John 12:44-50. Believe!

John 12:44  Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing 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    “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

Here is Jesus’ final urgent public appeal to Israel. He calls his people to entrust themselves to him as God’s Messiah, and in doing so Jesus sums up several of the key themes of John 1-12. Now is a moment of decision. What must be done is an action of faith. Believe!

Faith always has an object. Belief is ‘in’ someone or something. Jesus calls his people to believe that he really has been sent from God the Father, from which it follows that all that he has said and done is predicated on God’s authority. He has spoken God’s word and acted on his behalf (v44). Indeed, as God’s agent, to see Jesus and know him is to know God— Jesus represents God completely (v45). And more than representing God in a symbolic or metaphorical way, Jesus reveals God. He is light, truly manifesting God among humanity (v46). This solidarity of the Sent with the Sender is the reality which Jesus presents and urgently calls people to believe. But on the other hand, the consequences of unbelief are darkness (the absence of light) and judgment (v46-47).

Hearing Jesus’ testimony therefore places a person at a fork in the road. A decision is required. Jesus says that the result of rejecting him is condemnation on the last day (v48). Alternatively, the result of embracing him is eternal life (v49-50). If Jesus really is ‘from God’, all his claims follow. The only other possibility is that he is an evil deceiver. But he cannot be a mildly nice religious figure. Jesus urges us to embrace him as God’s Messiah. Believe!

Lord Jesus. You have come from the Father, spoken his words and completed the works he gave you to do. Please stir up my faith so that I would never treat you as lukewarm or merely nice. Instead grant me such a passion for you that I would continue your mission in this dim world. Amen.