5th Sunday of Easter: John 3:31-35
Jesus has a heavenly origin and is above all (3:31). John 3:31: “He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.” John seems to be commenting on Jesus’ words to Nicodemus (3:11-13): “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.”
John is repeating the point that Jesus’ existence did not begin when He was born to the virgin Mary. The eternal Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Jesus came to this earth from heaven, where He dwelt eternally with the Father. Through the virgin birth Jesus took on human flesh so that He could bear the penalty for our sins. But now He is again exalted on high, “above all,” a point that John repeats twice for emphasis (some manuscripts omit the second repetition, but it is probably original).
John is not the only apostle to affirm that Jesus is now above all. In Ephesians 1:20-22a, Paul says that after God raised Jesus from the dead, He seated Him “at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet ….” The apostle Peter affirms (1 Pet. 3:22) that Jesus “is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.” And, the author of Hebrews spends the entire first chapter of that letter asserting that Jesus, the Creator of all things, is over all the angels.
In our text (3:31) John contrasts Jesus with John the Baptist, “who is of the earth, is from the earth and speaks of the earth.” He is not nullifying the testimony of John, but rather pointing out its limitations by contrasting it with the superior testimony of Jesus. While John the Baptist was a faithful witness of all that God entrusted to him, he was nonetheless human. He only had a limited understanding of the things of God, as all humans do to one extent or another. But Jesus dwelt eternally with the Father (17:5).
Because Jesus came to earth from heaven and is now back in heaven, exalted above all others, we must believe everything that He has told us about God and heavenly things.