Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying.
And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to Whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to Him.
The baptizing work that both John Baptist and Jesus did during this period seems to have been a continuation of John’s habit of baptizing those who repented of sin and gave their lives to living separated from sin.
We don’t know the specific nature of the dispute between John’s disciples and the Jews, except that it concerned purification. Some of the Jews may have felt that only the priests could perform a rite of purification; they did not recognize that John was sent by God. And of course, they didn’t recognize Who Jesus was, either.
John’s disciples complained that “everyone” was going to Jesus for baptism. This is much the same as our tendency to say, “Well, everyone else is doing so-and-do,” in an effort to justify our own behavior. John’s followers were apparently protective of him, and felt that Jesus was, in a sense, poaching on John’s territory.
They, too, clearly did not understand yet Who Jesus was.
I think it is interesting, in this passage, that there was already dissension among followers of John and of Jesus, trouble in the church before the church was even established.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.