If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. (John 12:47-48)
We know theologically that Jesus Christ was both human and divine. As a human being, he is the prime example of what a sinless person looks like … someone who is completely yielded and obedient to God; someone who is in constant and unbroken connection with God. He was a prophet who was perfectly true, without the influence of the flesh.
Jesus never spoke independently of the Father God. Everything he said was in obedience to a command the Father had given for him to deliver as the Father’s message. The Christ was the perfect example of a servant of God, who does not inject his own personal message, but truly represents God and delivers messages of God.
High fidelity (or hi-fi) sound systems reproduce recorded sound with very high quality, that is to say that it reproduces sound with minimal amounts of noise or distortion. Christ, of course, was a prophet who spoke with perfect fidelity. Everyone who speaks as a representative of the Lord, must strive for high fidelity reproduction of God’s holy word.
Moses, one of the greatest prophets of the Lord, had to be sentenced to death because he interjected his personal anger into a miracle that God commanded him to perform (Numbers 20:11). Moses tainted the purity of God’s message by striking the rock when God hadn’t commanded him to do so. Anyone who speaks on God’s behalf, or teaches in church, is to be like an interpreter. The interpreter is responsible to both the speaker and listeners that they translate what was spoken with high fidelity. If the original meaning is distorted in translation, the interpreter breaches the trust placed in them by the speaker and listener. Failing to stay true to the original meaning and intent of the speaker is a severe ethical failure in legal/courtroom interpretation. Certainly the holy word of the Lord deserves the highest fidelity interpretation possible.
Jesus makes a very interesting statement in John 12:47-48 when He said that he won’t judge people for not obeying his words; the word itself will judge the disobedient. Isn’t the Christ divine? Doesn’t He sit on the throne in heaven? Isn’t He also the Word of God so isn’t Jesus the same as the word He spoke? I believe Jesus was speaking as a human being while on earth. I believe he was speaking as a human prophet should, perfectly yielded to God, in constant connection with Holy Spirit, reproducing with perfect fidelity the messages of God. The Christ did not come to judge the world, but to save it by dying for us on the cross. But while he was on earth in public ministry, he served as the perfect example of a human servant of God.
We, too, are not to judge people. If God gives us His messages to deliver, that doesn’t give us equal standing with God that we should presume we are qualified to judge others by our own wisdom. Even the Christ did not do that. Instead we are to humble ourselves by quieting our own fleshly reactions and yield all lordship over our thoughts and feelings over to Holy Spirit. This internal kneeling before the Lord is the proper posture for God’s prophets, teachers, worship leaders and all servants of God. No one should presume to speak on God’s behalf out of fleshly wisdom. But if God commands us to speak, we should reproduce His word with high fidelity. Our job is always to love our neighbor. But in this case our job will be to love our neighbor and to act as a delivery mechanism for God’s word: a mouthpiece, a speaker cabinet, a hi-fi sound system. By commanding us to speak, God has placed a trust in us to reproduce His word without noise or distortion. We dare not breach that trust by contaminating His holy word with fleshly opinion. If we have truly delivered the word of God, then the word itself will judge people for disobedience. It is never our place to judge.