Sermon on John 12:44-50 – “The Word of God is Eternal Life”

Mailed out for: Sunday, May 10th, 2020 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)

Old Testament reading:

[Isa 51:1-6 ESV] 1 “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. 2 Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him. 3 For the LORD comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. 4 “Give attention to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation; for a law will go out from me, and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples. 5 My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait. 6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.

New Testament reading:

[Jas 4:1-12 ESV] 1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. 11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

Gospel reading and sermon text:

[Jhn 12:44-50 ESV] 44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 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. 48 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. 49 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. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

INTRODUCTION

We come to the end of chapter twelve in John’s Gospel with our short passage today of just six verses. While short, there are in this passage two important ideas that I will be speaking about in this sermon. First, in verses 44-46 and 49-50 we find important statements about the relationship of Jesus and God. And then, second, in verses 47 and 48 we find important teachings about Jesus and judgment. We will look at each of these two points in turn.

The passage today is entirely the words of Jesus. He “cries out” so that all around will hear him. What he says is part of his public teaching. In fact, it is the last of Jesus’ public teaching in John’s Gospel. The remainder of Jesus’ teaching in John’s Gospel is given to a private audience – his disciples.

I. Jesus and the Father are One (vs. 44-46, 49-50)

The first of the important points we find in this teaching is that “Jesus and the Father are One.”

Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.”

Clarifying this we might say: Whoever believe in me, believes “NOT ONLY” in me OR “NOT IN ME AS A HUMAN” but “BELIEVES IN GOD” who sent me.”

What is taught is that “Jesus and the Father are One.”

As in the beginning of this passage, so at the end of it. At the end of the passage Jesus says much the same:

He says:

49 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. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

Again, “Jesus and the Father are One.”

That which Jesus says—the very words that he speaks—are a commandment to him from God. What he says, he says just as the Father has told him. The words of Jesus are the words of God. And He is the Word of God. (John 1:14)

On this point William Hendricksen well says “Knowing Christ means knowing the Father. Loving Christ means loving the Father. Receiving Christ means receiving the Father. Christ and the Father are one.”

So Jesus speaks the commandment of God and “His commandment is eternal life.” (v. 50) Or, we can say, The Word of God is Eternal Life.

The blessing of light comes to “whoever believes” the Word of God but there are dire consequences for those who hear His words outwardly but do not keep them.

The Word of God is eternal life, but those who reject God’s word are judged by that word.

Jesus says: “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.”

II. Jesus Came To Save (v. 47-48)

We find in verse 47 Jesus saying “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.”

“I do not judge him.” Jesus came not to judge but to save.

This is said even more clearly in John 3:17:

[Jhn 3:17 ESV] 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

But why then, in other places, is Jesus said to be our judge?

[Act 10:42 ESV] 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.

[Act 17:31 ESV] 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

[2Ti 4:1 ESV] 1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:

So how do we understand these two facts – (1) Jesus did not come into the world to judge the world and (2) Jesus will judge the living and the dead?

The answer is fairly simply. The purpose of Jesus’ first coming is salvation, and only in his second coming is judgment. Jesus will indeed return and judge the living and the dead. But his main purpose in his first coming to the earth was not to bring condemnation but salvation.

Never a truer statement was made than that simple sign in the countryside – JESUS SAVES. Jesus came with a reason, he came with a purpose – to save sinners.

The world was already in a state deserving condemnation. The world needed a savior. Jesus came to save.

And salvation comes by the Word of God.

The Word of God is Eternal Life — Nothing else is eternal life!

The desperation of the world – hoping to extend their lives, hoping to make life indeed perpetual. But the diseases of the world will never all be cured, and certainly the risks of living in this world cannot be avoided. Life can be taken at any moment. A car may come out of control crashing into you. The very roof of your house may fall in on you. Eternal life is at odds with this world. The great desire for life eternal is not satisfied in this world. ONLY in the word of God do we find eternal life.

Jesus came not to be judged, but he was judged by the people in front of Pontius Pilate. Jesus is the one who has the right to judge, not the people! But the people judge Jesus!

Jesus did not judge; he came to save.

But he will return and then comes the judgment.

But we must pause here because “judgment” has bad connotations. So there are a couple things we need to keep in mind about the judgement.

(1) For one, Christians need not fear the judgment because “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). We will be judged, but we will not be condemned! We will be judged as righteous for the righteousness of Jesus Christ! So we need not fear judgment. “There is therefore now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” What blessed words are those.

(2) Then also, the Bible teaches about God’s justice in the judgment in the condemnation of sinners. It is spoken of as “a day of vengeance.” “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord” At the judgment the Lord has vengeance on His enemies and they can no longer oppress the people of God.

CONCLUSION

So in his first coming Jesus came to save, and in his second coming he will judge both the living and the dead. There is no contradiction then between those verses that say he came to save and those that say he will judge. The Word of God is Eternal Life. Believe in the Word of God.

2 thoughts on “Sermon on John 12:44-50 – “The Word of God is Eternal Life””

  1. This what puts a lot of people off Christianity, that is, eternal life. Since nothing much is said about it we can assume it means an indefinite extension of this life. I believe in God, I don’t want eternal life though, I’ve had enough of this one. I want to sleep in utter oblivion and peace forever. This sounds better for people like me who have had horrible lives. Although it I was rich, good looking, and had friends I know that eternal life would appeal to me too.

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