[Jesus said:] “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
Jesus makes another audacious statement: "Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life." We will reflect upon a single verse (which I recommend you memorize), and I will show you how to unpack it for better understanding.
Jesus begins with his standard opener, "Very truly I tell you.” Whenever he starts with this, it means we should pay careful heed to what he is about to say. Then Jesus speaks about a condition that needs to be met for a promise to be fulfilled. The condition is this: "Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me will receive something." Then he concludes with the promise. "This person has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life."
Let us break this down further. Jesus first speaks about "hearing his word." Before believing, there's the act of hearing. In a biblical context, hearing is more than just a passive reception of sound. It implies attentiveness, discernment, and a willingness to be transformed.
Then, Jesus tells us to "believe him who sent me." Who is Jesus referring to? He's referring to God the Father and, by extension, the testimony and mission that the Father has entrusted to the Son. What are we supposed to believe about God? Let's unpack this some more.
At its basic level, to believe in God is to affirm the existence and sovereignty of God the Father. He is behind all things and above all things.
Secondly, we need to believe in the Father's testimony about the Son. Throughout John's Gospel, Jesus emphasizes that his words, actions, and very presence are a testimony of the Father. As we will soon hear, Jesus says, "I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me" (John 8:18).
Thirdly, we need to believe in God's redemptive plan. By calling people to believe in "him who sent me," Jesus is inviting us to trust in this divine plan of salvation, a plan that culminates in Jesus' sacrificial death and resurrection. We all know John 3:16.
Fourthly, we need to believe in the unity of the Father and the Son. In John 10:30, Jesus declares, "I and the Father are one." Believing in "him who sent me" means recognizing and affirming this divine unity. To know Jesus is to know the Father (John 14:9).
Finally, we need to believe in God's love. To believe in "him who sent me" is to embrace this love, to trust in its depth, and to allow it to transform one's life.
Let us move to the promise now. Those who hear Jesus' word and believe in what we just spoke about have eternal life, will not be judged, and have crossed over from death to life. Three things.
For the believer, eternity doesn't begin after death; it starts the moment one truly believes. Paul says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Notice how he's using the present tense.
Next, when Jesus says believers "will not be judged," he's emphasizing the security and assurance of salvation for those who place their trust in him and the Father.
And finally, when Jesus speaks about "crossing over from death to life," he means we move from spiritual death and bondage to a life of freedom and communion with God.
Again, let us note that Jesus is speaking about something that happens at the moment, not something that will occur later. However, we must also note that this crossing over is not just a one-time event but a continuous journey, a daily walk in the newness of life (Romans 6:4).
God bless you.