By Tyson Thorne

September 11, 2019

John 39 Large

These last seven verses of chapter 12 are the last words Jesus speaks publicly to the crowds. Not historically, but in John's Gospel this is the case. It is also the the end of Part IV, The Conflict of Men Against the Messiah. So if I were John, I would put the most important of Jesus' teachings here — and he just might have. The last nine chapters are Jesus' journey to the cross and chapter 13 starts Part V, The preparation for the Messiah. In many ways, then, this is a point of transition making 12-13.17 vital to understanding this Gospel.

The time frame for this brief speech of Jesus' is uncertain. It could have been the same day as his heated discussion with the crows earlier in chapter 12, but I think not. John interrupts that narrative by giving us a status update on those who were with and against Jesus, so this volatile vignette was likely said later even though the themes are the same. The way John describes Jesus' speech, along with the placement in the book we've discussed already, points to the significance of Jesus' words. It begins with "Jesus shouted", the only time we see him doing so.

If you were going to encapsulate the most essential spiritual truths, what would be on the list? Obviously the gospel message would have to be on it. How about the nature of the world? The nature of God? What about judgment? They all sound like lofty topics and, indeed, whole books have been written on each of these. Jesus teaches them in a few sentences. The final sentences he will give to public world (the disciples will receive more of his teaching as they accompany him on this journey). Let us start in verses 44 and 45:

“The one who believes in me does not believe in me, but in the one who sent me, and the one who sees me sees the one who sent me."

In flourishing words Jesus equates himself with the Father; belief in Jesus is belief in God the Father. Those who see Jesus have seen God. In other words, Jesus and the Father are one. This is important for the Jewish audience to understand, the Lord God is one. This is one part of Jesus' teaching on the Trinity. The second part comes at the end in verse 49: "For I have not spoken from my own authority, but the Father himself who sent me has commanded me what I should say and what I should speak." The Lord, that is Jesus and the Father in this case, is one and yet they are also distinct. Jesus could not obey the Father if Jesus was the same as the Father. They are not the same, but they are one. Both are God, but both are unique persons. In just two short sentences, Jesus has taught them the essence of Trinitarian theology.

"I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in darkness."

In this single sentence, Jesus tells us about the nature of the world and mankind. The world exists in darkness, and all men who do not follow God (in this case Jesus) are living their lives in darkness. Jesus has come on this occasion to be a light that men can follow to eternal life. Those who remain in darkness choose to do so, and cannot understand the Kingdom of Light — neither its spiritual or moral nature.

"If anyone hears my words and does not obey them, I do not judge him. For I have not come to judge the world, but to save the world."

This is simple, in Jesus' first mission to Earth as God made flesh, as Messiah, his mission is to save mankind. This contrasts with his next statement.

"The one who rejects me and does not accept my words has a judge; the word I have spoken will judge him at the last day."

The last day, that is Judgment Day, is not a part of Jesus' first mission; that is reserved for his second. When Jesus returns it will be to judge mankind.

So much theology and prophecy is communicated in these few verses. It is what our Lord considered to be the most important truths of all the truths.

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