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John 3:31-36

The One Who Comes from Heaven

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

At the end of this chapter, these verses provide an explanation and hinge between stories. Having spoken to Nicodemus ‘the teacher of Israel’ about being born from above, verse 31 tells us that ‘the one who comes from above’ is above everyone. This ‘one from above’ is clearly Jesus and so, having established his authority over the teacher of Israel, the author then establishes his authority over John the Baptist. He does so by quoting the Baptist himself.

The author then describes his worldview in which there is a dichotomy between those who are from above/heaven and those who are from the earth. Those who are from the earth cannot hear and understand what Jesus is saying whilst those who are born from above are those that can. The story in the next chapter is therefore all the more striking because it is not a great man of Israel who hears the truth but instead a Samaritan woman who would be considered a sinner in her own community.

As well as revealing the author’s worldview, these verses also speak of the relationship of the Father and Jesus. On the one hand Jesus only speaks what the Father tells him. On the other hand, the Father has given all things into the hands of Jesus. It is a description of unity and oneness in which the identity of Jesus is found in saying and doing only what the Father tells him, while having apparent freedom and authority to do whatever he wants. It is a relationship that appears to be based entirely on freedom and love. 

The chapter ends with the challenging verse, telling us that those who believe the Son will receive life whilst those who disobey him will have to endure God’s wrath.   

Blessings as we pray that we continue to believe in the Son who is from above and brings us salvation.  Be safe!  Be well!  The Spirit has come!

To Ponder: 

  • Some of these verses may be difficult to understand or difficult to accept. Sit with any feelings these verses arouse and offer them to God.
  • How helpful do you find the dichotomy between heaven and earth? What are some words or images that may be more helpful for today?
  • What does it mean for God to be true?

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