The concept of Jesus coming to “save the world” is familiar to the church, but when Jesus came to the Jews in the first century many of the Jewish sects had developed quite a different view of the Messiah’s criteria for salvation.
“The peoples of the earth…will be dragged into the Valley of Hinnom....Only Israel will remain in the time-to-come.” – Midrash Ps. 2:14
The Essenes at Qumran taught that only they would be saved and the world would perish. Most
cults and various mystery religions believe that only their group, church or followers will be saved. John makes it clear that the whole world can be saved through faith in Jesus. It is not only for a particular church, the Jewish nation, a sect of Judaism or a cult. Anyone who believes in Jesus
will be saved.
John stresses that God’s purpose is not judgment, but salvation. Yet, those who refused the
salvation would be like the shadows created by light. The purpose of light is not to create shadows, but yet, the creation of shadows is inevitable once the light starts to shine. So it was with the
coming of Jesus and the offer of salvation. The purpose was to save the world, but those who remained outside of salvation would remain in a state of condemnation. Without Jesus all men
are condemned, just as all is in darkness without light. The coming of Jesus brought salvation,
but if a person remained outside of Jesus they would remain in a state of condemnation just as an area of the room remains in darkness if it does not receive the light.
How can Jesus be the savior if he himself said in John 9:30 that he would be the judge of the
world? This paradox is resolved by realizing that the natural result of a rescue crew being dispatched is the saving of the victim. If the rescue is rejected, then disaster will overtake the
victim. The offer of salvation indicates there is a need for deliverance. If this deliverance is rejected, condemnation and judgment are the inevitable outcome. The reason salvation is offered is because man is already condemned. The rescue crew does not engage in a rescue mission if
there is no one in need of rescue. The simple fact that the rescue crew has been dispatched
indicates there is risk of casualty, injury or loss if the offer of rescue is not received.
The offer of salvation itself implies the alternative, which is judgment.