Later, Jesus and his disciples went to the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them and baptized people. (John 3:22)
This is such a simple statement, yet it’s full of lessons. There are three that I want to focus on today.
1. “Jesus and his disciples went…” Disciple mean learner. Jesus was known as a Rabbi which means teacher. Jesus had work to do, yet His students were so eager to learn that they followed Him wherever He went. This was significant since Jesus had no permanent dwelling (Matthew 8:20). If you wanted to learn from Him you followed Him. That meant giving up your own living arrangements. Today we are not usually asked to give up our homes to follow Jesus, but what are we asked to give up? Since Jesus sacrificed everything for us is it too much to ask that we not give up what He asks from us?
2. “went to the Judean countryside…” If Jesus wanted to become famous He would have been better off in Jerusalem. This was the capitol; it was where things were happening. Anyone who was anybody went to Jerusalem. This great city boasted of a population of 100 to 200 thousand people, and during the three festival seasons this number grew to well over one million! This was fertile ground for Jesus' ministry. Except that Jesus could do very little there for the people. He preached there, He chastised the Pharisees and Priests there, but most of His work was away from the capitol where the people lived. Where are you working? Are you looking for the spotlight of “the capitol”? We can certainly choose many places where our work for the Lord can be seen by many. We can even justify this by saying that it will increase the ministry. Jesus is not necessarily interested in increasing the size of your work. He is definitely interested in your work touching the people He has chosen for you to minister to.
3. “and baptized people.” Other places in the Bible say that Jesus did not baptize people Himself, but that His disciples did. The key to this part of the verse is the word “baptize”. This is from the Greek word that literally means “to cover wholly with a fluid.” One who is sprinkled is not covered wholly. I have heard people say that it’s okay to sprinkle, that it’s the thought or intention that counts. I have questions about that. If it were okay, why does every place in the New Testament that talks about believer baptism used this word? Baptism does not get you into heaven, as Jesus pointed out in regard to the repentant thief on the cross (Luke 23:43). I think we should keep it the way that Jesus and the apostles had it. Anything else is close to making up our own religion and there are enough people doing that as it is.