Thought provoking chapters continue in John’s Gospel. What point was Jesus making when he said, “If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him (or her); for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (12:47). It is true that the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus was NOT followed by acts of divine judgment on the nation. It seems remarkable that the time came when “a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7) after 3,000 people had been baptized.

Note the next words of Jesus, “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” (12:48). A knowledge of God’s word as spoken by His son, provokes a reaction among those who hear it, and for many the first reaction was negative. What is it to “receive” the words of Jesus? It is that they become part of you, of your thinking. Jesus expresses displeasure at those who say, “Let me first go and …” – he then comments that no-one who “looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:59-61).

Jesus warned his hearers that the time will come when “the master has risen and shut the door … you begin to stand outside … saying, ‘Open to us … we ate and drank in your presence and you taught in our streets … (but) there will be weeping when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out” (Luke 13:25-28). Will others say, ‘but we did sometimes read your word’?

Jesus continues, “people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God”. Will you be among them? All those who had responded to “the word that I have spoken” – or who read that word and put it first in the priorities in their lives, will surely be among them. May we all be there! There is a hymn that ends, ‘We make the answer now.’