He 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; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he 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.(John 3:31-35)
The new birth is all about Jesus. It was the offering of his life which made it possible for a Holy God to offer sinners a new heart and “a washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
In Jesus we are “born again unto a living hope…”, but “Not of corruptible seed bu incorruptible, by the Word of God…” (1 Peter 1:3 and 1:23).
The new birth was given by God to us that we might enter a process whereby we are steadily “…conformed to the Image of the Son of God”(Romans 8:29). The goal is that we share in the nature and character of Jesus.
Birth from above is entered into by those who “Receive him…”, they are the ones who by faith become “sons of God”, that is, those who receive the Messiah Jesus, as the Lord and saviour and sacrifice for sin.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
Jesus is the author and source and cause of the new birth, having been sent by God the Father, that we might have the indescribable privilege of being begotten of God.
Therefore it is fitting that John the evangelist was led by the Holy Spirit to conclude this chapter of his gospel on the new birth, with this testimony to Jesus by John the Baptist. It was in response to a question that was asked John’s disciples about ‘purification’.
Judaism already had ‘baptisms’, ceremonial washings for ritual uncleanness before John the Baptist. But the faithful Jews in that day could accept that John’s baptism was a valid reform movement within Judaism, in the tradition of Elijah or the other prophets. Obviously God had raised up John, to call his people back to him in repentance.
But with the emergence of Jesus, they perceived something further. John was already telling people to quit following him , that they might follow Jesus. Why should they who responded to John’s call to repentance, now concern themselves with this new movement which had subsequently arisen?
Who is this Jesus, who supersedes rabbinic Judaism and even it’s reform , through the God appointed prophet, John (Baptist) ?
John answers in these succinct Christological statements on the person of Christ;
* Christ came from above – Jesus didn’t come from Bethlehem, though He was born there. As the prophet Micah tells us,
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.(Micah 5:2)
Jesus is no reformer, nor is he merely a prophet, or a servant of God. When we are dealing with Jesus, we are dealing with “the Son of Man, who came down from Heaven…”(see John 3:13), who is God incarnate!
He that is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth … refers to all other men. Even the greatest prophets lived and operated out of a human perspective, other than the times when they were used by God to convey His Holy Word. Being of the earth means being human, limited, and having a temporal frame of reference.
Jesus is the man who is the “…Lord from heaven…” (I Corinthians 15:47).
* Jesus comes speaking as an eyewitness to eternal things – And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony… Earlier in the chapter Jesus said something similar to Nicodemus, “We speak the things we have seen, and you believe not…”.
Having come from eternity, Jesus needed no vision or revelation to know the mind of God, as other previous prophets. Jesus is in an entirely different class of being. He was there, when Adam and Eve fell, when Abraham was called, When Satan fell like lightning!
And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven…(Luke 10:18)
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.(John 8:56)
What Jesus knows about God, man, eternity, Truth, the gap between man and God, salvation, is personal knowledge, He knows it first hand, none of it was mediated to Him.
Why should we believe that? The resurrection compels us to believe in Jesus.
* Jesus’ testimony is the testimony of God himself therefore those who believe in Jesus are saying that ‘God is right’ ,”He is true”. To reject the testimony of Jesus is tantamount to saying that God is a liar!
This is what it means to “set your seal” that God is true. It is as though God put hot wax as a seal on a scroll of His testimony, and you have an embossed signet ring, which you press into the wax, as a way of saying “Amen”.
In another place we are given a summary of the testimony of God;
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. ( I John 5:9-12)
God gives us eternal life through the Son, Jesus. He “came by water and by blood” , that is, He was always the Christ, before his baptism, and He never stopped being the Christ, even when he was crucified. There was never a time when he became “Christ”, for He is the eternal One, who came into the world to save us.
* All things have been committed to Him by the Father – Salvation, the new birth, final Judgment, the Kingdom of God, forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting have all been committed to Jesus by the Father.
God cannot be known other than through Jesus. A person’s attitude towards God is revealed by his attitude towards Jesus. Salvation is only possible through Jesus, there is no other name given among men whereby we might be saved, than through Jesus.
One day, every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.