Biblical Audio Commentary – “We”
How many times have we read the Gospel of John and the famous verse John 3:16 in which Jesus tells Nicodemus:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Here we see the immense love of God for all of His human creation. God indeed is love!
Yet, as many commentators have also noted, how often have we neglected the several following verses of John 3:17-21, which provide greater context for our understanding of God, Jesus, and the reason for His coming?
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
From this passage we see there is more than just love at play. There is condemnation and judgment. Jesus is light, yet many prefer the darkness of sin and reject Him. Consequences arise when people don’t believe in God and the love He offers.
A few verses prior to all this, however, is an interesting juxtaposition of the word “we.” In reading this chapter recently I noticed this and wanted to bring it to your attention. I don’t know that there’s anything earthshattering here, I thought it was curious.
In John 3:2 we have the following said about Nicodemus:
This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
He is a Pharisee and notice his language: “we know.” Who is “we”? Obviously, given Nicodemus’ status among the Jews – as Jesus later states in John 3:10 – that he is the teacher of Israel, the man is a very prominent Pharisee. The “we” is the rest of the Pharisees. Those in the clique within which Nicodemus hobnobs have no doubt that Jesus is sent by God. Despite this, throughout Scripture we see these high and mighty religious men opposing Him, asking what they think are tricky questions to trap Him, and then conspiring to kill Him.
These are men well-versed in the Torah – the Hebrew Old Testament. They know the history of their people. The rebellion and rejection of God in the past is quite a familiar story to them. So, what do they do? They repeat the mistakes of their ancestors by despising the Word of God. Amazing.
As the conversation continues, Jesus makes a statement in John 3:11 that neither Nicodemus nor most of us seem to catch:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.”
Let’s pretend Nicodemus does acknowledge what Jesus says here:
“Excuse me, Rabbi, who is “we”? You say that we speak, we know, we have seen, our testimony. What are you talking about? Who is this “we”, Kemosabe?
Okay, Nicodemus might not have used Tonto’s name for the Lone Ranger in speaking to Jesus, but you get the idea.
Do you think Nicodemus immediately associated this other party that Jesus includes in the “we” statements as pertaining to the Holy Spirit, which is what I think Jesus is saying?
I tend to doubt it – at least at that moment. Who else could Jesus be referring to? It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to make Jesus known. He was certainly with Jesus at all times during His earthly sojourn. Remember later how the angel in Revelation 19:10 testifies:
For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Jesus and the Holy Spirit are One, even as they are with the Father. But in our case, I think that Jesus is trying to help Nicodemus see His linkage to the Father through the Holy Spirit, i.e. the reason He states this as He does.
What does this mean for us? Perhaps nothing more than a reminder that Jesus – in the Person of the Holy Spirit – is with us at all times. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Jesus will never leave us, nor forsake us.
God – in the Persons of the Trinity – both loves us and warns us. His love is all-encompassing, yet it is also conditional. That is evident throughout the Old Testament: “If you love Me, then you will keep My commands.” If you’re not familiar with this and look for the if-then combination in this manner throughout Scripture, you may be surprised. The blessings always have the conditional curses associated with them. Never forget that.
It means we have an obligation to God to walk in His prescribed manner. When we do this, His favor follows. When we don’t, we should expect a rough time.
The bottom line is this: God in His fulness has given us much. He has shown us that He alone is worthy. Far too many people have missed this, including the religious men of old. When we follow Him in Spirit and in truth, we please Him and demonstrate we are truly His children – children of God.