once the spirit has in this measure retired to permanent rest ands thus filled up the new measure, only then does the mud-man realise within himself how much of the spirit he has received.
11. What use would it be to you if by the sea you filled water into a perforated barrel? Could you ever claim and recognise that you have drawn a given amount of water from the, for you, immeasurable sea? If the barrel is well hooped, you will be able to judge how much of the sea-water is contained in it. The water of the sea, however, is the same throughout, whether in a large or small quantity - is of no importance. Thus the sea as such is sea throughout, and wherever one may draw water from the sea, be it much or little, he draws in every part sea-water and will only later know the measure.
(John 3:34) "For He whom God has sent utters the words of God. God gives His spirit (to Him whom He sent) without measure (not as to a man, but in all His abundance)."
12. Thus it is with the One who has come from God to bear witness to God and utter the pure word of God. He Himself is the measureless sea (the Spirit of God). When He gives someone of His Spirit, He does not give it in an endless measure, which only in God can exist in endless abundance, but according to the measure present in man. If a man wishes to obtain the Spirit, his own measure must not be defective and remain open - it must be well hooped and well sealed.
13. He whom you have just seen and asked whether He were Christ has, although externally also a Son of Man, received God's Spirit not according to a man's measure, but according to the endless measure of God already from eternity; for He Himself is the measureless sea of the Spirit of God within Him. His love represents the Father from eternity, and this is not outside the visible Son of Man, but within Him, who is the fire, the flame and the light from eternity in and form the Father.
(John 3:35) "The Father loves the Son and has entrusted Him with all authority."
14. This loving Father dearly loves His eternal Son, and all power and authority lie in the hands of the Son, and everything we have according to the proper measure, we have drawn from His measureless abundance. He Himself is by His own Word now a man in the flesh among us, and His Word is God, spirit and flesh, and we call it the "son". Thus the Son is also within Himself the very life everlastingly.
(John 3:36) "He who believes in the Son has eternal life. But he who does not believe in the Son shall not see that life: God's wrath rests upon him."
15. Thus, he who accepts the Son and believes in Him has eternal life already within him. For, just as God Himself is in every word His own most perfect eternal life, He is that also in every man who absorbs His living Word and holds on to it. On the other hand, he who does not accept the Word of God from the mouth of the Son, thus does not believe in the Son, shall not and cannot receive life nor see and feel it within him, and the wrath of God which is the judgement of all things that have no life, except the one of the forever immutable law of compulsion, will rest upon him as long as he does not believe in the Son.
16. I, John, have now told you all this and have borne all of you a fully valid witness. With my own hands I have cleansed you from the dirt of the earth. Go now and accept His Word, so that you may receive the baptism of His Spirit, for without that all my efforts on your behalf are futile. I would like to go to Him myself, but He does not want that and reveals it to me through my spirit that I should stay here, since I have already received in the spirit what is still lacking in you.'
17. This is the last and greatest testimony by John concerning Me and does not require any further explanation as it is already self-explanatory.
18. The reason, however, why it is not given in the Gospel in such detail is and remains always the same; firstly, because in those days it was the way things had to be written, namely, that only the main points were recorded and everything else, which a person with a wide-awake spirit could easily understand anyway, was omitted and, secondly, to prevent the living holy content in the Word from being defiled and desecrated. Therefore, every such verse is a well-covered grain of seed with a latent germ for an everlasting life and its immeasurable abundance of wisdom.
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