Of course, you’ve heard it as a kid: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Oh please. That’s got to be the biggest lie ever foisted on kids, right up there next to “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” Anyone who’s been a kid knows what a lie it is.
But there’s another sense in which it’s not true besides the obvious way. As far as we know, these are the last words of Jesus made in public before the Passion. In the last appearance of Jesus in John’s Gospel, he gave a final warning to his listeners. Let’s unpack it.
First, we need to understand that Jesus is the full representation of the Father. He was sent personally by the Father to perform a mission. He was the Father’s fully invested ambassador from the God of Israel. As vs. 50 says, he didn’t speak anything on his own accord, but only what the Father told him to say.
So why is this important? Because if you reject Jesus, you’re not just rejecting him, but the Father who sent him. If you believe in Jesus, you’re accepting the authority of the One who sent him. The Father and the Son stand together.
I listen to some talk radio hosts who are practicing Jews. They’re wonderful people, and I’ve learned a lot from them. One of them in particular, Dennis Prager, has taught me a lot from his studies of the Torah. But they’ve rejected Jesus (or Yeshua) as the Messiah, so what can I say? Either they’re correct, or my Savior is.
But now we come to my point about today’s title. Have you ever had words come back to haunt you? Maybe you made a prediction about a sports event, or maybe in a moment of foolishness you spewed words that you later regretted.
There’s a sense in which words will “come back to haunt” people someday in a much worse and permanent way. Not their own words, but someone else’s.
When someone stands before the Throne, and they’re not one of God’s children through faith, they stand condemned. Yes, the Lord Jesus will stand in judgment over them. But in a real sense, the words of Jesus will be the prosecuting attorney. Just like a recorder or a video camera, the Message of Jesus which they heard will be played back for them. It’ll be read into the record: All the times they heard the Good News and rejected it.
Does that apply to someone who’s reading this? If you are, it’s not by chance. I’m a very imperfect messenger, but I have a perfect Message for you. He loves you, and he died for you. Just like he made an appeal to his audience long ago, he’s making an appeal to you right now. And you never know—this might be his final appeal to you as well. Don’t let it be entered someday in exhibit A. Read this please.
Lord Jesus, I know that I’m saved by your grace. But sometimes you words come back to haunt me too. May your words not fall on deaf ears or on a hardened heart, but on ears and heart ready to receive what you have to say.