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. (John 3:36)
Right now, at this moment, wherever we are and whatever is going on in our lives, there are really two options co-existing in this world: life or death.
And it all hinges on what we do with the Lord Jesus.
How John the Baptist Put It
This is how Jesus himself puts it in John 3. Jesus said, a few verses before John the Baptist is speaking in John 3:36, that whoever believes in the Son has eternal life and whoever does not believe in the Son is condemned already (John 3:16, 18). John the Baptist then speaks, following Jesus, and put forward the same simple contrast: faith in Jesus means eternal life; unbelief means wrath.
This simple contrast leads us to consider afresh what makes up our most “true and solid wisdom,” which as John Calvin says, is the right knowledge of God and of ourselves. Specifically, we are led to ask: who is Jesus and what are we to do?
The Supremacy of Jesus
The most surface-level glance at John 3:36 affirms the supremacy of Christ. Life and death are at stake here and wherever we land is determined by whether we believe in Jesus or reject him. That’s really it, as we’ve seen, and that means that Jesus is the hinge point of our eternity. Jesus — and Jesus alone — occupies this seat.
Jesus came into a world full of sinners in order to save us. There wasn’t anything neutral about humanity. The world was condemned already because of our rebellion against God. The wrath of God, because of our sin, had become our destiny (Ephesians 2:1–3).
But Jesus lived in our place, faithfully, honestly, trusting the Father in every way. Then Jesus suffered on the cross in our place for our rebellion, bearing that wrath we deserved, taking the punishment owed to us. Then on the third day he raised from the dead in triumph. And now at this point, because of his work, the issue for humanity is no longer mainly about our sinfulness, but about what we say about him.
We’re all sinners. That is clear. But now it comes down to whether we believe in the crucified and resurrected Son of God or whether we reject him and perpetuate our destiny for God’s wrath. Jesus has that kind of supremacy.
What About Us?
There is only one appropriate response to what Jesus has done. We embrace him. We abandon every other pursuit — and every other potential pursuit — to cling to him as our only hope. That is what believing in Jesus means. It means that we lay down everything and we say to him: Lord Jesus, reign in us.
We behold his sovereign power, his incomprehensible supremacy, and we draw near in faith, with our arms open, our hearts desperate, our lives offered up as a living sacrifice. To Jesus, the great and mighty one, we bow and beg, reign in us. We trust him, we love him, we believe him.
This is eternal life.