John 3:31-36 (CEV) The One Who Comes from Heaven God’s Son comes from heaven and is above all others. Everyone who comes from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all others. He speaks about what he has seen and heard, and yet no one believes him. But everyone who does believe him has shown that God is truthful. The Son was sent to speak God’s message, and he has been given the full power of God’s Spirit. The Father loves the Son and has given him everything. Everyone who has faith in the Son has eternal life. But no one who rejects him will ever share in that life, and God will be angry with them forever.
John the Baptist is answering questions from his disciples about this young upstart, Jesus, who people are starting to follow. What should they do? These verses are part of John’s response.
John paints a picture of Jesus being handed the reigns of power by God (the Father). We might want to talk about the theological thinking behind that picture and what the implications are – that might be interesting, but I doubt it would help us understand how to be better people, so I will resists that and stick with John’s word-picture of Jesus being left in charge.
There is a fairly common film/T.V. trope where someone unlikely is put in charge – often of a hard-bitten and close-knit police unit. The new person in charge is sometimes a woman, often an outsider, maybe a young wet-behind-the-ears academic who hasn’t got the street-hardened years that the other detectives have – whatever it is, there is usually something about the newcomer that causes resentment.
It usually starts badly – their authority is questioned as Jesus’s was (“where do you get your authority from?”); their background is put under scrutiny as Jesus’s was (“he’s just a carpenter’s son from Nazareth. Does anything good come from Nazareth?”); people ignore them, as they ignored Jesus (“He speaks about what he has seen and heard, and yet no one believes him.”) and when the going gets tough, desertion and rebellion begin, as it did with Jesus (“Because of what Jesus said, many of his disciples turned their backs on him and stopped following him.” John 6:66)
But then, against all the odds, the newcomer does something extraordinary and everything changes. (Fill in the blanks yourself!)
Of course it isn’t a perfect analogy – but maybe there’s something in there, and that’s where the film/T.V. series usually ends.
But the Jesus thing doesn’t end there. Jesus goes on to ascend and he leaves us in charge! And maybe we feel like the new police chief, in the thick of it with nobody listening and everybody (including yourself) thinking you are simply not up to the job.
Maybe that’s when we need to (yes, with God’s help!) – DO SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY!
There are so many ways to be extraordinary – we could be extraordinarily generous, extraordinarily loving, extraordinarily grace-filled, extraordinarily kind, extraordinarily forgiving, extraordinarily ambitious for the gospel of peace…
The world is watching!
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