31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
(John 3:31-36 NIV)
In today’s passage, the Apostle John switches from narrator to preacher again. Starting in verse 31, John once again provides a clear distinction between Jesus as Messiah/bridegroom and John the Baptizer as the herald of Messiah/best man.
The Apostle John begins this mini-sermon with a contrast between the origins of Jesus and John the Baptizer. John is pointing out the superiority and authority of Christ (coming from above/heaven) over John the Baptizer (coming from the earth). The Apostle John reaches all the way back to the beginning of chapter 1 to bring this summary together, reminding us of everything he has written thus far.
In verse 32, John tells us of the gulf of misunderstanding that existed between Jesus and those around him. Even though Jesus humbled Himself to become human, the little glimpses of Heaven that Jesus has shared were too unbelievable to His hearers. John tells us that no one accepted Jesus’ testimony, again going back to chapters 1 through 3 and reminding us that the “no one” that John was referring to were the religious leaders of their day.
In verse 33, John tells us that some (like Jesus’ disciples and Nicodemus) did believe, and now bear witness of Messiah’s life as truth. From a human perspective, Jesus’ words are too amazing to be true, or they fly in the face of everything we know and have been taught by our parents and mentors.
So what do we do when confronted with the truth of Jesus and God’s Word? Is this a “fight or flight” moment? Do we fight for the traditions that we have learned? Do we run away from God and abandon our faith altogether? Or do we humble ourselves, first “un-learning” what we have learned, and then re-learning the truth from God’s Word and Spirit?
John reminds us in verse 34 that the words that Jesus spoke were true because Jesus was given them from the Father. Also, John says that we can believe Jesus’ words are true because they have been affirmed by the Holy Spirit.
In verse 35, John tells us that the God the Father loves Jesus the Son and has put all matters in Jesus’ hands. In other words, God the Father trusts His Son Jesus implicitly and has turned over everything to Jesus.
Verse 36 reminds us that eternal life is grounded in faith, believing that Jesus is Messiah, the Son of God. Salvation and eternal life are not based on what we do, nor on what we believe, but on Whom we believe. To believe in anything or anyone other than Jesus as Messiah is to incur God’s wrath.
So what do we do with John’s mini-sermon? If we have already put our trust in Christ as Messiah, then worship is one excellent response, and sharing this good news with others is another. If anyone has not put their confidence in Christ, believing what God has said is true, then the first step is to take that step of faith and believe that Jesus is Messiah, that He has come to make eternal life with God possible. Why did God send His Son to die for us? He sent His Son because He loves us and wants fellowship and community with us again and forever.
If you have not made that choice to believe in Jesus as Messiah, are you ready to make that choice? If you have already made that choice, will you join me in the worship of our Lord? He who gave His all for us is worthy of all praise and honor and glory both now and forever.