I’ve heard it said that people who haven’t heard the Gospel will be judged less severely than those who hear and reject it. I’ve even heard it said people who never hear about Jesus will get a free pass. And often, the people who believe that will use 12:48 as the basis for their belief. But is that what Jesus was saying here?
We need to ask ourselves about whom Jesus is speaking – and to whom he is saying it. Is He referring to saved and unsaved people? If you go back to verse 41 and read this whole section, you’ll see He is referring to believers. He’s talking about servants, managers, which begs the question – whose servants are they and whose property do they manage?
This message is for His disciples, those who have been given much!
We who are believers, students, servants of God, will be accountable for more when He returns. The longer I walk with Him, the sweeter the walk, and the more responsibility I have as His child.
You don’t hold a first grader accountable for passing a twelfth grade exit exam, and you don’t reward a twelfth grader for knowing only what a first grader knows. And, yes, God punishes both for not knowing what they are given at their level of understanding.
So don’t use this verse as an excuse for not supporting missions or evangelistic efforts, thinking people would be better off if they never hear about Jesus. The truth is, Jesus is still the only way to the Father.
And you will be held accountable for what you do about that with the knowledge you have received. If you are a believer and have dealt with your own sin at the foot of the cross, you’ve already been given much!