Word That I Have Spoken
Several of my Bibles have the words of Jesus printed in red. I have some problems with that practice. It could give readers the impression that the words of Jesus are more important than those of Peter or James or John. If people have that view of scripture, it could lead them into serious error. What Peter taught on Pentecost or at the house of Cornelius is just as inspired and just as important as what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount or in his great parables. Did not Jesus promise his apostles: "Howbeit when he the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak, and he will show you things to come" (John 16:13)? The words of the apostles are the words of Jesus Christ—the words the Holy Spirit guided the apostles into giving to us. They are the exact words Jesus Christ wants us to know.
John tells us that many of the chief rulers among the Jews actually believed on Jesus Christ, but because of the Pharisees they would not confess their belief in him. "For they loved the praises of men more than the praise of God." Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes on me, believes not on me, but on him who sent me. And he who sees me sees him who sent me. I have come a light into the world, that whosoever believes on me shall not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects me, and receives not my words, has one who judges him: the word I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father who sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak" (John 12:42-50).
If a man made these claims and did not support them with his life and works, we would make sure .he was sent to a mental institution. Jesus plainly affirmed that the words he spoke originated with the Father. He also stated that the words he had spoken would be the basis on which all people would be judged in the last day. We must believe Christ's teaching to have eternal life. Jesus taught in the Parable of the Good Shepherd: "I have come that you might have life, and have in more abundantly" (John 10:10). We must believe Christ's words and come to him for eternal life (John 5:40). Our lesson today will be based on the following verse: "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge you in the last day" (John 12:48).
It would be profitable for us to examine the sayings of Jesus as recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke. But I shall concentrate in today's study on the book of John. Philip, one of the apostles, found Nathanael and told him: "We have found him, of whom Moses and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Nathanael was familiar with the little, insignificant village of Nazareth. He asked Philip, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip encouraged Nathanael to come and see for himself. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he exclaimed, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is not guile!" Nathanael wanted to know how Jesus knew him. Our Lord answered: "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael recognized that Jesus was not a mere man. He confessed: "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the king of Israel. Jesus answered him and said unto him, Because I said unto you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these." Now please listen carefully to our Lord's words. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter you shall see the heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" (John 1:45-51).
Two questions on this passage may be helpful. How did Jesus Christ know that Nathanael was an Israelite in whom there was no guile? The apostle John explains: Jesus did not need for anyone to tell him what was in man. Since he created man (Col. 1:16), "he knew what was in man" (John 2:25). And who other than God could say to Nathanael, "Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" (John 1:51)? We do not know the occasion of which Jesus speaks, but such information could only come from one who had supernatural knowledge.
John 3 is filled with Christ's words—all of which will serve as the basis for the final judgment. He urged Nicodemus: "Marvel not that I said unto you, You must be born again" (John 3:7). Our Lord then discussed the absolute necessity of believing on him. Jesus explained his place in the scheme of human redemption. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:14-17). Although these verses have often been misused to teach salvation by faith alone, they unquestionably teach the necessity of believing in Jesus as the Son of almighty God. If Jesus meant what he taught and had the authority to teach it, no one in the Christian era can be saved without believing in Jesus Christ as God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16).
In our Lord's discussion with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well in Samaria, he told her that he could satisfy her genuine thirst—not for water—but for eternal life. "Whoso drinks of this water (that is, the water that came from Jacob's well) shall thirst again: but whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:13-14). If any other teacher or religious leader made that claim, we would wonder about his sanity. But we know—and not just from Christ's conversation with the Samaritan woman—that Jesus does meet all our spiritual needs. He .alone can eventually confess our names before the Father who is in heaven (Mt. 10:32-33). He alone can save us from our sins and give us eternal life.
Jesus angered the Jewish leaders when he told them: "My Father works until now, and I work" (John 5:17). Some modern liberal theologians seem not to understand what Jesus was teaching, but the Jewish leaders had no difficulty understanding. He was claiming to be equal with God. The Jewish leaders sought to kill Jesus—not only because he had broken the law by healing on the sabbath—but because he claimed to be equal with God. Christ lists several unanswerable arguments proving that he was indeed equal with God. Please listen to just one of those arguments. "But I have greater witness than that of John (the Baptist): for the works that the Father has given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father has sent me. And the Father himself, who has sent me, has borne witness of me. You have neither heard his voice, nor seen his shape. And you have not his word abiding in you: for whom he has sent, him you do not believe. Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they that testify of me. And you will not come to me that you might have life" (John 5:36-40).
Jesus continually claimed to have come from God and to be God's only Son. His miraculous deeds proved his claims. There were others, like Peter and Paul, who performed miracles. They made no pretense of being God. Jesus said he was God and demonstrated his deity by turning water into wine, by healing the blind and the deaf, by casting out demons and by raising Lazarus from the dead. Paul teaches that Jesus Christ was a descendant of David according to the flesh, but marked out to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:3-4). These facts should establish Christ's authority to speak for God. Every word he spoke came from the very mind of God.
Reading the great book of John should convince any honest person that the words Jesus spoke came from God and are essential for our salvation. Over and over, our Lord emphasizes the absolute necessity of believing in him and obeying his word. What else could Christ mean in following passage? "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He who believes on me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, that man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give him is my flesh, which I give for the life of the world" (John 6:47-51).
