John 3:22-26 “After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. For John had not yet been thrown into prison. Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!”
Then Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. Jesus spent some time with them there, and they were baptizing people. John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim. The word Aenon means the fountain of the dove and nothing certain has been determined where it was located. It is possible it was located eight miles south of Scythopolis and fifty-three miles northeast of Jerusalem near the Jordan River. Salim may be better known as Enon, but nothing can be determined where this was located either, other than both were believed to be on the west side of the Jordan River.
John the Baptist’s preaching attracted great multitudes, and it is possible that they remained with him many days. The mention that John the Baptist had not yet been cast into prison shows that Jesus started His ministry before John the Baptist was arrested. John the Baptist was the messenger of the Messiah and was to prepare the way. His ministry to Israel was ‘repent, the kingdom of God is at hand’. John still labored in his ministry until the day of his death.
John’s disciples, were those who had been baptized by him, and who probably attached great value and importance to the teaching of John, they and a Jew, some think he had been baptized by the disciples of Jesus, got into a dispute about “purifying”. This disagreement was probably over the comparative value and effectiveness, and if there was a difference between the baptisms. This discussion became so intense, that a complaint was made to John the Baptist. What we learn from this episode is that even in the time of Jesus, there were disputes on the subject of religion. Such discussions are usually about some unimportant matter of religion on things they probably are not able to understand and which probably does not affect them even if they could understand. Such disputes are often connected with the boasting of one denomination in which they are connected or the boasting of a newly converted person and often in an attempt to persuade others to join with them. Then and today, it should be love that describes the feelings of believers, new or old, with a disposition to question, not to dispute, with the attitude to study and pray for wisdom and knowledge.
And they came to John with the cause of their difficulty. Their problem was that Jesus was gaining popularity, and the people flocked to Him, and they feared that John would be abandoned and his followers would be weakened in numbers and influence. This shows that there are many who love their denomination more than they love Jesus, and that they desire that more people would convert to their denomination than to come to the full assurance of faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross; and the work of Jesus is His death, burial and resurrection
John knew and was satisfied that Jesus would increase and he would decrease.