11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.
JOHN 3:11 ESV
11 ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι ὅτι ὃ οἴδαμεν λαλοῦμεν καὶ ὃ ἑωράκαμεν μαρτυροῦμεν, καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν ἡμῶν οὐ λαμβάνετε.
JOHN 3;11 SBLGNT
The surprise is followed by solemn assurance, which directly names unbelief as the cause of Nicodemus’ ignorance.
John 7:17 – 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority
Jesus uses the same formula as he did in v. 3 –
3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”.
The plural “we” refers to Jesus and the Baptist. By thus combining himself with the Baptist, Jesus acknowledges and honours him. Jesus never uses the majestic plural, and in v. 12 –
12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?,
where he refers to himself alone, he uses the singular. The disciples had not yet testified publicly, and the prophets were too far removed from the context. The Baptist was still in full activity, and Nicodemus knew a great deal concerning him, so he at once understood this “we.” The two great witnesses to Israel were Jesus and the Baptist at this moment.
The two statements, “we speak of what we know” and “witness to what we have seen,” are the same in substance. The doubling is for the sake of emphasis. However, to tell what one knows is augmented by the statement regarding testifying what one has seen. Each pair of verbs also corresponds, and those in one pair also correspond to those in the other pair. One naturally tells what he knows, but he must have seen to testify. To know is broader than to have seen and thus also more indefinite; hence the more specific having seen is added, concerning which one cannot only tell but testify. The tenses harmonize with this, “we know,” second perfect always used as a present; “we have seen,” regular perfect; “seen once and still have before our eyes.” To tell is less than to testify. The singular ὅ greek ‘what’ should be noted in both statements, for it points not to several things told and testified but to the one thing noted in the context, the fact and reality of the new birth. The Baptist knew and had seen this even as he told and testified of it in preaching and in Baptism; Jesus likewise, even now, telling and testifying to Nicodemus. Both knew and even had seen the Spirit who works the new birth. Both, too, were sent to tell and even to testify, which includes that God who sent them intends that they who hear shall believe and thus receive the saving grace, which is the content of this testimony.
However, what is the result? It is added with the Greek ‘καί’, ‘but’ although its substance is adverse, “and you do not receive our testimony.” The inflectional plural is vehement, yet it includes all those who remain unbelieving. This plural is a gentle touch for Nicodemus, allowing him to include himself in this class if he is determined to do so. It almost sounds as though Jesus pleads that he shall not do this. Here, then, is where the trouble lies: clear, strong, divinely accredited testimony, and yet for one reason or another, men decline to
receive and to believe it although believing it would work in them the wondrous new birth. The complete seriousness of unbelief in the face of such testimony Jesus brings out in v. 19-
19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
Nicodemus was torn between the Old and the New, and with all the evident prophecies, did he choose not to see or did the false narrative blind him in his own subjective beliefs. Was he justified in his objectivity based on a subjective view that tainted the divine nature of the prophecies. Since accepting the truth would diminish his self-worth in the eyes of those he subjugated.
Whatever his view was, he never admitted to its falsehood, but as Christians today and with the evidence revealed, what excuse do we have. Unfortunately, we are continually torn between our reasoning tainted by our false views that justify our self-worth, but in reality, we have diminished it to damnation. We continue to justify our needs while setting aside God and his laws. Laws that protect and keep sin and damnation away from us. The Moral boundaries protect and keep us safe but unbridled desires and sin expose us to endless needs and unfulfilled desires that drag our existence into a downward spiral of sin.
Do not waste yourselves in our drive for self-fulfillment but drive ourselves towards realizing our weaknesses and sin. Until we submit to our broken state, faith without the revelation of the broken state is only a means of selfish propagation of an outward mask that hides our inward lie. Christ reveals how far we are from that salvation, and only in accepting that it is our inability to walk that straight path in His light we will never find peace and joy in His promises.