A crowd of people has just confronted Jesus. They think he is confused. Maybe they think he is wrong. He says the foretold Jewish Messiah will die. The crowd knows their Bible, and the ancient prophecies say the Messiah will live forever. Jesus’ response explains how we you and I can experience the abundant life. Take a look at his response in John 12, verses 44-50:
“Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
Do you see what Jesus does there? He explains more about the idea of judging which he previously mentioned in verse 31 (see post here). When you place verse 31 next to verse 47, it could appear that Jesus is being contradictory. In verse 31 he says that “now is the time for judgment” and in verse 47 he says that “he did not come to judge the world.” Which is it? Is Jesus judging or saving?
He explains this apparent contradiction in verse 48. There is a judge, and that judge will evaluate how people respond to Jesus and his teaching. Jesus came to save, but those who reject Jesus and his teaching will face the judge. The judge he is referring to is God the Father. While that idea of God the Father as judge might make him (God) sound harsh and punitive, Jesus says the mission Jesus has been on all along is the mission the Father sent him on, a mission of making available eternal life to all. Jesus’ teaching is consistent throughout this passage. He is on a mission of salvation so that all people can experience life in his Kingdom. God the Father is not a harsh judge. He wants all people to avoid judgment. In fact, he so desperately wants people to avoid judgment, Jesus lovingly, sacrificially, gives his life to make it possible for us to avoid judgment.
The word “eternal life” evokes images of heaven, something that many people talk about encountering after we die. “Die and go to heaven” is the phrase we so often use. But as we have just read in John 12:12-50, for Jesus, the phrase eternal life is first and foremost rooted in the here and now. We follow Jesus now. We experience life in his Kingdom now. Yes, in him there is promise and hope for life after death, but Jesus’ emphasis is on the here and now. He showed us what it means to invite holy disruption in our lives. We show that our trust in him is genuine by how we invite holy disruption in our lives.
Jesus lived an abundant life. He lived a life of holy disruption. People misunderstood him. Even his disciples. Some people mistreated him, questioned him, crowded him, used him. His life was a life of holy disruption by all sorts of people and situations. This was his regular, daily life.
Then, of course, his invited holy disruption in the ultimate way, physically, giving his life for all people. Through his welcoming of holy disruption into his life, his light grew as more and more people could experience the love and goodness of God in their lives. Holy disruption, therefore, is where the abundant life is found. It will involve sacrifice. It will involve learning, sometimes failing, then trying again.
How are you allowing your life to be disrupted? Lean more into the way of Jesus. In the upside-down way of the Kingdom, the more you invite holy disruption into your life, it will actually bring you and those you interact with more and more of God’s light and life.
Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash