Beginning last fall, I have for the first time begun to seriously, personally grapple with the divinely inspired text of John’s Gospel. I can hardly express to you the wide array of emotions that I have been experiencing in feasting upon the dazzling presentation of Triune theology revealed in these pages. The activity simply intoxicates one with joy.
Where the book of Romans had engulfed me in soteriology, pouring from unfathomable pools of doxology, John’s Gospel has brought me face to face with exalted Christology.
How can my ministry be what it once was after spending these recent days in the latter part of John 3? How can I be happy with much of the emphasis of Christianity in America, when John the Baptist proclaims to every disgruntled disciple within hearing distance: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” As selfless misfits, are not we to be content to lose it all, that He, the Christ, might be magnified in all?
The shame over personal exaltation
The words of the Forerunner are exemplary, clearing away our tendency to exalt ourselves because of either personal spiritual attainments or so-called scholarly acuity. It is a vile shame when our pride in theology ambitiously becomes the chief bramble that competes with the unsurpassed preeminence of Christ. Frankly, real joy only comes when Christ alone is increased.
The unrivaled status of Christ’s uniqueness
In the abundance of all our religious knowledge and activity, it is time to stop bearing our testimonies, to sit down in the pew, and listen to John the Baptist as he bears his testimony regarding the Christ. Jesus is above all. Beyond all. Ontologically more than all. The “all” includes John the Baptist and any other godly messenger that has ever lived on this big, green planet.
The first reason for confirming such an audacious, universal claim
Did you catch the concrete, biblical evidence for why no else even begins to exist alongside the prominence of His unique status? He alone is the One “that cometh from above (anothen)” (John 3:31).
Of course, as I saw the Greek word, anothen, it immediately triggered my memory, recalling the same word in John 3:3, “Except a man be born again (anothen), he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
This only magnifies the supremacy of Jesus. In order for any of us to enter heaven for the first time, a place beyond the atmosphere and celestial stars, we must be “born from above,” specifically reiterated as being “born of water and Spirit” (3:5). Yet on the other hand, in verse 31, John the Baptist, is talking about a Person who pre-existed in heaven before He came to be born. Talk about utter uniqueness. Originating out of the eternal heavenly abode, Jesus is the one Who comes down from on high (above). And originating out of the earth, John the Baptist and I as sinners needed to born from above, a birth of water and spirit, that is provided through the work of Christ alone for the precious access to His kingdom.
A Chief Contrast
“Out of the heaven” is reserved for Jesus Christ. “Out of the earth” is the description for us. Lest we miss it, ek teis geis is spelled out three times in John 3:31. Going clear back to 1560, a Geneva New Testament (though furnished with modern spelling) testifies, “He that is come from on high, is above all: he that is of the earth, is of the earth, and speaks of the earth: he that is come from heaven is above all.” Beings that have sprung up from the earth have limitations. Please understand this. There is not the possibility of them morphing into deity because Scripture does not say they cometh from above and that they are from heaven. Verse 31 is a watershed verse removing my admiration for those that are “earthly” to solidly fix my gaze in wonder upon the Christ.
My wife might lovingly admire me as the king goat of the mountain 🙂 in our limited sphere of existence, but she will always consider me finite because I am of the earth. Because I will never be a god, my dear wife’s expectations are ultimately wrapped around another. Sola gloria.