Who would you accept as your friend? Who would you open your home up to and take in as one of your own? Just anyone from anywhere? No matter their background or reputation, no matter their history or track record?
We serve a fantastically inclusive God. He stands ready to step into relationship with anyone – absolutely anyone – who respects him and lives accordingly.
Don’t move away from that thought too quickly; let that soak in a bit.
Nothing makes this point plainer than the way Jesus throws “whoever” statements out on the table. They’re found in abundance in all four Gospels, but in John’s Gospel, suddenly they double in number. Clearly, for whatever reason, John bends over backwards to get the message across that “whoever” wants to step into a real relationship with God can do so and the way they can do that is through submitting their life to Jesus.
Today’s reading in the Fresh Bread project is John 10-12. You’ll find nine “whoever” statements in this passage alone, nearly one fourth of all of the “whoever” statements in John’s Gospel. But to more fully appreciate the “whoeverness” of our God, consider the following collection of “whoever” statements from across John’s Gospel, a list which, I might add, is by no means comprehensive. Let the inclusiveness of God wash over you, and at the same time, heed the warnings against choosing to not be one of the “whoever.”
Whoever believes in him isn’t judged; whoever doesn’t believe in him is already judged, because they don’t believe in the name of God’s only Son. (3:18)
Whoever does the truth comes to the light so that it can be seen that their actions were done in God. (3:21)
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever doesn’t believe in the Son won’t see life, but the angry judgment of God remains on them. (3:36)
… whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. (4:14)
Whoever doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent him. I assure you that whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and won’t come under judgment but has passed from death into life. (5:23-24)
Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (6:35)
I assure you, whoever believes has eternal life. (6:47)
Whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. … Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. … Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them. … Whoever eats this bread will live forever. (6:51,54,56,58)
Whoever wants to do God’s will can tell whether my teaching is from God or whether I speak on my own. (7:17)
Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life. (8:12)
I assure you that whoever keeps my word will never die. (8:51)
I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. (10:9)
Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. (11:25)
Whoever serves me must follow me. … My Father will honor whoever serves me. (12:26)
Whoever believes in me doesn’t believe in me but in the one who sent me. Whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. (12:44-45)
Whoever rejects me and doesn’t receive my words will be judged at the last day by the word I have spoken. (12:48)
I assure you that whoever receives someone I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. (13:20)
I assure you that whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. (14:12)
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them. … Whoever loves me will keep my word. … Whoever doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words. (John 14:21,23,24)
Whoever hates me also hates the Father. (15:23)
Whoever accepts the truth listens to my voice. (18:37)
Prayer seems appropriate.
Heavenly Father, all praise be to you for your willingness to share all with your creation! Thank you for including all in your call to your Son’s kingdom. Include me in his kingdom. Deliver me from excluding myself. For I pray in his name. Amen.