Christ Above All!
John 3:31 and other passages,
with thanks to V. P. Black

By Paul Robison

During the last few years of his life, Napoleon Bonaparte, his family, and some other French military leaders were exiled to an island.  One day in 1821, General Bertrand challenged Napoleon.  He said that he didn't see how Napoleon could ever believe that a Supreme Being would make Himself into a human.  Jesus could be called the highest intelligence, the purest heart, the most profound lawmaker, but all said and done; He was simply a man who taught others.  His followers' legends and fables caused Him to become exalted, and subsequent followers conquered other peoples just as all other great conquerors had done, Napoleon included, through the use of the sword.  Napoleon gave a tremendous and lengthy defense of Christianity, but here is just a little bit of it (and I'm quoting but I'm also leaving out large portions of what was said): “Enter the sanctuaries of paganism.  You there find perfect chaos, a thousand contradictions, war between the gods, [and] the immobility of sculpture ... It is not so with Christ.  Everything in him astonishes me.  His spirit overawes me, and His will confounds me.  Between Him and whoever else in the world, there is no possible term of comparison.  He is truly a being by Himself.  His ideas and His sentiments, the truths which He announces, His manner of convincing, are not explained either by human organization or by the nature of things. ... Also, He has nothing to do but with the soul, and to that alone He brings His gospel.  The soul is sufficient for Him, as He is sufficient for the soul.  Before Him, the soul was nothing.  Matter and time were the masters of the world.  At His voice, everything returns to order.  Science and philosophy become secondary.  The soul has reconquored its sovereignty.  All the scholastic scaffolding falls, as [a building] ruined, before one single word—Faith.” What an answer—paganism is human, Jesus is in a category all His own, and the soul and faith are primary.  And that's just the part of the response.  We'll hear Napoleon's conclusion later.  What Napoleon confessed is similarly stated in our reading.  Listen once again to John 3:31: “He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth.  He who comes from heaven is above all.”  Yes, Jesus is in a category all His own!  Nobody even comes close Jesus' magnificence!  Jesus is above all!  One might ask, “How is Jesus above all?”  This sermon will provide an answer to that question.  Please, listen carefully!
Jesus is above all in His existence!  Jesus is above all because He has existed from eternity: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him, nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1-3).  Jesus was with God and assisted with the creation of all things.  “All things were created through Him and for Him. [Now listen to this truth.] And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17).  “Before all things” is again emphasizing Jesus' prior existence before the creation.  Jesus Himself stated the following truth while He prayed: “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5).  No human being can make the claim that he or she has existed from time eternal.  Every tombstone has a birth date etched on it, but that is not true for Jesus.  Jesus is above all in His existence!
 
Jesus is above all in His power! What kind of power does Jesus have? Unlimited power!  There are no barriers to His power.  By the word of His power, the universe keeps its balance and continues to endure until the day of destruction arrives (Hebrews 1:3; 2 Peter 3:10).  Because of His power, Satan and his forces can be defeated. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles [or strategies] of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10).  Isn't this saying with Jesus' power and God's armor, we can resist the evil one?  Now hear Paul's tremendous affirmation in 1 Timothy 6:15-16: “God will manifest in His own time, Jesus who is the blessed and only Potentate [in comparison to all earthly dynasties, His is the only true dynasty], the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.”  No demon, no natural force, and no person have more power than Jesus.  Jesus is above all in power!
 
Jesus is above all in His incarnation! “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  Jesus is truly the only begotten of God. “And the angel answered and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:38).  No, General Bertrand, Jesus was NOT simply a man.  “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, 'Behold the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, God with us” (Matthew 1:22-23).  Jesus ' birth sets him above all other humans.  No wonder the angels praised God in song at the birth of His Son into this world (Luke 2:13-14).  Jesus is above all in His incarnation!
 
Jesus is above all in His mission!  Let's look quickly at four passages in Luke.  The first is 7:22-23: “Go and tell John the things which you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.  And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”  Now notice 19:10: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  Now hear 22:27: “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves?  Is it not the one who sits at the table?  Yet I am among you as One who serves.”  Now notice 24:44: “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things might be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms concerning Me.”  Jesus came to help mankind, to save mankind, and to serve mankind.  And this entire mission had been outlined throughout the writing of the Old Testament, and Jesus, through the events in His life, fulfilled those more than 200 prophecies to the letter!  What a revelation!  What a mission!  What a Savior!  Nobody has ever had a mission so well described and predicted as that of Jesus!  Jesus is above all in His mission!  “He who comes from heaven is above all!”
 
Jesus is above all in His showing God!  Another preacher wrote: “It was through the eyes of Jesus, God looked out.  It was through the hands of Jesus, God reached out.  It was through the voice of Jesus, God spoke out. ... It was through the heart of Jesus, God's love shown out” (Black). “I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30).  “Many good works I have shown you from My Father” (John 10:32).  “And the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me” (John 14:24).  Jesus affirms that He does God's will, manifests God's works, and delivers God's word.  This is why Jesus also makes a remarkable statement to one of his disciples in John 14:9: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”  “Unpredictable emotions.  Brokenness. Frustration.  Loneliness.  The world is longing to find substance.  Someone who knows what is important.  Someone who is stable and can offer true love.  [Was] anyone more equipped to answer their deepest needs than [Jesus] who represented the [Heart] of heaven” (McLaughlin)? Jesus was unique in His knowledge of God, and He has shown us that God is a god of compassion, mercy, and love.  Jesus is above all in His showing God!
 
