John 3: He Who Comes from Heaven is Above All Things, Part 3
We will finish up our discussion on the gospel of John, chapter three today. I promise! For our previous posts – parts 1 and 2 – on this, please go to these links:
- John 3: He Who Comes from Heaven is Above All Things
- John 3: He Who Comes from Heaven is Above All Things, Part 2
Specifically, we will close out this short series by focusing on the last verses of John 3 starting with verse 22. Here, the narrative switches from the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus. Verse 22 tells us, “After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing.”
The “after these things” refers to the conversation with Nicodemus. Jesus finished up there and then eventually traveled with His disciples to Judea, where He spent some time and baptized people. Technically, Jesus Himself was not baptizing. His disciples were doing that and John points that out in verse 23.
Because of what Jesus and His disciples were doing, people started asking questions about Jesus and John. What was happening? We need to remember that the people of Israel were diligently expecting and looking for, the coming Messiah. Was it John? Was it Jesus? Why were these two men overseeing water baptism among the people?
Specifically, John’s disciples get into a discussion with a “Jew” (which means here an orthodox Jewish man). Because of that discussion, John’s disciples go back to him with some questions. They were wondering why the people had moved away from John and were now following Jesus and being baptized by Him (His disciples). They were confused and did not understand what was going on, though they admit that Jesus is the One of whom John testified. At the same time, they saw John baptize Jesus and if Jesus was greater than John, why would John baptize Him?
At this point, John reveals to his disciples a very important truth. This truth, by the way, is not for John the Baptist only. It is for all of us who claim to be Christians. We cannot on one hand claim to be a true follower of Jesus while doing our own thing or while doing and saying things that give us attention. That’s not the way it works. If we are truly followers of Jesus, we will come to understand that we are His slaves (bond-servants). If we are His slaves, then we will want only to fulfill His will especially if that means becoming less while He becomes greater. It’s really that simple, but it involves a great deal of work on our part. Namely, we must be willing to give up our desires and will so that He can accomplish His purposes in and through us. That is the real work of Christianity, but fortunately, He provides strength to those who truly seek His will and not their own.
John told his disciples the following. “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves [g]are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease’.”
John is not only being clear. He is being profound. Whatever we have, whatever we are, along with any gifts that make up our being, come to us because of God. We cannot praise ourselves for those things. Neither could John praise himself for being the one who cried in the wilderness about the coming Messiah, Jesus. That was a position John was born into and he understood that.
John calls himself a friend of the bridegroom. There is a time when the friend might make a toast to the groom, but essentially, the friend is not the bridegroom. The friend respects and even loves the bridegroom for who He is and what He accomplishes. He doesn’t try to take anything away from the bridegroom. In fact, as John said, the friend rejoices FOR the Bridegroom and loves to hear His voice.
John also states that now that the bridegroom has arrived, John’s role would diminish. So should ours. The more we submit to Jesus, the greater He can work in and through us.
I received an email the other day from someone who has purchased a few of my books. He said, in part, “I just finished your book ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ and it really brought a blessing and some clarity on the topic of spiritual wickedness in high places. I’m starting your book on prayer tomorrow. I can totally relate to the way you write and I’ve never heard anything like it in any church. I praise God for your great gifts of discernment and teaching!”
That was very nice of him to say, but frankly, I was a bit floored. I don’t see myself that way and all I can say is that this is very likely a good thing. If God chooses to bless others through my writings on this blog, the books I’ve written, or my audio messages, wonderful. That’s something He has chosen to do. The fact that people see something that I don’t see is testimony to the way He is working in and through me and once again, I do not sense it at all. I hope that is because I am in the constant process of submitting myself to Him so that He can work in and through me for His glory.
John continues telling his disciples about Jesus in verses 31 and 32. “He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony.”
I have bolded a section of the text for a reason. John begins by stating that Jesus came down from above. In other words, as God, He chose to become incarnate man (Philippians 2), but He never forgot where He came from and it is that truth He wishes to reveal to people. Remember that He said this to Nicodemus? John 3:12 says, “If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”
Jesus said the same thing to Nicodemus that John tells his disciples. Jesus came down from the lofty heights of heaven to reveal God to humanity, but no one believes Him. Yet, we have “aliens” who transmit messages to people all the time (and on a growing basis) and many people believe it without any proof whatsoever. Amazing.
In verses 33 through 35, John states succinctly, “He who has received His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.”
What a tremendous truth! Those who BELIEVE that Jesus is God the Son and that He came to offer a way of salvation are literally sealed by God. This seal is unbreakable. It provides eternal life. Notice John says that Jesus as the Son of Man (a title for deity) speaks the very words of God. Why? Because Jesus IS God.
In their Persons, God the Father has given God the Son all things. This speaks of the roles they have chosen to play in the unfolding drama of redemption. It doesn’t mean God the Father is greater than God the Son. It simply means that their roles are different and that God the Son has willingly and deliberately taken a position that appears to make him subservient to God the Father. In essence, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are perfectly equal because they are one in three. They each have distinct roles though.
Just as my wife and I are married, we are completely equal in God’s eyes. At the same time, God has determined our roles in the marriage union.
John the Baptist closes out chapter three of the gospel of John with some interesting words. “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
What John is saying is that those who are true believers in Jesus have eternal life. At the same time, it is because of that eternal life that God begins to change a person from within so that they become obedient to His will. This is the process of growing in Christ.
Those who say they are Christians but never submit themselves to God’s will in obedience need to ask themselves what Christianity means to them. If they are not actually living the life, then something is wrong.
He who came down from heaven is truly above all things. He is greater than all things because apart from God, everything has been created.
Submit yourself to Him as God of gods and Lord of lords. He and He alone deserves our praise, our obedience, our love.