Short Meditations in John 3: 12. Jesus’ Testimony (3)
Jn 3:13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man
Because we are only taking one verse at a time in these meditations, we have had to only hint at what we knew was coming in later verses but here, now, we find Jesus alluding to something that doesn’t come out in any of the three Synoptic Gospels – that he has come down from heaven. If some of his other claims aren’t always very clear, this one really is; there is no mistaking it. In later chapters when he speaks of himself as the bread coming down from heaven it is even more clear, but here there can be little mistake in understanding what he is saying in this conversation with Nicodemus.
Basically he is saying that he is a unique witness and he is that because he alone can speak of spiritual things originating in heaven because he alone has come down from heaven to earth. Now anyone wanting to be picky might say, well angels had come down but, yes, they had but only briefly as short-term messengers. This is something completely different; this is God in human form who has come to live in a unique human life for the length of a human life (admittedly terminated early!) But that is what Jesus is saying and if Nicodemus struggled with the earlier concepts, this is really going to blow his mind away!
Now of course Jesus is actually answering the unspoken question that Nicodemus had come with. You remember his starting place was, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Now there is a sense that there he was making a statement: “You ARE a teacher – and that’s all (isn’t it?)” That, it seems, was what was implied in his opening remarks – yes, I’m willing to credit you with being a teacher and a pretty special one at that because clearly the power of God is with you, but is that all you are? Are you something more?
So now Jesus is giving him his answer: yes, I am, I am the one who has come down from heaven. In the context of what we have been saying, I am the only one who can speak with authority about spiritual matters because I alone have come from the spiritual dimension that sometimes is called heaven. Now it is only John’s Gospel that makes this claim in this form but of course the truth of it comes out in other scriptures, e.g. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (Jn 14:9), “He is the image of the invisible God.” (Col 1:15) These all say the same thing: this is God that you have seen on earth, God who came down from heaven.