John 12: 44-50 CEB
Jesus shouted, “Whoever believes in me doesn’t believe in me but in the one who sent me. Whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I have come as a light into the world so that everyone who believes in me won’t live in darkness. If people hear my words and don’t keep them, I don’t judge them. I didn’t come to judge the world but to save it. Whoever rejects me and doesn’t receive my words will be judged at the last day by the word I have spoken. I don’t speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me regarding what I should speak and say. I know that his commandment is eternal life. Therefore, whatever I say is just as the Father has said to me.”
Just before we encounter today’s lectionary gospel lesson, some of the leaders in the synagogue have begun to take the Lord’s words seriously. They are beginning to believe that Christ is God in the flesh, but are reluctant to proclaim it because they fear the blowback from the Pharisees, so they sit in silence. It makes me ponder how some hear God, but are fearful to share our experience for our own reasons.
Jesus’ words, then and now, elicit both belief and disbelief. Perhaps that’s reason verse 44 starts with ‘Jesus shouted’…and the words He opens with are “Whoever believes in me doesn’t believe in me but in the one who sent me.” That would certainly bring down the volume of murmuring and grumbling of the Pharisees and those in the temple…I can imagine them stopping cold when they hear Christ challenging their belief in the Almighty.
Then Jesus recaptures the essence of the first half of the gospel. He leads us towards life in the journey of being people who walk in light. He reminds us not to be fearful, and that He hasn’t come to judge, but we will be judged by the words that Christ has spoken. This reminds me of how all things are possible through Christ who gives us our strength. Christ led a life centered in love for every single human that has ever taken a breath.
Today, for the church I believe that God is calling us to live lives that ALWAYS lead with LOVE. That is the root of who we are. No matter what, as Christians, love is the response we should offer. Love is how we should start our morning and end our night. As Christ didn’t come to judge, neither should we. I can’t help but think in light of the recent mass shootings, the political divisions and overall tendency of humanity to dip into the pool of living in darkness, that if we take God’s claim over our life seriously, that everyone who reads these words today has new ways they can show the love of Christ. May it be so and may we go LOVE boldly!
As a Fire Is Meant for Burning by Ruth Duck The Faith We Sing, No. 2237
(If you don’t know this song, it sounds beautiful to the tune of Hymn of Promise (In the Bulb there is a Flower)
As a fire is meant for burning
with a bright and warming flame,
So the church is meant for mission,
giving glory to God’s name.
Not to preach our creeds or customs,
but to build a bridge of care,
We join hands across the nations,
finding neighbors everywhere
Pastor Michael Williams