John – “But Who Do You Say That I Am?” – John 3:31-36

If you go into just anybody’s home, you will likely see pictures in frames hanging on the walls. The pictures you see are likely members of the family or landscapes or maybe even religious pictures. Most people still rely on a trusty nail to hold their pictures on the wall. Why? Because a nail won’t break and will hold up the picture frames securely in place. If you use something else like a thumbtack or tape, chances are it won’t hold and the picture frame will fall. Jesus Christ is the nail that holds everything in place and without that nail, everything falls apart as evidence to what is happening in America today.

In this last passage that closes out Chapter 3 of John’s Gospel, John, the disciple (or John The Baptist depending on whose viewpoint you want to take), makes this point abundantly clear and that is that Jesus Christ is the nail that holds everything in place and that He is the nail that we need to rely on. Turn in your Bibles to John Chapter 3 and verses 31 to 36. As always, I’ve included the text link and audio for the chapter so you can follow along but before we get started, let’s pray…

Father,

Thank You for Your Word that brings truth and light into our lives for those of us willing to receive it. As we look at these last six verses in Chapter 3 of John, Father let this truth sink in that Jesus Christ is the nail that holds everything in place and that He is the only one that we need to rely on and nobody or nothing else but Him. And now Lord, our hearts and minds are open to hear what You have to say. Speak Lord, for your servants are listening in Jesus’s name we pray…Amen!

John 3

Let’s look at the passage that will be covered in this post…

(31) He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. (32) And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. (33) He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. (34) For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. (35) The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. (36) He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” … John 3:31-36 NKJV

There is a difference of opinion on who is speaking here. Most believe that John The Baptist is continuing his thoughts from verses 27 to 30. However, some people believe that John The Baptist words end after verse 30 and this is now John the disciple and the writer of this Gospel’s words and he is sort of giving an editorial here in verses 31 thru 36. I believe this is the case as well and here’s why. The reason why many people, including most Bible commentators, believe this is still John The Baptist speaking is because of where the quotation marks begin and end. They begin in verse 27 and end in verse 36 leading one to believe that these are still John The Baptist’s words. However, the original text found in the King James Version has no punctuation so that leads some to believe that after verse 30, John The Baptist is done speaking. Also if you take a closer look at this passage, it looks and sounds very similar to John the disciple’s other writings. Compare the above passage to this passage from 1 John…

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— (2) the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— (3) that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. (4) And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. … 1 John 1:1-4 NKJV

The styles are very similar. One last point to make about this before moving on. When you make a profound statement like John The Baptist does in verse 30, “He must increase but I must decrease”, you don’t need to add anything further to it. You’re pretty much done saying else. Therefore, this is why I believe that this is John the disciple’s comments here and not John The Baptist’s. This is John the disciple explaining why John The Baptist is saying that Jesus must increase and he must decrease and why we need to trust and rely on Jesus and Him only. Let’s take a closer look at this passage now. …

v 31 – (31) He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.

John speaks of why Jesus Christ is supreme and why He is so unique in verses 31 thru 36. First here, John speaks of Christ’s origin…heaven. No one in The Bible, not Moses or any of the prophets, or anyone else on earth can claim that they came from heaven. The only one that can make that claim is Jesus Christ because He is from heaven. Jesus is God in a human body. Going back to John 1:1, it says…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … John 1:1 NKJV

And then way down in verse 14 in the same chapter…

(14) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. … John 1:14 NKJV

Can’t make it any more clearer than that! One thing you will find out in John’s Gospel is that John doesn’t give a bunch of cool stories about Jesus and then makes his point. Nope, he gets to the point right away! He says, “Look Jesus is God and here’s why!”.

Jesus Himself says that His origin is from heaven. In John 6:32, Jesus says…

(32) Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. … John 6:32 NKJV

And continuing further down in John 6, we have these words from Jesus…

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. … John 6:38 NKJV

Let’s stop for a moment. Another reason about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ was that He was the only one born with the distinct purpose to die. Jesus Christ didn’t come to tell a bunch of cool stories or to make people feel good about themselves. He came to save people from their sins and the way He would do that is to suffer a brutal death by being nailed to a cross. When John The Baptist points Jesus out. he says, “Look! The lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”. A lamb was a sacrificial animal sacrificed in the temple for the forgiveness of sins. Basically, Jesus’s mother Mary “had a little lamb”! He who comes from above is above all , this statement that John makes points out the supremacy of Jesus. In other words, John is saying, “The buck stops here!”. There is no one higher than Him! Not Moses nor the prophets…no one! This is evidenced by the next comment that he makes…he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. Let’s move on. …

vv 32-33 – (32) And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. (33) He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true.

