person sitting on cliff raising up both hands

John 3:31-36

[New to our exegesis of John’s Gospel? Try starting at The Beginning — see top menu for John 1:1-2].

 31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. 34 He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.

 31 Ὁ ἄνωθεν ἐρχόμενος ἐπάνω πάντων ἐστίν. ὁ ὢν ἐκ τῆς γῆς ἐκ τῆς γῆς ἐστιν καὶ ἐκ τῆς γῆς λαλεῖ· ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐρχόμενος ἐπάνω πάντων ἐστίν· 32 ὃ ἑώρακεν καὶ ἤκουσεν τοῦτο μαρτυρεῖ, καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν αὐτοῦ οὐδεὶς λαμβάνει. 33 ὁ λαβὼν αὐτοῦ τὴν μαρτυρίαν ἐσφράγισεν ὅτι ὁ θεὸς ἀληθής ἐστιν. 34 ὃν γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὰ ῥήματα τοῦ θεοῦ λαλεῖ, οὐ γὰρ ἐκ μέτρου δίδωσιν τὸ πνεῦμα. 35 ὁ πατὴρ ἀγαπᾷ τὸν υἱόν, καὶ πάντα δέδωκεν ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ. 36 ὁ πιστεύων εἰς τὸν υἱὸν ἔχει ζωὴν αἰώνιον· ὁ δὲ ἀπειθῶν τῷ υἱῷ οὐκ ὄψεται ζωήν, ἀλλ’ ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ θεοῦ μένει ἐπ’ αὐτόν.

Hello Earthlings!

We begin with an oddity. Who said these words? Some think John the Baptist, some John the Evangelist (who wrote this Gospel), and others claim Jesus said them. Frankly, it’s not clear. I tend to agree with those who believe these words were said by Jesus. There are all sorts of textual clues that indicate this. It is, then, as if the Nicodemus and John the Baptist narratives in chapter three culminate in this Jesus overview of them. It just would have been nice if John the author wrote a sentence prior; something like, “Gosh, this reminds me of something Jesus said that relates here.”

Now we look at what was said. Remember from last week that this passage is on the heels of the comparison of Jesus’ and John the Baptist’s baptisms — whose is greater. Now we read that there really is no comparison because the One who came from above (Jesus) is above the one who belongs to the earth. This may sound harsh; to call John the Baptist one who belongs to the earth. But in John’s Gospel, this language is not unusual. All of creation belongs to the earth. Only the Logos who comes from above, Jesus, can speak heavenly things.

There is here a kind of dualism common to John’s Gospel: all of creation is in a dilemma caused by sin. It simply cannot fix itself! Any look over of human history — especially recent history (e.g. 20th century) — confirms that humanity is desperately broken. But the One from above has come down with the power to redeem and restore!

You can think of earthlings as horrible creatures, polluting the earth and viciously treating each other, and that would be true. But they are also beloved of God and worth saving — as is true for YOU!

He came from above to rescue, restore, and redeem YOU for a heavenly purpose…you earthling!