Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
These verses are probably the words of our author, John the Beloved, rather than of John the Baptist.
John 3:31-32a AHe that cometh from above is above all; he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth; he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth . . .@
AHe that cometh from above@ refers to Jesus. He is absolutely pre-eminent. AAbove all@ is a general phrase and can refer to His being over all things and all people, but in this context probably means Jesus is Supreme above all teachers.
All human teachers, including the Baptist, are of earthly origin, live earthly lives, and must use the language of earth. It is impossible for earthbound people to speak of heavenly things with first-hand knowledge. I Corinthians 13:12 says, Awe see through a glass darkly.@ The objects we look at are distant, plus we are all nearsighted.
First-hand knowledge of God and heaven can belong only to Someone who has had direct access to God and has been to Heaven. To receive accurate information in various areas of life, we like to find experts, a weatherman, a physician, a lawyer, a mechanic. But in spiritual matters, all people inexplicably consider themselves an expert. Strange thinking indeed!
If we want reliable information about God and Heaven, we need to find Someone who knows both real well. This means we need Jesus. He can show us the way to Heaven because He came from there and can tell what He has seen and heard. He is the ultimate and final Authority in all spiritual matters.
John 3:32b-33 ANo man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set his seal to this, that God is true.@
Jesus, a Heaven-sent Apostle, speaks God=s own words. All that can be revealed about God has been committed to Christ. Hence, He is worthy of being believed, but Ano man receives His testimony.@ This is John=s graphic way of saying, AStrait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it@ (Matthew 7:14).
In comparison to the multitudes who reject Christ=s testimony, the small minority who receive it are so few that they can be described as Ano man.@ The world, as a whole, is not interested in the truth Jesus came to bring.
When composing AThe Messiah,@ Handel often wept, overcome with emotion. The words which broke his spirit worst were Isaiah=s AHe was despised.@
The world=s rejection of Christ is of avalanche proportions, but not all-inclusive. Some do believe and thereby testify AGod is true.@
The ancients gave approval to a document by affixing their seal to the foot of it. People thereby showed belief the document was legal, binding, and true. In many cases a document was of no effect, not legally binding, until sealed.
The ADocument@ of the Universe reads AGod is true.@ Reading and hearing these words are not enough. The testimony AGod is true@ is null and void in our life until we affix our seal to the ADocument.@ This is accomplished by receiving the testimony of Jesus. To reject Christ amounts to calling God a liar. How hideous is the sin of unbelief!
John 3:34-35 AHe whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God; for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.@
To listen to Jesus is to listen to the very voice of God, for Jesus possesses the Spirit to an unlimited degree, an infinite supply.
The Holy Spirit performs three vital services for people. First, He reveals God=s truth to us. Second, He enables us to recognize and understand truth. Third, He empowers us to share our accepted truth effectively with others.
These three services the Spirit does for us He first did for Jesus. Christ performed all three perfectly because He had the Spirit without measure.
The Spirit was not in Christ as a vessel, but as a fountain or bottomless ocean. God poured the Holy Spirit on Jesus in full measure. He held nothing back. Jesus received so much that He was able to distribute the Spirit to His followers. Jesus is AHe which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost@ (John 1:33). Jesus received the Holy Spirit without measure and bestows Him upon us (see also John 15:26). When Jesus poured out His blood, he poured out for us His life which was full of the Holy Spirit.
The term Aall things@ is not to be limited in any way. God so loved the world that He gave His Son, but He so loved the Son that He gave Him all things. Love is generous.
John 3:36 AHe that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.@
Our reaction to Jesus is a matter of life and death. In eternity, all that matters is one=s reaction to Christ. This can never be overly stressed.
The Gospel of Christ is neither speculative opinion nor a new notion in philosophy. The teaching of Jesus is not hypothesis put forward as a basis for discussion. It is not something we are at liberty to accept or reject, without fear of consequences. Jesus states facts. He reveals the very mind of God. Rejection brings wrath.
God=s wrath is the active opposition of His holy nature toward evil. It describes what people receive when God acts in justice. Wrath is God giving people what they deserve.
God made us in such a way that we cannot find fulfillment until we find God. At the same time, He reveals Himself so we can find Him. He wants us to enjoy Himself, the real thing, so He displays wrath on counterfeits.
Unbelievers experience the wrath of God constantly (abideth), but believers only experience it at various times. Before God can give us new life He must place wrath on our old nature. It must die (be crucified).
People do not like to admit their sins. They do not enjoy having their old nature killed. But the only way God can make Himself more and more alive in our new life is for Him to be constantly killing the old. Therefore, God=s love and wrath are both working on all believers at all times.
The unbeliever is condemned already. The believer undergoes purging. Both are evidence of God=s wrath. If God=s wrath did not abide on sin, people would develop complacency and be tempted to indulge in more sin, and to stay in it longer.
The ultimate purpose of God=s wrath is not our annihilation, but our repentance. The Aharshness@ of God is revealed not to drive us away, but to draw us nigh.