And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me” John 12:44-50, ESV).
Brief thoughts about the text/sermon:
This year we’re reading the devotional book, One Word, together, and the “one word” we focused on in Week 1 was “word.” One of our readings was John 12:44-50, which will be our text for tomorrow morning.
This passage has two parallel emphases. The first is Jesus’ clear statement that he came to save, not judge. God’s essence is love, and he truly wants everyone to accept Christ and be saved. That’s why Jesus came–not to bring judgment, but to offer deliverance.
But of course not everyone accepts Christ, so the second emphasis is equally clear: a day is coming when for some people God will relate to them only as their Judge. Salvation “on the last day” will no longer be possible for those who reject Christ.
This judgment, Jesus says, will be on the basis of “the word that [he has] spoken.” In other words, it will be according to Jesus’ testimony that he is the Son of God and consistent with the inspired witnesses who recorded evidence of who he is.
If we reject the testimony about Jesus’ identity–if we refuse to follow the words of Scripture–we will meet God on the last day not as Savior but as Judge.
This is an important text for us, because we (and our kids and grandkids) live in a world where it is considered inappropriate to speak of any kind of judgment. God, if he exists at all, cares little for the world’s rebellion and overlooks almost any kind of behavior.
But Scripture reveals a different kind of God. It speaks of a God who fully gave himself to save us, but his offer of salvation will not always be open. He is also a God who judges, and we would do well to think of this divine role as well.