Friday in the Twenty-Third Week of Ordinary Time

John 12:44-50

One Last Plea

Today, we read in John’s Gospel the last words of Jesus to the crowds before the drama of his passion.  After this, his time and words will be entirely spent on his disciples, with the exception of those words he must speak to the Sanhedrin and to Pilate just before his crucifixion.  It’s as if Jesus uses this last moment to plead with the people who he is and why he came, one last cry that they may believe, one last call to repentance, before his time his time on earth is done.  Therefore, these words of Jesus seem to recap his whole ministry and message over the last three years.  Let us hear them.

Three times in this short passage, Jesus says what he has said over and again throughout the Gospel of John – that the Father has sent him.  As we have read through this Gospel over this “Ordinary Time,” I am convinced that this is John’s primary theme: The Father sent the Son so that what the Son says, the Father says, what the Son does, the Father does, to receive the Son is to receive the Father, to know the Son is to know the Father.  There is no daylight between the two, and we shall learn in chapters 14-16 that there is no daylight between those two and the Holy Spirit as well.  In conjunction with telling us that Jesus was sent by the Father, we are told that he is the light, a theme we read in 1:4-9 at the beginning of this Gospel.  Those who believe in him no longer abide in darkness but in the light.  We are told that Jesus did not come for the purpose of judging the world but to save it.  This does not mean that those who do not believe in him will not be judged; on the contrary, they will be judged – by his word which he has spoken.  Jesus is saying that his word is so authoritative and true, he need judge no one because his word, spoken ahead of that great Day, sits as Judge for him.  And why is his word so authoritative and true?  Because it comes not on his authority but the on the authority of the Father, the One who sent him.  Jesus is the Faithful and True witness who spoke the words of the Father (Revelation 19:11).

The final words of Jesus speak love to the people and end with a wonderful invitation: The Father has given him a commandment to speak to them, and that commandment is eternal life.  I find it odd that eternal life would be called a “commandment.”  God demands that all the world believe in his Son that they may be saved.  To reject the Son is thus a matter of grave offense, for to reject Christ is to disobey the Father’s greatest commandment, which is to receive eternal life through the Son.  Let us embrace such a wonderful commandment with returns of love and joy which such a “law” brings.

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