John 3 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
This gospel might be the most loved gospel due to John’s rich and extended discourse sections. This chapter is one of the most well-known. In fact, one can hardly watch an American football game without a big yellow sign that proclaims “John 3:16” almost begging the fans to read that verse and hopefully have a born-again experience. Since this section is preached on often, I will direct our attention to the section on John the Baptizer in vs. 22-31. John is one of the most spiritually sensitive people in the Bible.
After the significant discussion of the importance of being born again in vs. 1-21, this section turns to John the Baptizer. Jesus and his disciples leave the city area for the countryside. Both John and Jesus’ disciples were baptizing but not in the same place. The Jewish leaders, always arguing and disputing with the Lord took issue with John over purification. If John is telling people to repent and Jesus is saying everyone must repent and be born again, then the proud religious leaders reject them both. They tell John that he is losing his audience. Imagine telling that to a politician, a journalist, an actor, musician, or business leader. They would all fear losing more followers and want to stop the churn. Most would alter and adjust their message, wording, or product to attract new followers and retain the old. Not John.
John is the consummate theologian. He is given “bad” news from most people’s perspective and yet his response is a perfect submissive acceptance of his role vis-à-vis Christ’s role. If you are honest, when someone gets something nice, you experience a bit of jealousy. Whether it is a gift, award, new car, etc. most of us are happy for the person but there is just a little bit of envy. John was perfectly content to serve in his role as a voice crying out. He responded to people “leaving” him for Jesus by stating his understanding of theology, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” v. 27. What a simple but profound statement that ushers in the best of consequences. John is saying, “People should be going to Christ. I want them to go to Jesus. I am here for a short time. I am here to point others to Christ .”
Watch John as he describes his ministry and his relationship to Christ. He uses simple words that disclose deep and profound theology. First, his statement in v. 27 is absolutely freeing. Look at life through that prism. Second, his self-identity as seen in v. 28. It is almost as if he is saying, “I don’t want or need the attention. I am sent before the Messiah. He is the important One and I have known that from the beginning.” In v. 29, John expresses and explains his joy. Remember, the world preaches. The world preaches that Christ takes away joy and brings division, hatred, and judgment. John says now that Christ has come, “this joy of mine is complete” Christ brings joy!
In fact, a person’s response to Christ tells you more about that person than it does about Christ. Many now and in the past have been turned off by Christ. But we know, Christ is not a joy stealer but a joy giver. So, John sums up his and any Christian ministry with 6 words (both Greek and English) in v. 30. This would be a sentence all Christians, not just pastors or missionaries, should know and use as a pattern of their lives and ministries. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” If Christ is not increasing in my life, then I am not decreasing. If I am increasing, then Christ cannot. If I am big; He is small.
John realizes that he cannot bring life to anyone. John cannot forgive sins. So, everything points to Christ. For us this should only make sense. Verse 31 explains our limitations and Christ’s perfections, “He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way.” We are earthy and do not understand the next life. But the One who is from above is above all (repeated twice). Anyone can understand this, but it will take a lifetime to grasp even partial significance. It is worth your time to try.
Finally, the last verse is simple but not simplistic. Because “the Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand” then the next verse, 36, makes perfect sense. God the Son is not a temporary messenger but the eternal God in the flesh. The gospel is the plan of God the Father to send God the Son and God the Spirit will powerfully bring truth home to the heart of every saint. So, to reject the Lord Jesus is to reject the eternal plan of God. When has God said to any other person, “The Father loves _______ and has given all things into his hand?” No one. Only Christ. You may not be able to convince someone now about the truth of Christ but the moment we die, everyone will know who told the truth.
Dear Father, we need to keep learning about theology, but theology is also “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Lord I want to take great delight in exalting Christ. I was made to worship and obey Jesus. Help me to find my place of service however large or small and be content serving and keeping my eyes looking up to Christ and working for His kingdom. Remind me not to complicate what You have made so simple. We pray this in the name of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.