John 3: He Who Comes from Heaven is Above All Things

September 23, 2013 at 1:39 PM 10 comments

There is no one higher than Jesus Christ. No one.

bronze snake

The bronze snake on a staff was a precursor to the crucifixion of Jesus.

We will be getting back to the Tribulation because we’re not done with that subject yet. However, I wanted to discuss something that is also very important, probably more important than a discussion of the Tribulation. That is the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who purchased us with His own blood that was shed on Calvary’s cross in order that we might have life eternal.

John chapter three is probably one of the most familiar sections of Scripture if for no other reason than John 3:16, which says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever should believe on Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” I’m sure you know it by heart.

Yet, leading up to this and following this verse there exists a tremendous amount of information that tells us a great deal about the way people thought during Jesus’ time. Right off the bat, with verse one, we learn of a man named Nicodemus, who, as it turns out, was a Pharisee, also known as a “ruler of the Jews.” As such, he was responsible for the spiritual welfare of the Jewish people of Israel. He was supposed to teach God’s truth to them in a way that would cause them to live a life that brought glory to God. By the way, this is exactly what we as Christians today are to do; live a life that brings glory to God.

Nicodemus approached Jesus with the greeting of “rabbi,” indicating that as far as Nicodemus was concerned, Jesus was a teacher who spoke the truth, one who was literally sent from God. As the conversation got going, Jesus points out some truth that Nicodemus found difficult to accept, mainly because he didn’t understand fully what Jesus was saying.

Jesus says that in order to inherit eternal life, a person must be born again (or born from above). This was lost on Nicodemus and he even jokingly refers to going back into the womb again to be born a second time. How could that be done he asks Jesus.

Jesus responds by repeating the same truth in a different way. This time, He states that a person needs to be born physically and then must also be born spiritually as well in order to inherit eternal life. Here, Jesus breaks it down a bit further, pointing out that there are two births, the first one physical, the second one spiritual. By the way, this leaves out the angels and demons since they were not born at all, but created as angels. We know that some fell from their first estate, choosing to follow Satan’s rebellious ways. Unfortunately for them, there is no possibility of receiving salvation simply because they do not qualify nor ever will. While the curse that the fall placed on the earth and animal kingdom will one day be lifted, only human beings qualify to receive salvation.

In John 3:8, Nicodemus – after hearing these things – simply asks, “How can these things be?” He still didn’t get it and Nicodemus was a spiritual teacher of Israelites. This prompts Jesus to respond with, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony,” (John 3:10-11).

Here note Jesus’ use of the words “we” and “our.” Jesus is identifying with the Father here. He is essentially stating that He is the Father’s spokesman. In essence, He speaks for the Father, both in word and deed. Jesus is also saying very clearly here that what He speaks is the unadulterated truth and yet, Nicodemus does not accept it. It is beyond him. He cannot comprehend it, therefore fails to accept it.

Jesus then elaborates by saying, “If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life,” (John 3:12-15).

Jesus offers Nicodemus something that will increase his faith in Jesus, but first He deliberately notes that He has really only told Nicodemus earthly things, the very basics. The fundamentals, chief of which is the fact that salvation requires two births, one from below (on earth) and one from above (from heaven). This is the foundational aspect of salvation. Without comprehending it, there is no salvation for the individual.

In 1 Corinthians 3:2, Paul states, “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able…” Paul had grown a bit frustrated with his readers in the Corinthian church. They were unable to receive the weightier truths of God’s Word and still simply relied on the “milk,” which are the foundational aspects of God’s truth revealed to humanity with reference to salvation.

The writer of Hebrews essentially says the same thing, when he says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food,” (Hebrews 5:12). The reality is that too many Christians remain content with the milk (elementary or fundamental principles of God’s truth) and prefer not to go any further. They want salvation, but they don’t want to know the full responsibility of salvation. They want to know God, but they don’t want to know Him too deeply because it destroys their comfort level.

Of course, in verse 15, Jesus points out to Nicodemus the very thing that will save him and because Jesus is telling him ahead of time, it should also serve to bolster Nicodemus’ faith when he sees that event occur not too far down the road. Jesus referred back to Moses and the snake situation (cf. Numbers 21), and how that snake literally saved the Israelites from dying when they were bitten by poisonous snakes. When that happened, wherever they were in the camp, they needed only look to the snake lifted high up on the staff. This is an interesting mix that God would have Moses put a bronze snake atop a high staff. It showed that Satan was at work to make the crucifixion happen to ensure Christ’s death, but He did consider the resurrection. It is the cross work of Christ that makes salvation available and Jesus essentially says that all who looked upon (believed on) the Son of Man (on the cross) would be saved with eternal life.

At that point, Jesus speaks the verse that is so familiar to us – John 3:16. Those who trust in the atoning power of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection will receive eternal life. The remainder of this chapter is just as interesting as the first section and we will get into that next time. Join me then with that before we deal once again with the Tribulation! God bless you and may the Lord open your eyes to show you how blessed you are in Him!

Entry filed under: Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation.

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10 Comments

  • […] John 3: He Who Comes from Heaven is Above All Things […]

  • 2. Lester  |  September 24, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    Tiz true Fred! Most Christians in class 101 are still feeding on milk and hopefully honest and true milk of the word. Unfortunately many who think they are feeding on the strong meat of the word are not.
    It’s not time for many to know or need to know and many can’t handle the truth as one actor has put it. We must all be careful that we are not following or teaching “holy cows” of the apostate religions.
    As holy and true the Pharisee Nicodemus thought he was he really needed a spiritual kick in the butt! To see the true spiritual meaning of the messiah he was taught by the Master Rabbi Son of Man Son of God. So much more was hanging on the cross that in class 101 it just means salvation but for a doctorate there is much more.

    • 3. modres  |  September 24, 2013 at 8:21 PM

      Right on, Lester – thanks for your comments! πŸ™‚

  • […] we discussed the first half of John 3, a very well-known section of Scripture for most of us because of John 3:16. If you have not read […]

  • 5. libslayer2013  |  September 23, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    Reblogged this on libslayer2013.

  • 6. libslayer2013  |  September 23, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    I’m not really sure how I stumbled across your blog but praise the Lord I’m so glad I did. Just by reading your writings I’m gonna go out on a limb as guess you’re a Baptist or have Baptist background. You share sound doctrine and this particular blog is no exception. You pointed out the verse about meat vs milk which is where I see the “modern” church (still being bottle fed) . I pray God continues to use you as you share His Word.

    • 7. modres  |  September 23, 2013 at 6:34 PM

      I’m glad you are being blessed with what I’m writing. That makes two of us πŸ™‚

      Thanks for your prayers on my behalf. I have a good, conservative background with some Baptist in there as well. πŸ™‚

      • 8. libslayer2013  |  September 23, 2013 at 7:29 PM

        Aha I knew it LOL, I was raised independent Baptist, now attend and serve at Retama Park Baptist in kingsville Texas. I love the Lord with all my heart and your blog is helping me to learn more about my Saviour. Thanks for being a willing vessel. And BTW, what’s your twitter handle? I think that’s how I found your blog

      • 9. modres  |  September 23, 2013 at 8:15 PM

        That’s great.

        My Twitter handle is @FredDeRuvo

      • 10. libslayer2013  |  September 23, 2013 at 8:19 PM

        I already found you. πŸ˜€ I trolled around libiot style. LOL


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