This is where we ditch the myth of propositional truth once and for all. Despite John using his simple Greek grammar to express it, what Jesus offers here is a quintessential Hebrew mystical statement. It is a paradox, for God said repeatedly that the fallen world could not bear His divine Presence, yet here Jesus says that He is divine.
It is simply not possible to miss the point: Jesus claims to be God in human form. He attacks the doubts of those around Him from different angles. The word translated in English as “believe” refers to giving someone full credit, to regard their assertions as trustworthy. Whoever embraces the teachings of Jesus is not just embracing Him, but the Creator who sent Him.
John refers to “seeing” Jesus in the sense of grasping and discerning. Insofar as anyone understands what Jesus represents, they have seen the God who sent Him. Whatever you can make of this man, so much can you understand God, as well. If He’s just a man, then God is not holy in your heart. But if you have peace with God, you’ll be drawn to this man who claims to come from God. God is just as much a person as Jesus, and the only way you will truly know God is to know Him as a Person. It’s that same kind of knowing, of getting acquainted with a living being with all the challenges and variations inherent in such a relationship.
Jesus is the light of revelation. If you don’t get Jesus, you don’t get God. If you get Jesus, then the moral darkness of the Fall is not your home. Our fallen state is meant to be a passing phase of existence on the way to Eternity. Without the light of divine revelation, you cannot find your way back to Eden.
Jesus didn’t come to force revelation into our souls. We have to recognize it for what it is and receive it. The truth has to live in us first, or the words mean nothing. So rejecting His teaching does no harm to Jesus. He didn’t come to enforce revelation’s demands on anyone. John was careful to use different terms here that don’t translate well into English. The “words” of Jesus were rhema — a live spectator experience of words spoken. The implication is that you have heard them yourself. The “word” that judges is logos, meaning in this context the full teaching of Jesus. When this world ends and we all face Eternity, we will be judged against that teaching.
The reason His teaching is the standard is simple: Jesus has spoken only what the Father commanded Him to say. Jesus had been a faithful son, executing His father’s commission. That commission breathes eternal life itself. It calls to us; if we follow Jesus’ teaching, we are following the Father. John chooses a unique term translated “everlasting” here: The emphasis is on having neither beginning nor end. Instead of pointing off into the distant future, it represents something with neither past nor future, but an independent existence outside of time itself.
This is what the Father sent, and what Jesus shared. Jesus was that Word Himself.