“Truly, truly, I say to you, whosoever hears my word and believes in him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” –v. 24
Jesus responds to the religious leaders when they judge Him for healing on the Sabbath. Their approach to life is to follow a list of rules to avoid God’s anger. To avoid His judgement. The only problem is that they, like all people, stand under His judgement already. No list of rules ever kept anyone from failing to live up to God’s standards.
That is the irony of legalism. We take God’s commands to holiness and make them at once too demanding and too petty. We create new laws that attempt to keep people from sinning, but only deal with superficial issues. We aim at the heart, but only influence behavior.
Wait, there is another problem for the religious leaders here. They are overstepping their bounds. They stand in judgement—a position only God can occupy—and ironically aim that judgement at the only man—the Son of God—God has given the right to judge.
And what Jesus tells these legalistic, morally proud, judgmental leaders, is a wonderful, good, news. Our sin problem is not solved changing behavior. That doesn’t cut it. The good can never outweigh the bad. Our sin problem is no problem for God. And anyone who hears the message of Christ and trusts in the God who sent Him can have their problem wiped away!