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
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
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
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!