We just heard Jesus say, “Destroy this temple…” (John 2:19) and they thought he was talking about the building. Here we are again, Jesus is talking about a re-birth that is a heavenly, Spirit-initiated birth, and poor Nicodemus is questioning biology.
So to clear things up, John finishes this chapter with a heavenly summary. We can see three heavenly statements in the final verses of this chapter:
Jesus has a heavenly origin: “He who comes from above” (verse 31)
Jesus has a heavenly testimony: “He bears witness to what he has seen and heard [in heaven]” (verse 32)
Jesus has heavenly authority: “He who comes from above is above all…For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.” (verses 31 & 34-35)
This is the summary of what we are to “believe in” from verse 16. Therefore, it is fitting that John closes the chapter in verse 36 with an explanation of “belief.” To John, the opposite of belief is not disbelief. The opposite of belief is disobedience.
Later in this Gospel Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) One could read through 1st John and see that the Apostle took Jesus’ words of obedience very seriously. Take a moment to find a few of these verses in 1st John: 1 John 1:6, 1 John 2:3-6, 1 John 3:6, 1 John 3:9, 1 John 5:3, 1 John 5:18
It is clear, our belief in Jesus is measured by our obedience to him. But thanks be to God that John also makes clear that if (or when) we do fail to obey, the forgiveness of our sin has been purchased through Jesus, so that we may fulfill the commandment through love:
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12
“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” 1 John 3:11
“Beloved, if God so loved us…” (This sounds like John 3:16) “…we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11
“Father, your Son taught us to pray by saying, “Your Kingdom come and your will be done.” I thank you that Jesus came to show us what your Kingdom is like. Help me to have a kingdom mindset, to set my mind on things above and not on earthly things. By your Spirit, reveal to me any areas of my life that are not in line with your Kingdom. Help me to turn from those ways and back into they way you have designed this life to be lived. I praise you that Jesus advocates for me in the times that I miss the mark. And I thank you that you have given me your Spirit to lead me into good works. Help me now to love others as your have loved them. In the name of Jesus.”
Does your lifestyle in this world reflect your belief in the reality of the heavenly kingdom that Jesus revealed?
What habits or patterns of behavior in your life need to be exposed by the light of Christ? (John 3:20)
What are some acts of love that you can do in order to replace those behaviors with heavenly obedience?
How can we ensure that our love/obedience overflows from our belief/salvation rather thinking our salvation/belief comes from our obedience/love?