“He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:31–36, ESV)
John (the Baptist) had just said, “Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (verses 29c-30) Here he goes on to enumerate several reasons for this to be true. The first reason is that he states is that He who came from above is truly above everyone else. A distinction is drawn between men, whose origins are of the earth and the Son of God who had no origin, but rather who is without beginning or end. Yes, He was born of a virgin at a specific date in time, and He did go to the cross at another point in time to be raised from the dead and then in time ascend to the right hand of the Father. These dates are marks of Him becoming fully human, and in no way frame the incomprehensibleness of Him also being fully God, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:6–11, ESV) But of man we read in Genesis 2:7, “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” (ESV)
Man speaks of what he knows, but Jesus speaks with the fullness of God. As we read here, He speaks of things which He has seen and heard—things which man does not know except that God reveals it to him. What He spoke of was fully accurate and in complete agreement with the Father. Just a few chapters later Jesus said “not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.” (John 6:46, ESV) Then in chapter eight He said, “I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”” (John 8:38, ESV) Jesus was and is the only One qualified to speak with the authority of the Father, and He spoke in full agreement from firsthand experience.
The harsh reality is that just as man had rejected God who they did not see, many continued and to reject Christ who they did see. Even today man continues to reject Him despite the record and proofs. Philip asked Jesus to show him the Father. In response Jesus said, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” (John 14:9–11, ESV)
John was there when the Spirit came upon Jesus at the beginning of His ministry, and John observed the Spirit working mightily. He knew that Jesus had had an unlimited oneness with the Spirit and was fully empowered to accomplish the miraculous works which testified to Him being from the Father. Luke wrote several times in chapter four of how Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and even impelled by the Spirit. Paul wrote of the difference between those working in the power of their own flesh as opposed to Christ in whom the fullness of deity dwelt in His bodily form. “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily….” (Colossians 2:8–9, ESV) As our verses for today read, Jesus was also able to give to others the power of the Holy Spirit. Even now, we as believers are given the Holy Spirit at the time of our salvation To His disciples Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26, ESV) After Jesus’ resurrection Peter spoke to the masses, and after His sharing with them they asked what they must do to be saved. Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:38–39, ESV)
John spoke of the great love of the Father for the Son and how the Father had given everything to Him. This included the power to forgive sins and grant eternal life. Our passage concludes with John’s confidence that the reason for which Christ was sent would be completely fulfilled because Jesus had the power of being God to accomplish it. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36, ESV) There is no way around the fact that salvation is found in Jesus Christ and Him alone. There is no other way to God but through the forgiveness granted in His Son. For those who refuse in this life the full wrath of God is theirs for eternity. It will never go away. But for those who believe in Jesus Christ they are forever saved. When Peter and John were brought before the Jewish leaders, Peter boldly proclaimed to them, “let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10–12, ESV)
In this John the Baptist was confident, and because of that he found great joy in stepping aside as Jesus became more and more the focus of attention. Each of us, as well are given the great privilege of pointing people to Christ. In this we can trust the Spirit of God to open eyes and ears that men might be saved from the wrath that is theirs and gifted with the forgiveness of God which results in eternal life.