John 12: 44 – 50
44 Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
47 “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. 49 For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
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As I read these verses above a few times, I could almost see Jesus crying out in a loud voice as he spoke. It hit me that these were the last words that Jesus spoke publicly before He was arrested and put on trial. It must have been so difficult for him as he realized that there were still many people back then who would reject his message, and so reject him as the One who could bring eternal life to them.
There was so much that Jesus had to offer for those who would accept him and his message. There is the promise of eternal life with God which I just mentioned. There is also the spiritual reality and truth that those who come to Jesus will not only see who Jesus really is, the Saviour for mankind, but also will come to know God the Father who sent Jesus to this world to save us.
And there is also the promise that those who accept and believe in Jesus will “not stay in darkness”. Jesus is the true light for those who desire to be enlightened spiritually. There are so many man-made attempts to become like God, or become “one with the Universe”. But in Christianity, it works the other way. Jesus is the true light who came down from Heaven to live among us and share this light with anyone who will put their trust in him. So mankind does not need to reach out to try to find God, God has already reached out to us through his son, Jesus.
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There is something else that caught my attention as I read this passage. It says in verse 47, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.” I am reminded of a conversation I had with someone in high school as we rode on the bus toward home. He knew that I had expressed an interest in becoming a missionary one day so I could talk about Jesus to those people who had never heard about him and what he had done for all mankind.
He asked me some very pointed questions. As background though, he started by saying, “So you want to tell others about Jesus so that they can have a chance to accept him and by that means be able to go to Heaven.” I replied, “Yes.” to him. He went on, “But you are saying that if the people hear about Jesus and decide to not accept him, then they will go to Hell.” And I replied, “Right.”
And then he asked me, “Wouldn’t it be better to leave these primitive native people alone and let God decide out of his mercy to let them into Heaven if they have been good enough? Rather than go and preach about Jesus and have them reject Jesus and for sure get sent to Hell? Wouldn’t it be better to just leave them all alone?”
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My friend asked some good questions, at least from a human perspective. For those of us who really do understand what Hell is really like, none of us would wish for anyone to be sent there. Even God says in his Word that he wants, “all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”(1 Tim. 2:3-4) And yet in Jesus’ own words, he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
I know how difficult this can be for many people, but the truth is that by our own acts of wrongdoing, in the words we speak, the thoughts we have and the actions we take in life, we find we are unable to stand before a holy God, who cannot allow sinful thoughts and behaviours to exist in his presence. As Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” And Romans 6:23 tells us that the consequence for all mankind for their sinful nature is death, eternal spiritual death apart from God.
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Praise God though, that Jesus came to tell us that there is a way of escape for all of us. For those who will accept the death of Jesus to be their substitute payment for their penalty of death, and who believe that Jesus rose from the grave to demonstrate his promise of life after death, then to us, Jesus brings us salvation and the promise of eternal life with God in Heaven.
My friend, listen carefully to the words of Jesus. Not only from these last words of his in the passage above, but in all the books of the Bible where he speaks to us about putting our faith in him. Remember, he did not come to judge us of our sins, but to free us from them. So accept him, and be free indeed.