After this conversation, Jesus went on with his disciples into the Judean countryside and relaxed with them there. He was also baptizing. At the same time, John was baptizing over at Aenon near Salim, where water was abundant. This was before John was thrown into jail. John's disciples got into an argument with the establishment Jews over the nature of baptism. They came to John and said, "Rabbi, you know the one who was with you on the other side of the Jordan? The one you authorized with your witness? Well, he's now competing with us. He's baptizing, too, and everyone's going to him instead of us."
John answered, "It's not possible for a person to succeed—I'm talking about eternal success—without heaven's help. You yourselves were there when I made it public that I was not the Messiah but simply the one sent ahead of him to get things ready. The one who gets the bride is, by definition, the bridegroom. And the bridegroom's friend, his 'best man'—that's me—in place at his side where he can hear every word, is genuinely happy. How could he be jealous when he knows that the wedding is finished and the marriage is off to a good start?
"That's why my cup is running over. This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.
"The One who comes from above is head and shoulders over other messengers from God. The earthborn is earthbound and speaks earth language; the heavenborn is in a league of his own. He sets out the evidence of what he saw and heard in heaven. No one wants to deal with these facts. But anyone who examines this evidence will come to stake his life on this: that God himself is the truth.
"The One that God sent speaks God's words. And don't think he rations out the Spirit in bits and pieces. The Father loves the Son extravagantly. He turned everything over to him so he could give it away—a lavish distribution of gifts. That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever! And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn't see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that."
// John 3:22-36, The Message
The richness of these passages can be overwhelming. Truly, I often struggle to find “the one thing” in these passages. I wish I could be sitting with you over a coffee or a beer and just talk through these together. There is so much!
I am continuing to find a theme running through John and it’s a theme that I have not been able to escape from for a while now. We see it again at the end of the passage, the phrase this time is “life complete and forever.” The phrase that has been in my heart for a while now is “life, and life to the full” as the reason Jesus came.
John turns the prism so to speak and shows another glimpse of what this complete and full life looks like. It is a life marked by the reality that Christ, being loved extravagantly by the Father, gives away all that the Father gave to him.
Can we just stop and let that sink in a bit?
The extravagant love of God flows through Christ to us to experience a life complete.
There is nothing small or limited about what Christ is doing. There is not a limited or short supply of God’s extravagant love flowing through Christ. There is no scarcity here, only abundance.
Now, let’s be clear this not some sort of prosperity Gospel, name it claim it, health and wealth kind of deal. This is something that goes deeper than material gain. It is experiencing life to the full rooted in the extravagant love of God.
A complete life, a full life, is one that is marked by loving deeply and being loved deeply. In other words, to love well.
Loving well is rooted not in ourselves but in the very nature of the Divine in us. As we come to a deeper understanding of being loved fully and lavishly by God then we have more love to give others. It is in the midst of this dance of giving and receiving that we find a full and complete life.