W i d e A n g l e | John 3.31-35
He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. John 3:31-34 | ESV
Now it’s me, the narrator again – with just a few postscript comments on this final dipper scene:
You want to talk about greatness, about superiority? The One coming from above, from out of this world, has a handle on everything – and everyone; the one exposed to not much more than the local neighborhood can talk about local happenings, but that’s about it. You want more than that, it’s going to take Someone with a much more wide angle view. That Someone has come, and now he’s giving us an earful of testimony as to what he has seen and heard – but no one’s interested in what he has to say! Ah, but the one who does perk up and listen does more than put her seal of approval on a man’s message – she hears the Voice of God – and she owns him as true. When God does the sending it’s God doing the talking when the messenger shows, and there’s no holding back: God doesn’t mince his words – or his Spirit! MAV
Many scholars concur that the narrator once again breaks in here, once again and finishes out what we know as chapter 3. No doubt it’s John’s personal connection with that inner circles of John the Baptist’s disciples that prompts his interjection. At one time John would have identified with the angst of the Baptist’s disciples at their rabbi being so fully eclipsed by a Jesus-come-lately. But now he has not just the perspective of the years since, he has a hugely expanded perspective on this Jesus himself. John the Baptist may have been a bright shining light, but Jesus was the out-raying of God’s glory. One the Baptist had pointed out Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” it seems pretty clear that John started following Jesus and never looked back. John was merely a booster rocket falling back to earth after its mission is accomplished; Jesus was the orbiter. And so John explores a series of contrasts: the man of the earth, John the Baptist, whose perspective and understanding is limited by such earthly horizons; Jesus is the One “from above,” the out-of-this-world Man with the ultimate wide angle view. Who wouldn’t want to have the perspective of the greatest of all prophets? But when Jesus walked into the room, who would stay or look anywhere else? Humanity is obsessed with making first contact with life off this planet. So imagine a genuine visitor from outer space, someone truly out-of-this-world, shows up requesting an interview with the major media outlets. Now imagine nobody listening or caring. That’s the situation John presents here. An other-worldly Visitor shows up on the scene, brimming with knowledge and insight that will totally change the way we see life, the world, reality…and no one cares. The media turns him down. People are more interested in infomercials, daytime dramas, and nighttime reality shows. That’s the incongruity John has witnessed. It’s as if he wants to smack his former fellow Baptist compatriots up the side of their heads, asking them, “What’s the matter with you? Don’t you know who this is? Where he’s from?” Well, do we?
Does Jesus and his out-of-this-world message really have your attention? How does it show?
Lord, draw my eyes up from the dust swirling around my feet; draw my eyes up to see the world, to see life – to see you, with a much wider lens. Give me the wisdom to turn away from those with a narrowed perspective that can only talk theory about the way, and to really see and hear the One who is the Way.
For all of this week’s small group resources including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.