Taking Jesus at His Words

Jesus said, “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” (Jn. 12:48).

In some parts of America, the label “Christian” is still a celebrated identifier. What someone means by claiming such a moniker is usually little more than simply saying, “I believe in Jesus.” But even this phrase begs greater specificity. What do you mean by “believe?” And who is “Jesus?” The Bible reveals substantial answers to these questions, and the Bible warns us to take the words seriously.

In fact, Jesus Himself so closely associated His person and His words that one cannot receive or reject one without doing the same to the other. To receive Jesus is to receive His words, and to reject His words is to reject Jesus. The plain and absolute nature of this proposition rubs against our modern sensibilities, but it is no less reasonable or consistent.

The words of Jesus Christ are indeed the promises and precepts of eternal life. The one who hears and obeys Jesus has no judge, but rather enjoys freedom from condemnation altogether. But the one who does not receive Christ’s words… who does not hear and obey Christ’s words… that one will be judged and condemned by those same words on the last day.

21 things about ‘the Word’ in 18 verses

The Gospel of John is thick with theological statements and concepts. John says much about Jesus, about God, about humanity, about belief or trust, and about sin. Some of the most potent and pregnant verses of the entire Bible are known as John’s prologue – the first 18 verses of his Gospel.

‘The Word’ is John’s unique way of referring to God the Son, and John introduces his reader to this focal point of his Gospel with amazing profundity. Here are 21 things John conveys about ‘the Word’ in just 18 verses (and the astute reader will find even more).

  1. The Word was ‘already existing’ in the beginning (v1, 2).
  2. The Word is distinct (in some sense) from ‘God’ (v1, 2).
  3. The Word is (in some other sense) ‘God’ (v1).
  4. The Word is the creator of all things (v3).
  5. The Word is the author of life (v4).
  6. The Word is the one through whom illumination/light/knowledge/wisdom comes (v4).
  7. The Word is unconquerable in illumination/light/knowledge/wisdom (v5).
  8. The Word is attested by God through the witness of others (v6).
  9. God intends for people to believe the Word (v7).
  10. The Word came into the world (v9).
  11. The Word is sovereign over the world, but the Word is also foreign to the world (v10).
  12. The Word was rejected by the very things He had made (v11).
  13. There were some who did receive the Word, and these He made children of God (v12).
  14. The Word is glorious, full of grace and truth (v14).
  15. The Word added humanity to His pre-existent nature and tabernacled among men (v14).
  16. The Word was perceived as glorious by John and others (v14).
  17. The Word is greater than John the Baptist because He existed before him, even though The Word came along after him (v15).
  18. The Word dispensed grace from His fullness (v16).
  19. The Word is Jesus Christ (v17).
  20. The Word brought a new covenant, distinct from the one that came through Moses (v17).
  21. The Word is the apex of God’s revelation of Himself (v18).

May we give ear to John’s witness and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and have life in His name (Jn. 20:31).