John chapter 3 is one of the most famous chapters in the Bible. It records the exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus, and contains the most recognized and quoted verse in all the Bible: "For God so loved the world..." (verse 16). But while reading it this morning something unexpected jumped out at me. I was struck by the eloquence of the last ten verses of this chapter--and how they were not spoken by Jesus. They were spoken by John the Baptist.
John was a truly remarkable man. Jesus said about him: "I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John..." (Luke 7:28). John is a solitary figure on the pages of history. He makes a strange picture dressed in camel hair and snaking on locusts. He preached an uncompromising message of repentance to everyone--the common and the cultured. He had the unique and distinct privilege of introducing the Son of God to the world. He also had his struggles--spending his final days in prison and having some degree of doubt about the divinity of Jesus. But he remained true to the end--bloody as it was--never backing away from his mission to declare the truth.
The words I quoted above have a particular sting. My ego responds: "Do you mean that I have received nothing on my own? Surely I have accomplished something in my own power!"
But that is not what John says. He did not say, "No one can do anything." Man has managed to accomplish many things on his own--he has managed to make a great mess of things! John said, "No one can receive a single thing." To receive implies a gift that comes from outside ourselves.
What is this gift?
It is truth. In particular it is divine truth... the truth about God and His Son. Do you realize how much we are dependent upon God for every ounce of truth we have? We did not figure this stuff out on our own. We do not discover the truth. The truth is revealed to us... by God. He is the One who "gives light to everyone" (John 1:9). There is only one source of truth: God Himself. We cannot take credit for any truth we have--not "a single thing." Any truth we hold we received from the hand of a gracious and loving God who made that truth known to us.
These verses have a divine eloquence--and rightly so--because they have a divine source. John knew this; and he gave credit where the credit was due--God.
Everything we have--especially the truth we hold--we have received.
Do you realize how precious that truth is? Do you recognize God as the Source of that truth? Do you acknowledge Him as the Giver? Do you thank Him for it? Maybe we should... starting right now!