John the Baptist makes a statement strikingly similar to Jesus’ statement to Nicodemus. You will recall that Jesus said to Nicodemus: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (Jn. 3.16-17) John the Baptist says to his followers: “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 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.” (Jn. 3.34-36)
It’s essential to note that both John the Baptist and Jesus (as well as John the Zebedee who likely authored the Gospel) expected the Jewish Nicodemus and the Jewish disciples of John the Baptist to understand and relate to the language of the supremacy of the Son of God. In other words, to be used so openly and freely, it must not have been a new or foreign concept to them as we normally think. After all the Sonship of God concept was the very argument that both Jesus and John the Baptist employed to prove their point. The Samaritan Israelites just like John’s disciples struggled to accept supremacy of Jesus. However, they needed to do so, because Jesus was the Chosen King with legitimate authority from above. He was the Son of God – His royal appointee. To listen to Jesus meant to listen to God himself. To disobey Jesus meant to disobey God himself. Jesus was not optional for John’s disciples, for Israelite Samaritans, or for anyone else who might stumble over these words in years to come – His capable rule of God’s people was unavoidable necessity.