The next thing that John points out about why Jesus is unique is what He proclaimed to our world. Look at the first part of verse 32…And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies. His testimony came from heaven, in other words, John is telling us that He was there! He saw it all! Everything you read in The Bible, Jesus knows firsthand because He was there from the very beginning! Remember how the Pharisees and the Sadducees would try to trip up Jesus with things from the Scriptures? Take divorce for example. They told Jesus that Moses had permitted it but take a look at what Jesus told them…

He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. … Matthew 19:8 NKJV

Perhaps the statement that best illustrates the point that Jesus was there from the beginning and therefore, spoke with authority, can be found in John 8. Again in this chapter, the Pharisees are arguing with Jesus about who He really is and check out what Jesus tells them…

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” … John 8:58 NKJV

This statement right here points out to us that Jesus IS God! People say, “Well Jesus never said He was God!”. Oh really? What about this verse? The statement, I AM, was what God told Moses to tell the people if they asked who sent him. I will delve into this verse further when we get to Chapter 8 in this study but I have to tell you after mulling this verse over for some time after truly reading it, I came to the conclusion, as you should as well, that Jesus is God in human flesh!

The next part of verse 32, and no one receives His testimony, is (what I believe to be) a statement of possible sarcasm or frustration from John. It’s a statement that shows what I believe is unbelief and bewilderment from John about why people were so unreceptive to Jesus. It was like John was saying, “What is it going to take for you to realize that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God!”. The statement that no one received Jesus’s testimony is not exactly correct though because verse 33 says…He who has received His testimony. This must mean that some people did. This is true because in Chapter 4, we will be looking at one who did…the woman at the well. Others did as well but for the most part, most people did not. A lot of people are like the Christians today in our country. They hung around Jesus because He did a lot of cool stuff and said a lot of cool things but when He probed deeper into the hearts of the people or when the going got tough, they bailed! 

Verses 32 and 33 were true back then and they still are today. Some people will accept Jesus but for the most part, people don’t want anything to do with Him! The main reason why is explained in verse 33…He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. God is truth and the world can’t stand it! Their excuse is and you hear this all the time…”I just can’t believe in The Bible because it has so many contradictions!”. Here’s a fact for those people though…THE BIBLE HAS NO CONTRADICTIONS! What it does though is contradict people’s way of life and they can’t handle that! The Bible exposes the truth on how people lead their lives. It exposes the sinful nature that is in all of us and we can’t stand it! There’s a story in the Book of Acts of Stephen, a disciple of Jesus, addressing the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council, and he is going through the history of the Jewish people up to that point and how they were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. He ends his speech with this statement…”You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit as did your fathers, so do you!”. What happens? Did they walked up to him, slap him on the back, shake his hand and say, “Right on brother!”? No, the text says that they were cut to the heart and they gnashed their teeth at him and then they stoned him! The Scriptures produce conviction in people and that is what they can’t handle! Let’s move on. …

vv 34-35 – (34) For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. (35) The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.

Jesus was not a man which the Holy Spirit was given to. He had a full, unrestricted flow of the Holy Spirit. Jesus wasn’t a vessel of the wisdom of God…He was a fountain! The prophets were given the Holy Spirit by measure. They had certain degrees of Him but Jesus had the Spirit without measure. The prophets were messengers who brought “letters from heaven” so to speak but Jesus was an ambassador. He spoke as no other prophet did although He was mistaken to be a prophet by some of the people. All fullness of the Godhead was in Jesus. He spoke as no one on earth had or ever will!

In verse 35, is the first of seven times that John will use the phrase, The Father loves the Son, in his Gospel. Jesus shared a unique relationship with God that no one else could. Whereas the prophets were just merely servants of God, Jesus is God’s Son and God took delight in Him as we see in these two examples in the Scriptures…

Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, … Proverbs 8:30 NKJV

And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” … Matthew 3:17 NKJV

Even through the humiliation of the torture and the crucifixion which Jesus suffered because of the sins of mankind, The Father still loved the Son.

