Opening the Gift

How did Jesus summarize His ministry? How do we respond to the gift of Grace from God? Do we reject Christ and subsequently reject God?

John 12:44-50

44 And Jesus cried out and said, “ He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. 46 I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.47 If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. 50 I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”

For the entire book of John, Jesus has been saying these things. Back in verse 20, we saw some Greeks (foreign Gentiles showing up for the feast of Passover in Jerusalem) looking for Jesus. This was the final summation of His message to the public before withdrawing from them. After this we will see His last intimate times with His disciples, since He know He is leaving the earth and will be crucified soon. What do we get out of this final declaration to the world? This isn’t something that is preached about or talked about often. Maybe because He constantly said all these things, but this is the thesis of Jesus’ ministry on earth.

Rejection of Christ is rejection of God

Some might look at this passage and see it as a reference that Jesus is God. Rightly so, since Jesus here is the filter through which we are able to enter a relationship with God. It is through Jesus Christ that this is made possible. It is the whole reason why Jesus came to earth in the first place. Some won’t believe, as they will choose not to, however this does not mean it isn’t true. God’s existence and His grace is not dependent upon our own belief or our acceptance of Him. Rather, He came so that we may have life abundantly, so that we may live in the light, not the darkness. I’m curious to see what nonbelievers think of this passage.

I believe this passage answers a lot of questions about Jesus’ purpose on earth. Certainly, it can create more questions, however I think we would all be prudent to remember that the end of John 12 is a good summation of Jesus ministry on earth. Not just his 3.5 years walking around healing people and preaching God’s love, but continually through those of us who believe. If we intend to imitate Jesus, we will be wise to remember this passage.

God’s salvation is available until the last day

I have often referred to God’s grace as a gift. Just the other day I had the illustration of a stranger walking up to us in the middle of the street and handing us a perfectly wrapped present. Some of us will tear it open right away and accept it. Some will wait to open it, inspecting it and trying to learn more about it before opening it. We might even pray about it! Others still will never open it, carrying it around or tucking it away in a closet most likely forgetting about it the majority of the time unless something happens that reminds you of it, “oh yeah, I have that gift lying around somewhere. Maybe I’ll open it one day. That guy was strange!” Here, Jesus tells us the gift is available to open until the last day. Then, the unopened gift will be opened whether you want it to or not – then you will see what you missed and will no longer be able to receive it.

I know this might sound a bit apocalyptic, but this isn’t my words, these are the words of Jesus. In verse 48, Jesus says that the word He spoke is the same word that will judge the unbeliever in the last day. The original text is logos, the same used in the beginning of John when He introduces Jesus as The Word. Jesus next appearance on earth will result in judgment.

Following God’s commandment results in eternal life with Him

It intrigues me that the word “commandment” that Jesus used here is the same word that the Jews understood as a command from God Himself. While it carries the same meaning as that which we know of the Ten Commandments, it does not refer to them or any of the Mosaic Law itself, but rather plainly, a command from God that is intended to be followed since He is of the Highest Authority. But what is this commandment, since Jesus doesn’t specify? We see this revealed in Mathew. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘ You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

We must first recognize that John is a supplement to the other Gospels. The first three (Mathew, Mark, Luke) give a synopsis of Jesus’ ministry on earth. John, however, is intended to reveal the glory of Jesus Christ as God and Savior. If we “love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind,” we will then receive His gift of grace, won’t we? If your parents (assuming you love them) give you a gift, you will open it, won’t you? Sometimes as grown-up children we kinda admonish our parents telling them they “shouldn’t have,” but we open it anyway, right? Why do we open it? Is it because we want the gift or because we love them enough and know they will appreciate us opening it? Are we not loving them in return by giving them the opportunity to see us open the gift?

What have you done with the gift your heavenly father has given you?

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