Later, Jesus and his followers spent some time in the Judean countryside, performing spiritual cleansing rituals. John was there too, also dunking people near Salim at Aenon, where the water was suitable for this sort of ritual and there were no lack of people either. (This was before John was sent to prison.) Some of John’s followers started arguing with a certain Jew about this dunking ritual. Then they complained to John, “Teacher, everyone is going over to the other side of the Jordan River to be dunked by that man you kept going on about.”
John replied, “I’ll be happy with whoever God sends me. You already know where I stand on this; you heard me say he’s the one who is going to do the real spiritual cleansing, not just the symbolic act of dunking. I’m like this guy’s best man, if you will. The best man is there to do whatever the groom needs. And at that moment when the bride starts to walk down the aisle, she’s not heading toward the best man; she’s heading for the groom. And the best man isn’t jealous—if anything he’s overwhelmed with joy for the groom. And that’s what I feel right now. It’s time for me to bow out and let him stand in the spotlight, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
“Look, this guy is not from around here; he’s otherworldly and way more advanced than anything on this earth. I’m just a human and I can only relate to what I know from my experience. But someone from outer space? Who could possibly know more than he does? He speaks from a whole other base of knowledge and experience; and yet people aren’t believing him. The ones who do believe him are proving God to be real. God sent him and he speaks on God’s behalf. He has this direct line to God—no waiting on hold or being sent to voicemail. Father God loves his Son and gives him any and everything—on demand. And if you wrap your mind around that and accept the Son for who he is, you’ll live on even after you die; but if you think it’s a load of bull, you’ve got no chance of life after death, because you’ve officially ticked off God.”