“He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” John 12:48
If Jesus intended that we should treat His words in a non-literal manner then the verse above, and its context (vv 42-50), would be nonsense. Since Jesus makes it clear that people will be judged according to the word He has spoken it should be evident that a correct understanding of His word is imperative. The only way that is possible is to take His word in the usual literal and grammatical sense. The context itself will determine what kind of literature we are reading, whether it be theology, history, poetry, allegory or a parable, and give us the guide as to how we should understand the passage.
Since it is evident throughout the Bible that God intends for us to correctly understand what He has said and had recorded for us, Jesus’ words in the above verse then make sense. How could we know truth if we interpret the Bible to our ideas of what is possible or true?
Jesus affirms that the words He has spoken come with the authority of the Father (vv 49, 50). The same is true of the whole Bible (2 Timothy 3:16) so we would be wise to ensure we take God at His word throughout. It will be a sad day when the multitudes that have been deceived and not taken Jesus at His word, are judged by His word. They will be among those who cry out, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied (taught) in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in your name?” And then Jesus will say to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me.” (Matthew 7:22, 23).
It has always pleased God to let those who do take Him at His word to know something of the days ahead. Only those who treat His word literally will discover the truth and find comfort in it. Matthew records three occasions when Jesus clearly warned His disciples that He would die and rise again. Had they received His word they would have been comforted when Jesus was crucified because they would have known that He would rise again. Instead they ran away in fear and Peter denied he even knew Jesus. John records Jesus addressing this in John 14. In that chapter Jesus gives two reasons for telling them of future events; so they will not worry or be afraid (vv 1, 27) and so they would believe He would rise (v 29). It is evident that He intended that they receive His words literally.
Our world is about to endure the most horrendous period in all its existence and God has warned His people of what is to come. Those who take God at His word will be comforted and assured as these things approach but those who do not will be just like the disciples when Jesus was crucified. They will be anything but comforted.
The Lord revealed to Abraham the awful judgment that was about to come on Sodom and Gomorrah (James 2:23). He has also revealed the awful judgment that is going to come upon the world to us if we will take His word literally. “I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe” (John 14:29; see also 15:15).