In these verses from John 6, the beloved apostle was not speaking of eating the Lord's supper. He was stressing the truth that Jesus had to die to purchase our redemption. Liberal theologians and others deny that Jesus had to die to make possible the remission of our sins. Carry Wills' book, Structures of Deceit: Papal Sin (New York: Doubleday, 2000), quotes Rene Girard as affirming: "Jesus is not a sacrifice" (p. 305). He also quotes Augustine as saying: "The Lord's was not a death of ransom, but of restoration" (p. 307). There is a serious problem with Girard's and Augustine's beliefs: they are simply wrong. Jesus himself taught: "For the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Mt. 20:28). And what did the author of Hebrews mean when he wrote: "For without shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb. 9:22)? No one can read and believe the New Testament and deny the atoning death of Jesus Christ. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoso eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. And the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so that he who eats me, even he shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven: not as your fathers ate manna, and are dead; he who eats this bread shall live forever" (John 6:53-58).
Jesus often angered the Pharisees by insisting that God was his Father. On one occasion, the Jews asked Christ: "Where is your Father? Jesus answered, You do not know me nor my Father: if you had known me, you shall have known my Father also." Jesus told the Jews: "I go my way, and you shall seek me, and you shall die in your sins: where I go, you cannot come." The Jews wondered if Christ would kill himself since he had said, "Where I go, you cannot come." Please listen carefully to our Lord's words to the Pharisees. "You are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that you shall die in your sins: for-if you do not believe that I am he, you shall die in your sins" (John 8:19-24).
The founders of the so-called "great religions" or of modem denominations might make these claims, but only our Lord Jesus Christ has proved his words by signs, wonders and miracles. Christ and Christ alone came down from heaven to reveal God's will to man and to die for the sins of the world. It is through him and only through him that we can be forgiven of our sins and have the promise of life eternal. Jesus further informed the Pharisees: "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things. And he who sent me is with me: the Father has not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him" (John 8:28-29).
The Jews claimed that Abraham was their father. Jesus rejected their claim. "If you were Abraham's children; you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this Abraham did not do. You do the deeds of your father." The Jews denied that they were born of sexual immorality. They boasted: "We have one Father, even God." Jesus said to the Jews: "If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded forth, and came from God; neither did I come of myself, but he sent me. Why do you not understand my speech? Even because you cannot hear my word" (John 8:39-43). The following words constitute one of the strongest criticisms the Lord ever delivered against anyone. "You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44).
John 9 records our Lord's healing a man who was born blind. Like many modern men and women, the disciples wondered if the man himself has sinned or his parents had sinned that the man was born blind. Did the disciples entertain the idea of reincarnation? Did they think the man had sinned in another life and was having to pay for it in this life? Did they believe the man's parents had sinned that their son would be born handicapped? Jesus made it very plain that there is no necessary connection between our suffering and our sins. He explained to his disciples: "Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day: the night comes when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world" (John 9:1-5).
One of the most thrilling, inspiring and comforting incidents in the life of Christ was the raising of Lazarus. I shall emphasize just one aspect of the story. Martha, one of the sisters of Lazarus, gently rebuked Jesus: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou shalt ask of God, God will give it to thee." Jesus assured Martha: "Your brother will rise again." Martha responded: "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." That was not what Jesus had in mind. He told her: "I am the resurrection and the life: he who believes on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" Martha said to him: "Yes, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, who should come into the world" (John 11:21-27).
There are literally hundreds of other words Jesus spoke that would be profitable for us to study. I wish I had time to discuss the parables of Jesus. They contain some of the most challenging messages in the entire Bible. But I shall devote the remainder of our time to an examination of John 14. Who has not been comforted by these words: "Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where 1 am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, arid the way you know." Thomas had some difficulty with our Lord's words. He asked him, "Lord, we know not whither thou goest, how can we know the way?" Jesus answered: "I am the way, the truth and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me" (John 14:1-6)?
I do not wish to be too technical, but Jesus used the definite article "the" to modify "way," "truth" and "life." Jesus was not claiming to be one of the best ways or the truest truth and the most inspiring life. He affirmed that he is "THE way, THE truth, and THE life." If what he said was true, there is no other way to God, no other truth that sets men free and no other life that lasts forever. Other religious leaders may make such boasts, but none of them has convinced the world of their claims. Jesus added: "No man comes unto the Father, but by me." Religious liberals reject our Lord's exclusive claims, but they cannot deny he made such claims. To put his concept very bluntly: Jesus Christ is our only Savior.
There is one other thought in John 14 I want to stress in closing. Jesus told his disciples "If yon had known me, you should have known my Father also: and from henceforth you know him, and have seen him." Philip pled with the Lord: "Show us the Father and it will be sufficient." Christ answered: "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say then, Show us the Father" (John 14:7-9)? Thomas Carlyle was talking with a friend and quoted the words of Jesus, "He who has seen me has seen the Father." The friend responded: "I could say the same." Carlyle said, "But Jesus got people to believe it." We do not and cannot believe anyone else who makes that claim—not even Shirley MacLaine.
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