The Life-giving Authority of Jesus
Jesus always tells the truth. But when John reports Jesus saying, "I tell you the truth", it is the linguistic equivalent of bold type or underlining - a saying that is vitally important. His religious listeners had believed that it was impossible to have eternal life without believing and obeying God's Word. Then Jesus made His announcement, "... whoever hears my Word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, he has crossed over from death to life!" Jesus claimed to be the life-giver: it was a claim of being equal with God.
Jesus also describes His role as Judge, another of God's functions. Those who believe in Him immediately cross over from the dock (the place of the accused) to the witness stand (the place to testify to being saved). Those who do not accept Jesus' words are condemned, but those who believe in Jesus are saved. Nobody will be able to complain that God has acted unfairly, not knowing what it is like to live in this sinful world, because Jesus (who is also the Son of Man) has lived here and suffered the worst of its cruelty.
These words of Jesus are indeed vitally important. Those who trust them are saved; and those who do not, remain condemned for ever. These truths are an essential part of the gospel. The reason they are written is that we should be in no doubt that Jesus is Divine, and that He has the authority to judge all people and to give eternal life to everybody who accepts what He says (John 20:30-31). So Jesus cannot be one of many religious authorities, or simply a wise teacher or good example, because only God has the right to judge and give eternal life. The responsibility of the church (all of us who believe in Jesus as Saviour and Lord) is to give others the opportunity to hear this gospel, so that they too may be saved. Our testimony starts when we are willing to tell what the Lord has done for us. Pray for that willingness, and He will provide the opportunity.
© Dr Paul Adams