Jesus is above all in His teaching!  A group was once sent to arrest Jesus, and they returned empty-handed saying: “No man ever spoke like this Man” (John 7:46)!  The people were astonished at His teaching because “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:29).  Jesus was a Master at contrast: the earthly and the heavenly, God and money, the prodigal son and an unforgiving son, the goats and the sheep.  And His teachings reveal our hearts, our motives, and our souls.  He alone offers the words of eternal life (John 6:63).  And most importantly, He practiced all that taught.  You can search the Gospels thoroughly, and you will never find any discrepancies between His words and His actions.  “He practiced to perfection everything that He taught” (Black).  Jesus is above all in His teaching!
 
Jesus is above all in His sacrifice!  “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 2:29).  Jesus was the only human being who has lived without sin (Hebrews 4:15), so He was the unblemished sacrifice offered for mankind (1 Peter 1:19).  He was the promised Suffering Servant for all mankind that Isaiah prophesied.  Mark 15:27 makes this truth clear: “With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left.  So the Scripture was fulfilled which says: 'And He was numbered with the transgressors.'”  That Scripture to which Mark is referring is Isaiah 53:12.  Mark wants us to see that Jesus is the Suffering Servant who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.  Nobody has ever been more mistreated and mocked than Jesus.  Hebrews 10:12 clearly affirms: “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.”  Only by His stripes have we been healed (1 Peter 2:24)!  Jesus is above all in His sacrifice!
 
Jesus is above all in His resurrection!  Jesus claimed that He had the power to lay down His life and to take it up again (John 10:17), and an empty tomb in Jerusalem shows that He lived up to His claim!  Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).  In Paul's great defense of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, he affirms some great truths in verses 20-23: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.  But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.  The apostle Paul had seen the risen Jesus, and so had all the other apostles.  In fact, most all of them died horrible deaths because they preached Jesus as the risen Lord!  Jesus is alive and immortal!  We also will be raised!  Jesus is above all in His resurrection!  “He who comes from heaven is above all!”
 
Jesus is above all in His church! “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18).  Christ is the head over His body the church.  “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:4).  Peter is talking to elders or shepherds of God's flock, so Jesus is the chief Leader over all the other church leaders.  No man is the church's ruler.  Jesus is above all in His church!
 
Jesus is above all in His authority!  Jesus said in Matthew 28:18: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”  Nobody in all creation has a much authority as Jesus.  The word “lord” signifies one who is the master or owner of property, an animal, or a person.  God wants all to confess that Jesus is Lord, the exalted King or master over the universe and all that is in it: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Jesus and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11)!  Jesus is above all in His authority!
 
Jesus is above all in His promises!  Paul declares: “For all the promises of God in Jesus are Yes, and in Him Amen to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20).  Abundant life here, eternal life in the hereafter, a reunion of all the saints, and the New Zion or heaven are all promises made by Jesus.  The apostle Peter calls the promises that we enjoy from Jesus “exceedingly great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4).  Nobody else has ever made to mankind such hopeful promises!  Jesus is above all in His wonderful promises!
 
Jesus is above all in His victory!  There is s spiritual battle going on continually between the forces of God and the forces of Satan.  “For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).  At the cross, D-Day occurred because Jesus disarmed Satan's principalities and powers and made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them (Colossians 2:15).  Because of D-Day, we know that the final victory is assured as we wait for V-Day. “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:24-26)!  Satan, his false prophets, and his demons will all be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10)!  Jesus' victory over evil will be the greatest victory of all history!  Jesus is above all in His victory!
 
“He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.”  Now listen to Napoleon's final proof: “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires.  But upon what did we rest the creations of our genius?  Upon force.  Jesus Christ alone founded his empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him. … Christ speaks, and at once generations become his by stricter, closer ties than those of blood; by the most sacred, the most indissoluble of all unions.  He lights up the flame of a love which consumes self-love, which prevails over every other love.  The founders of other religions never conceived of this mystical love, which is the essence of Christianity, and is beautifully called charity.  In every attempt to affect this thing, namely, to make himself beloved, man deeply feels his own impotence.  So that Christ’s greatest miracle undoubtedly is, the reign of charity.  I have so inspired multitudes that they would die for me.  God forbid that I should form any comparison between the enthusiasm of the soldier and Christian charity, which are as unlike as their cause” (Abbott).  So Jesus also is above all in His love, and His kingdom has endured now for over 2000 years!
 
“He who comes from heaven is above all!”  There is no person like Jesus. He is the most unique person who has ever lived on this planet in all history!  He is not a fable and has not conquered by the sword.  He is God's Son and has gained the victory through charity!  “No one can with Him compare. He is the greatest of the great and the wisest of the wise. He is truly our everything.  He is heaven's bread for earth's hunger.  He is heaven's water for man's thirst.  He is heaven light for man's darkness.  He is heaven's grace for man's sin.  He is heaven's clothing for man's nakedness.  He is heaven's wisdom for man's folly.  He is heaven's peace for man's strife.  He is heaven's justification for man's condemnation.  He is heaven's love for man's hate.  He is heaven's life for man's death” (Black).  If He is not your Lord or Master, won't you let Him become your King?  Who can offer you more than Jesus who is above all?  Come, bow before this King!