Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.” (John 12:44–50(
Jesus made clear that his purpose as the Messiah was to save the world, rather than to judge it. This contrasted sharply with the expectations of the religious establishment and most of the people of Israel, including even Jesus’ disciples. They believed that the Messiah had come to set the world right by destroying the wicked. Indeed, the wicked can be destroyed by killing them, but Jesus intended to set the world right not by killing, but by transforming the wicked through the power of God’s forgiveness and redemption.
Judgment falls on people, not so much because Jesus is mad at them, but simply as a consequence of their rejection of the help that Jesus offers them. Like a man who drowned because he refused to wear his life jacket, so people are judged simply as a result of their own poor choices. God does not have to reach out and strike the unbeliever, the unbeliever walks into the pit of Hell all on his own, refusing to turn away from his impending doom despite all the pleading and every attempt that Jesus makes to convince him to turn around and go a different way.
Jesus words—his words of love and hope—can lead us away from impending doom. His voice calls out to us when we are on the wrong path, instructing us to take a different way and then telling us the route we should take and how to get to it. We can walk toward God’s kingdom instead of away from it.