The rest of verse 35 speaks of Jesus’s dominion. The Father not only loves the Son but The Father has also given everything into His hand.  This also ties into verse 31…He who comes from heaven is above all. What this means is that Jesus is Lord of all…Lord over everyone and everything! He owns it all! He owns it all because He made it all. He sustains and maintains the universe. In Hebrews 1, the writer says…

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, (2) has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; … Hebrews 1:1-2 NKJV

And in Colossians 1:17, Paul says…

And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. … Colossians 1:17 NKJV

Because The Father has given everything into His hands which makes Jesus Lord of all, that means you belong to Him as well! You belong to Him whether you are believer in Christ or not. He owns you and controls you. Everything we have belongs to Him…our possessions, our families, our finances etc. We are just stewards of what the Lord blesses us with in life. You’ve heard of this saying, I’m sure, “God is my co-pilot”. You will see this on bumper stickers on people’s cars. Really? Do you really think that you are in control and God is just “along for the ride” giving you guidance here and there? BZZZ! Wrong! He is not your co-pilot…He is the pilot! As a matter of a fact, you aren’t even in the cockpit! LOL! One last thing about Jesus’s dominion. Because He made it all, He has the right and the authority to end it all! We see this in Revelation 5 which in part says…

And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, … Revelation 5:9 NKJV

Because Jesus has the right and the authority to end it all, John makes a point and gives a warning to close out the chapter in verse 36…

v 36 – (36) He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

This last point that John makes is that Jesus determines our destiny. His reception by us will determine what happens to us. This verse, more or less, is John emphasizing what Jesus said back up in verse 18. There are many types of people in this world…black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, Arabic etc. There are many types of religions in the world…Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam etc. There are those who don’t believe in any religion as well. However, with all the different types of people, religions, and cultures that are in the world, John makes this point…there are only two types. There are those who believe in Jesus and those who do not. Those who do will have everlasting life. Those who do not will not have everlasting life and John says the wrath of God abides on him. You see, we live in a culture that says that all you have to do is do good and you’ll be a good person. That’s not what The Bible says though. The Bible says that we were born dead in sin. In Ephesians, Paul says that we were dead in trespasses and sin.

Notice that John uses present terms in this verse. He who believes in The Son has everlasting life. John doesn’t say “will have everlasting life”. No, he says has everlasting life. That means once you truly accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have everlasting life! It’s a done deal! However if you don’t, John says that the wrath of God abides on him. That word abides is also present term. Translated it means that the wrath of God remains on those who do not believe and accept Jesus Christ unless they change that decision. 

As we read this verse, we should realize that this is really God and not John speaking. So if God is speaking through His Son, why aren’t people listening? From this verse we learn that our eternal destiny depends on what we do with the Son of God. If we receive Him, God gives us eternal life as a free gift. If we reject Him, we will never enjoy everlasting life, and not only so, but God’s wrath already hangs over us, ready to fall at any moment. Notice that there is nothing in this verse about keeping the law, obeying the Golden Rule, going to church, doing the best we can, or working our way to heaven.

In closing, John is saying in this passage that we have been looking at that there is no use putting your energy and effort into anything or anyone else other than this one “nail” which is Jesus Christ. The fact is that this world, and America in particular, is populated by a whole lot of “dead” people…”dead man walking” so to speak. This not only applies to unbelievers but also to supposed believers in Christ as well! These are the “believers” that the Lord will say to them…”I never knew you! Depart from Me you who practice lawlessness!”. Doesn’t have to be this way though. This is what the rescue of Jesus Christ is all about! It is God’s grace in forgiving us if we put our trust and rely on His Son. After all, God put all His eggs in a basket by allowing and relying on His Son to hang on a cross to save us all. Now, shouldn’t we accept that free gift of forgiveness by accepting and trusting in and relying on Jesus? Let’s pray…

Father,

Thank You for allowing Your Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross to forgive us all, those who are willing to accept Him. Thank You for showing us through John why Jesus Christ is so unique and so supreme and why He is the “nail” that will never break. So unique because He came from heaven; so unique because He spoke like no else ever had or ever will and so supreme because He made and controls everything. Lord, we pray that You would help us to rely and trust on You more and more each day, our reception of You, and that if there are those who haven’t done that, haven’t put their trust in that “nail” that will never break, that they will do so today…right now! Thank You Lord for all the blessings and yes all the tribulations as well that help us to become stronger believers in relying on You in the saving name of Jesus Christ we pray…Amen!