Short Meditations in John 3: 30. Origins
Jn 3:31 “The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all
When you look at this chapter it seems to be formed of blocks. The first ten verses are clearly a conversation with Nicodemus. This merges into a block of truths about Jesus (v.11-21) which start with “we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen.” Remember that. Then we moved into a narrative bit (v.22-24) which develops into a block about an argument about Jesus’ disciples versus John’s disciples (v.25- present) which appears to start with John the Baptist’s words, but may then develop into John the writer’s words, based on what he had heard Jesus say and knew of him.
Verse 30 is clearly John the Baptist with his “I must become less”, but from this present verse on it could be either John. He is about to refer to testimony which reflects back to verse 11 and also about Jesus having come from heaven which Jesus clearly claims in his words about being the bread that comes down from heaven in chapter 6.
It may be more likely that it is John the Baptist because it does continue the comparison between he and Jesus. Back in verse 27 he had said, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven,” and then in verse 28, “I said, `I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him,” and then in verse 29 he had made the comparison between himself and Jesus using the picture of the best man and bridegroom, and finally in verse 30 declared that, “He must become greater; I must become less.” Again and again we have had these distinctions between the two.
Now that is continued as he obviously refers to Jesus when he speaks of, “The one who comes from above” who, he says “is above all.” He surely refers to himself (the Baptist) when he speaks of “the one who is from the earth,” who, he says, “belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth.” Then he refers back to Jesus when he says, “The one who comes from heaven is above all.”
There is this constant differentiating between the two of them. John knows his origins are on the earth; he is a mere man. Yes, his calling and ministry are from heaven but that calling was by God of a man who was simply part of the human race. When it came to Jesus (and this may be a revelation beyond John the Baptist and only picked up by John the writer) his origin was heaven in every sense. He was (and is) the unique Son of God, part of the godhead trinity, who had existed in heaven alongside his heavenly Father from before the origins of all things. In this he is unique.