The Spirit without measure. Studying John 3:34-36

In John 3:34-36, we see the final words of John the Baptist written in the Gospel of John. In this passage, John is giving powerful insights about Jesus and his relationship to God. 

John 3:34 says: 

For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 

This verse tells us that Jesus has been sent by God. That is important to understanding how The Apostle John treats the idea of mission in his gospel. The mission of God is a theme which runs throughout the Bible. 

When I say mission, I mean God’s work to restore sinful humanity to himself and the work of the church in spreading the gospel through which humanity is saved. 

Different writers emphasize different elements of the mission of God. One thing that John talks about throughout his gospel is the idea of being sent by God. It’s mentioned dozens of times in this book. 

And while the idea is present in the other gospels, it’s nowhere near the prevalence that we see of it in the Gospel of John. 

We first see talk of God sending one for ministry in relation to John the Baptist. 

John 1:6:

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 

None of the other gospels use the word “sent” in conjunction with John the Baptist. Luke says the word of the Lord came to John. Mark says “John appeared, baptizing” (Mark 1:4). Matthew 1:3 says:  In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Jude

But in the Gospel of John, he was sent. 

And we see that Jesus has been sent. 

Jesus has been sent into the world to do the work of the Father. John 6:38:

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

We see in this gospel that the way in which we treat Jesus is tantamount to the way which we treat God. John 5:24:

 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 

We see a culmination after his resurrection. He’s talking to the disciples and similar to the Great Commission at the end of Matthew, Jesus says in John 20:21: 

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

It is after Jesus had fully fulfilled the divine plan for his ministry in the world that the one who was sent becomes the sender. And that then puts the onus on the church to fulfill the mission of God. 

We weren’t sent to do this mission alone. Jesus has given a helper. And the same Spirit who was at work in Jesus during his ministry has been given to all who believe in the gospel to work for the mission of God in the world. 

The Holy Spirit has been present so far in this gospel, but he’s talked about with far greater frequency in the later part of this book than in the opening chapters. 

But in the ministry of Jesus, we see all three persons of the trinity at work for the divine plan, and the same is true within the church today. 

Where it says that Jesus has the Spirit without limit. There were prophets throughout the Old Testament who were endowed with the Holy Spirit for their specific ministry. 

But they were not equipped with all of the knowledge of the Lord. 

Illustration – U-Haul 

When I moved to Illinois a few years ago, I  rented the U-haul truck to move our stuff here, driving in St. Louis there were a couple of hills. One thing I noticed when driving that big truck down hill was that it was equipped with a governor which would kick in and would keep the truck from moving too fast down hill. There were limitations. 

God did not give the prophets unmitigated access to the Holy Spirit. 

The same is true today. We see a similar idea in Ephesians 4:7:

grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Yet God gives Jesus the Spirit without measure. 

I think about the electricity which comes into our homes. High voltage power lines can carry electricity that is several hundred thousand volts. It’s taken to substations where the power is reduced but the power of the electricity can still be in excess of 200,000 volts before its reduced at additional substations. But even once you get in town, the power is still several thousand volts as it is further reduced in order to be safe to use in our homes which is generally around 120 volts. 

You think of all the possible power, and what we have to power our homes is so minor compared to that. But still powerful. 

If you’ve ever shocked yourself and it still is very painful. The prophets just had small pieces of the divine knowledge. Some might have had 13,000 volts, some might have had 120 volts.

Jesus is unlimited in what he has been given through the Holy Spirit. Already discussed this morning, but because Jesus is above all and from heaven, he has the divine knowledge and privileges because he himself is Lord. 

The opening prologue says in 1:18:

18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. 

God is so holy and righteous that no sinful person can go into his presence. But since Jesus is himself God, he is able to make God known and Jesus is the one who is given the Spirit without limit. 

John 3:35:

The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 

Some theology. What does it mean that the Father has given all things into the hand of the son? Jesus is fully God and fully man. Jesus is also eternally God. 

John 1:1-2:

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. 

Jesus has always been God. There was never a time when he was not God. Jesus also has eternally possessed all of the qualities of God. 

He didn’t give up being God to become a man. He didn’t become any less God. He wasn’t a man who was promoted to a divine status later on. He wasn’t created. He is eternally divine.  

At the incarnation, when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14), Jesus was fully God and fully man. 

But during the time of his ministry in the world, though he was God, there were aspects of his divine ability which he temporarily laid aside. 

How exactly that works we cannot understand. There is one being in history who was fully God and fully man and that is Jesus. 

Again, he is eternally God. 

And these ideas will unfold more throughout this gospel, but we start to see some elements of the relationship between Jesus and God. 

Jesus is the one who dies for sins. He bears the divine wrath for our sins. As we’ve already said, he’s the one who is sent. 

John 5:19:

Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

And several other passages in this book. But the Trinity is a perfect relationship between the three persons. So one thing this verse does is it tells us that the Father loves the Son. And while we see throughout this book that Jesus honors God, it is also God who gives all things to Jesus. 

So Jesus relinquishes some of his privileges during his ministry yet God also grants him all things. Jesus is sent by God and submits to the divine plan while on earth but Jesus is also enabled to fulfill the divine plan through his life, death, and resurrection.  

 Christology is perhaps the most intricate and complicated are of study within theology. 

So I realize that’s pretty abstract. We’ll have other places in this gospel where the relationships within the Trinity are talked about at greater length. 

Verse 36:  

36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. 

This verse is a summary of the two routes we can take with the gospel. We can trust in Jesus. Believe in him. Place our seal on the truth of his gospel. 

The promise is eternal life. The consequence for not believing in him is that the wrath of God remains on you. Not a new idea in this gospel, but again, one we must be constantly reminded of. The gospel message itself. 

Belief in Jesus, and that alone, is what brings eternal life. Without that, there is no salvation. 

Jesus is above all. We are of the earth. Jesus speaks the Word of God. We create a manmade gospel where we make ourselves our hope. 

Jesus bears witness to what he has seen and heard as one who came from heaven and who makes God known. As one who has the Holy Spirit without limit. 

And it is because of who Jesus is that he is the one who has the authority over admission into the kingdom of heaven. 

Because he came from there and died so that we could go there. 

It is through him and him alone. 

Where have you placed your seal? 

Is your hope in Christ? Or is it in yourself? 

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