44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 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. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 12:44-50)
“For I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” The whole world fears God. Fear drives the atheism we have in this world. Fear drives the false religions of the world. People genuinely fear God. Death comes for them and they know it isn’t right. The mere thought of judgment that they will stand before a judge brings fear. There isn’t a person who can stand. And our own mortality confirms it. We have not lived up to the standards of God. Our own death reveals our guilt. We are sinners and as sinners we are judged.
But it is precisely that that Jesus comes to rescue the world from, the judgment the world has already received. Jesus hasn’t come to judge the world. Not this time. This time he has come in blessing to save the world, to die for the world, to give his life for our sin, that taking our sin he would able to give us life. Jesus has removed the reason for fear. He has removed the reason for it all.
And yet if you reject him there is no salvation. If you reject him then you remain in the judgment in the darkness that you have received before he came.
He didn’t come to judge. Neither should we. But that is a hard thing for sinners. Judgment is what the sinners know. We judge because we have first been judged. We make it a hobby. I heard a comedian the other day tell the truth. “don’t judge”, he says, “what does that even mean? Who are you to take away my hobby? Who are you to judge me for judging? I’ll judge if I want to. It’s what I do.” Well that is a paraphrase but it works. We judge people for all sorts of things, and it is the sinner in us. I’m always most leery of the people who tell me they don’t judge. They are usually the harshest judges, they have no idea that they are judging. Hypocrisy gets us all in the end. It is quite possibly our greatest sin. Don’t judge. Try this, don’t fool yourself.
Yes, we judge because we have first been judged. The world has judged us a million times over, and if we find the glory of man to be greater than the glory of God, you can bet that in this life, we fear the judgment of man much more than we fear the judgment of God. And the only way to reverse this, is ironically to fear. If we fear God, we greatly reduce the number of god’s in our life, and we find a judge much more permissible than any human we have ever run into. Because God has judged us, he judged us with a word and a commandment that we are to keep, eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, the words of Jesus that Peter says are eternal life. Yes, this too is a judgment, it is a judgment that finds in our favor and declares us innocent, righteous, and justified. Yes the Lord judges us with love. Love that cries out from the cross, forgive them father for they know not what they do, and he covers the sins of the ignorant judges, the hypocrites who know not that they judge. Love, he judges us with love that dies in our place, so that having first been loved, now we have reason not to judge, now we have reason to love instead.