“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man”
“How can these things be?” Nicodemus asked, still perplexed by Jesus’s assertion that no one could see the kingdom of God unless they were “born again.” Jesus responded, “You are Israel’s teacher and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.”
“You are Israel’s teacher and do you not understand these things?” – This is not an unfair question on the part of Jesus, for the concept of spiritual regeneration could be clearly found within the teachings of the Old Testament, such as in Ezekiel 11:19-20, Ezekiel 36:25-27, and Psalm 51:10. However, Nicodemus’s blindness to these truths was symptomatic of the mindset of the religious teachers of the day. Their focus was man-centered, emphasizing the outward behaviors of “do not eat” and “do not touch.” We can see this man-centered approach clearly in Nicodemus’s previous response to Jesus when he asked him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Surely he cannot enter his mother’s womb a second time to be born?” Notice that Nicodemus didn’t say, “How can God…?” but rather, “How can a man…” presuming that the burden of regeneration must rest on human effort.
“I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.” – “Earthly things” is not a reference to the natural phenomena of wind and water, but rather to all that takes place within the sphere of earth, including the spiritual interactions between God and men. We who are confined to this earth can have no concept of what heaven is like, for we have never been there. It is another world – a holy atmosphere where we cannot exist without undergoing a dramatic metamorphosis, such as the one described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53.
“We speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen…” – One can’t help but notice that, midway through his response, Jesus mysteriously transitions from first person to third person. Who is the “we” that he is referring to? There are actually several theories regarding this. Some believe that Jesus is referring to himself and John the Baptist, or perhaps to himself and his disciples. Others believe that he is referring to himself and all the prophets who have preceded him. Another theory is that he is speaking as a representative of the Holy Trinity. Personally, I believe that Jesus is referring to himself and John the Baptist.
In John 3:31-32 it states, “The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony.” From the context it is clear that “the one from the earth” is a reference to John the Baptist. Both he and Jesus were testifying about the very same thing, namely the Kingdom of Heaven. However, John was testifying of things he had seen and heard on earth, while Jesus was testifying of what he had seen and heard on earth and in heaven.
Jesus Christ is the only one who has come down to earth from heaven. He is the one who emptied himself of his heavenly glory and took on human form, and who humbled himself to the point of death, even death on a cross; (Philippians 2:6) and he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)