On the Gospel of John, Part 12: The Parable of the Samaritan Woman
In the later portion of John chapter 3, after the discourse which Christ had with Nicodemus, John, the author of our Gospel, described the baptizing of the people by the disciples of Christ, the contention which John the Baptist was having with certain pharisees about baptism, and then the inquiry which the disciples of John had made concerning the baptizing conducted by the disciples of Christ. He then recorded John the Baptist’s testimony in response to that inquiry, that “a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven”, which seems to have answered both the query of his disciples and the contention of the pharisees at the same time, and then in a clear reference to Christ he said “28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.”
At this point in time, John did not necessarily know that Yahshua was the Messiah, as we see that later, after John was imprisoned, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 11 and in Luke chapter 7, John had sent disciples to Christ specifically to ask Him that very thing. Rather, at this time John was simply proclaiming that one greater than he was going to come, and that his own purpose was only to make that announcement. Then John made the illustration of the bridegroom to inform his disciples that the one coming after him would have the people flock to him, and that he would be magnified, while John himself was diminished, and therefore that one was the expected Messiah, a role which John himself denied. In that manner, when John’s disciples saw one coming after him who fulfilled that description, they would know that he was the Messiah. But John, once he was in prison, could not see that for himself, so he sent his disciples to ask. So in that last part of John chapter 3, John the Baptist was not necessarily describing what was happening, but rather he was only explaining what was supposed to happen, which is according to the prophecies concerning him in Isaiah chapter 40 and Malachi chapter 3. Of the prophecy, men cannot tell what is going to happen, but can only know what Yahweh God has promised to make happen.