posted on May, 20 2016 @ 05:01 PM
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John ch3 v16).
The key to understanding the “judgement” theme in John’s gospel is that the state of coming under judgement is the default condition of the
It is the state of separation from God, and it follows on from the state of Sin.
Separation from God obstructs our access to the Life which comes from God.
Then “judgement” is about remaining in that condition, and “salvation” is about escaping from it into eternal life.
So that’s the way we should read the meaning of the verse quoted above. Those who believe in the Son of God are entering into a new relation with
God, thus escaping judgement and gaining eternal life.
On the other hand, the man who rejects the Son is failing to take advantage of this opportunity, so he remains in his condition of judgement and
perishes. “He is condemned already”.
When “the light” came into the world, men either came to the light or avoided the light, and that response was in itself the process of judgement
But even as the coming of Jesus brings judgement to the world, there is a competing process.
The world is attempting to place Jesus himself under judgement.
This begins to come out into the open when Jesus heals the sick man on the Sabbath, and the Jews disapprove.
Jesus responds to their attack by declaring that his authority for everything he does comes direct from the Father.
And this includes his part in the judgement of the world.
“The Father judges no one, but has given all judgement to the Son” (ch5 v22).
The Son’s part in the judgement is that he brings life, so that those who are willing to receive life separate themselves out from the others.
“He who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgement but has passed from death into life”
So when the Father “granted the Son to have life in himself”, he was also, at the same time, giving him “authority to execute judgement”.
His word has the effect of dividing the world into two groups, those who will rise to the resurrection of life, and those who will rise to the
resurrection of judgement.
“I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear [from the Father], I judge; and my judgement is just, because I seek not my own will, but the will
of him who sent me” (v30).
Nevertheless, those who reject the teaching of Jesus and want to judge him themselves are continuing to pursue their own course.
At the Feast of Tabernacles, the leaders of the people attempt to have him arrested.
This provokes a protest from Nicodemus;
“Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” (ch7 v51)
Even in their own terms, they are acting unjustly.
Later Jesus spells out the difference between the two kinds of judgement;
“You judge according to the flesh, I judge no-one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgement is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and he who
sent me” (ch8 vv15-16).
That is, the Father and the Son are working closely together, so that neither of them is acting entirely alone.
His final appeal to the Jews incorporates one last explanation of individual judgement;
“If anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him… The word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day” (ch12
In other words, this is really about self-judgement.
The word of Jesus has opened up the possibility of salvation, in escaping judgement.
But the unbeliever has rejected the opportunity, and remains in his original condition.
“He who believes in the Son has eternal life;
He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests [or “remains”] upon him” (ch3 v36)
Meanwhile, the world’s counter-judgement of Jesus is pressing on relentlessly.
It was renewed after Jesus healed the blind man (ch9).
The Pharisees launched an investigation, questioning the healed man himself and his parents.
They themselves were now identifying Jesus as a “sinner”, which meant that anyone who followed him would be guilty by association.
“The Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue” (v22).
That last phrase translates a single, technical word- APOSYNAGOGOS; that is, “un-synagogued”.
In his discourse at the Last Supper, Jesus predicted that his disciples would be coming under even greater pressure after his death. They could then
be plausibly presented as the followers of a condemned criminal.
But he promised, at the same time, that the Holy Spirit would come to their defence, as their advocate, and would “convict” the world which was
seeking to judge them.
(See next post for my previous comments on this promise)
The hostility of the Jews was intensified by “I and the Father are one” (ch10 v30), though this was implied in his previous teaching about their
That was the statement which provoked the people into picking up stones to throw at him.
By the time the Passover arrived, “the chief priests and the Pharisees”, meeting together, were in agreement that he could not be allowed to
Caiaphas, in particular, had already judged Jesus in his mind and condemned him to death;
“You do not understand that it is expedient that one man should die for the people”.
So they took counsel on how to get him put to death (ch11 vv45-53).
The formal proceedings were put in motion when they found an opportunity.
Jesus was arrested and finally handed over to the Romans, a move which was intended to result in his execution.
The official charge was that he was calling himself king of the Jews.
This was for the benefit of the Roman authorities, who would recognise the danger of sedition.
This gospel reports that when Pilate could see no evidence for this charge, the Jewish leaders admitted their own reasons for wanting him dead;
“We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God” (ch19 v7).
Between these two sets of reasons, Jesus was condemned and crucified.
On the face of it, this was the triumph of the world’s judgement upon Jesus.
Nevertheless, Jesus insists, in advance, that the judgement is the other way round;
“Now is the judgement of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out” (ch12 v31).
It was a judgement on the world, because it had the effect of identifying and separating the two groups already mentioned, those who do and those who
do not accept what Jesus came to offer.
It also comes as a judgement against the whole complex of sin-and-death, “the ruler of this world”.
That was the oppressive power which was condemned and overthrown by the sentence carried out on the Cross.