And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.…
1. It is an evidence of a sick and corrupt Church when corrupt men are entrusted with most grave and weighty employments in it; for so was it with the Church of the Jews when "they which were sent were of the Pharisees."
2. Corrupt men are more ready to jangle and lie at wait for advantages than to embrace the truth of God delivered by His servants; for these Pharisees take no notice of what He had said from Isaiah, nor seek to be further cleared in it, but think they have an advantage of him, that he should presume to baptize. "Why baptizest thou, then, if thou be not that Christ?" etc.
3. It was an uncontroverted truth, both among friends and foes, in the Jewish Church, that at the coming of the Messiah there should be some changes in the way of religion and an institution of new ordinances; for the Pharisees have nothing to say against his baptism if he were Christ, or Elias, or the prophet: their only objection is, "Why baptizest thou, then, if thou he not?" And John's answer, "I baptize, but there standeth One among you," etc., importeth that he being Christ's forerunner, who was now come into the world, it was lawful for him to administer this sacrament.
4. Ministers ought to arrogate no more unto themselves than to be ministers and dispensers of the external means of word and sacraments, leaving the glory and efficacy thereof unto Christ entirely; and people ought so to be affected in coming to these ordinances. Therefore saith John, "I baptize with water," not denying that Christ also baptized with water, nor yet denying that baptism administered by him was accompanied with grace and the Spirit of God; but he only compareth his person and office with Christ's, and showeth that whatever grace came by the sacrament administered by him, yet he was not the giver of it, but Christ only, who had appointed him to dispense the outward seal.
5. Christ may be among a people, and yet they who reckon themselves very high in the Church neither see Him nor know Him; for saith John, "there standeth One whom ye know not."
6. It is the duty of ministers, and will be the care of such as are faithful and zealous, to exalt and commend Christ at all occasions, that men may fall in love with Him. Therefore doth John again repeat his doctrine, "He it is," etc.
7. The more high employment and the eminent gifts men have, and the more ready men are to esteem of them, the more will they abase themselves, if they be truly gracious, and be affected with the excellency of Christ; for it is John, the greatest among them that are born of women, and so much esteemed among the Jews, and the forerunner of Christ, who thus abaseth himself. "He is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose."
8. Albeit Christ, of free grace, do honour men with eminent employments under Him, and particularly ministers of the gospel. Yet such as know Christ and themselves well will not only see that they are unworthy of the high employments they have, but even to do the basest service to Him; for John saith not, I am unworthy to be His forerunner, though employed in that service, but "whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose," which was a mean and base office.
Parallel VersesKJV: And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.