Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

John 3:31-35
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: John 3:31
v31: Some students of the Bible assume that verses 31-36 were observations made by the apostle John in order to explain John the Baptist’s testimony about Christ, rather than them being a continuation of the prophet’s own words. But the apostle John does not indicate in any way that there is a change in speaker, so there is no reason to doubt that John the Baptist spoke them. Throughout this gospel the apostle consistently indicates who is speaking (Jn 3:26-27; 4:7, 9-11 etc.). v31 (continued): The declaration that John the Baptist makes in this verse shows us that he knew that Jesus’ spirit had pre-existed His human birth. Earlier, while still at Bethany beyond the Jordan (Jn 1:28), John made an astounding announcement. As Jesus walked by he pointed at Him and called Him the “Lamb of God,” and then said of Him, “After me comes a Man who is higher in rank than I, for He existed before me” (Jn 1:30).

Monday: John 3:31
v31 (continued): John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins, and John was six months older than Jesus (Lk 1:24-26, 36); so he could not have said Jesus existed before he did unless he believed that Jesus lived in heaven before becoming a man. When discussing the relationship between these two men we should recognize that their mothers were extremely close friends (Lk 1:39-56) and that John’s mother, Elizabeth, must have heard Mary’s report of the announcement made to her by the angel Gabriel (Lk 1:26-38). There is no reason to think that John would not have been told some or all of this information by his parents. With that in mind it is no surprise to hear John speak of Jesus as “He who comes from heaven” or a few verses later describe Him as “the Son of God” (v35-36) (Lk 1:32, 35).

Tuesday: John 3:31
v31 (continued): John the Baptist’s declaration that Jesus existed in heaven before becoming a man may also reflect his understanding of such prophecies as Micah 5:2, “But as for you Bethlehem Ephrathah, [Too] little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity (distant past).” v31 (continued): Having just said that Jesus must increase and he must decrease (v30), John the Baptist now tells us why: First, Jesus is superior to all other human beings because His spirit existed in heaven before He was born. Every other human spirit begins at the moment of conception, but Jesus’ spirit is divine and came from heaven to join the human race. For that reason He is “above all” other humans in His nature, and His teaching is superior to that of every other human teacher. Normal humans come from the earth, so our knowledge is limited to these things revealed to us here on earth.

Wednesday: John 3:32
v32: But the “One who comes from out of heaven” (v31) is able to bear witness to the things that He saw and heard before coming to earth. This interesting statement implies that even after becoming a man Jesus still retained memories of things He heard and saw in heaven. Jesus had told Nicodemus this same truth earlier (Jn 3:11-13). Yet John the Baptist adds, “and no one receives His witness” (literal). At first glance this statement seems to be an exaggeration because many people did come to Jesus (v26), and some even “believed in Him” (Jn 2:23). That might lead us to assume that John said “no one” because only a small percentage of the total population responded. But there was, indeed, a particular truth at the very center of Jesus’ teaching which not even His disciples understood or accepted until after He had been resurrected from the dead.

Thursday: John 3:32
v32 (continued): That truth was the testimony that He, the Messiah, must die for the sins of the world and be resurrected before returning to earth to set up His glorious kingdom. Jesus revealed this mystery many times during His ministry (e.g. Mt 16:21-22), yet no one accepted His “witness,” with the possible exception of Mary of Bethany (Jn 12:1-8) and for a brief time John the Baptist himself. If it is this truth about the Messiah dying and rising that John meant when he said, “no one receives His (Jesus’) testimony,” then he is revealing to us that Jesus literally brought this truth with Him from heaven. Surely it was confirmed to Jesus when He read and listened to the Scriptures, but John’s declaration tells us that Jesus knew the price He must pay for our salvation even before He came to the earth. This insight also helps us understand how John was able to make the declaration, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29, 36). How is it possible that he was able to speak these words at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry? The answer must be that Jesus taught this truth when He came to the Jordan River to be baptized. But then as time passed it appears that even John began to doubt this revelation (Mt 11:2-6).

Friday: John 3:33-35
vs33-35: No sooner does John declare “no one receives His (Jesus’) witness” than he adds these words, “The one who receives His (Jesus’) witness has set his seal (indicated that he approves and agrees in an open public way) that what God said about Him is true” (paraphrase). Who was this unique individual who unlike everyone else received Jesus’ heavenly revelation and publicly declared it to be true? John doesn’t say, but the only possible answer is John the Baptist himself, because he did receive from the Father and the Son revelations concerning Jesus and then he publicly announced what he saw and heard. If we think back to the events that took place during Jesus’ baptism (Mt 3:13-17) and remember the words John spoke when he saw Jesus after He had returned from forty days of fasting in the Judean wilderness (Mt 4:1-11), we will see that the statements John makes here in verses 33-35 seem to refer to those revelations he received at Jesus’ baptism.

Saturday: John 3:33-35
vs33-35 (continued): John did indeed “set his seal” to the mystery that the Messiah would die and be resurrected by publicly identifying Jesus as the “Lamb of God.” In that Jewish setting the term “Lamb of God” could only have meant a sacrificial lamb and in particular the Passover lamb. And then after making that announcement (Jn 1:29) John also publicly declared two additional truths about Jesus which he had described when he baptized Him. First, He said he saw the Holy Spirit descend and remain on Jesus and that God had previously told him to watch for that sign because that person would be the Messiah who “baptizes [people] in the Holy Spirit” (Jn 1:32-33), which is another way of saying, “gives the Spirit without measure” (v34). Second, during that same baptism John also heard a voice from heaven which said, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased” (Mt 3:17), and he publicly “set his seal” to that truth as well when he declared, “I myself have seen, and have testified (witnessed) that this is the Son of God” (Jn 1:34). This same memory of the Father’s voice from heaven seems to be behind his statement here in verse 35, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.” So when John’s disciples came to him to complain that people had left them to follow after Jesus (v26), John reminded them of earlier statements he had made about Jesus. He said Jesus was sent from heaven by God, so the truths He taught were the very words of God. He said Jesus was the Messiah, so He was the One who would give God’s people the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And he said Jesus was the divine Son to whom the Father had given all authority. 

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