I hope that all of you have enjoyed Christmas with your family and friends! As we approach a new year and reflect on the past moments of 2021, I want you to consider that Jesus is our Light.
Introductory Thoughts: Important Motiff and Imagery John 8:12
The apostle John in his Gospel of John, epistles, and Revelations frequently uses contrasting terms to present Jesus and the world. Two of the most obvious when reading through John’s writings are the concepts of darkness and light. As I wrote in my previous blog, John introduces Jesus in Chapter 1:4 as the “Light of Men.” Light in the Gospel of John represents goodness, truth, and God’s presence.
Interestingly, the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages emphasized light with massive windows and structural design(s) to allow maximum possible light.
John in verse 9 identifies Christ as “the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” John wants us to understand that Jesus is God and that He enables us (enlightenment) to properly understand God the Father. Remember from last week’s blog that one of the main reasons for Jesus being born (Incarnation) was to reveal God the Father’s character and purpose for humanity.
Jesus reveals Himself as the Light of the world again in Chapter 8. This occurs after He writes in the sand as the Pharisees (representing religion and law) are ready to stone the adulterous woman. Jesus is the Light and gives us light to walk. What Jesus is saying is that He and His Life reveals the true path to God. The religious and spiritual laws don’t lead to God, but as Paul argues in Romans reveals our powerlessness to live God’s standard. God establishes His Law (Mosiac Laws/ Dueteronomy) to show us that we need something greater than ourselves or rules. A proper understanding of God’s Law leads one to understood the folly of self-righteousness. Jesus emphasizes this point when He talks about thoughts being as bad as the action (lust,murder).
Our good deeds and obedience can’t save us! This is the difference between religion and relationship. Religion gives us rules and we obey perfectly (impossible for sinners) to be righteous. Relationship with Christ depends on His grace, truth, and life to work in us to make us righteous before God. We all have a choice: we can fool ourselves into thinking that we can be righteous through ourselves or trust that Jesus can make us righteous (Substitutionary Atonement). For a description/definition and verses for this critical concept
Jesus Speaks to Grieving Martha John 11:25
John records Jesus’ reaction to Lazarus’ illness and death. One needs to remember that Lazarus was a close friend of Jesus. Jesus deeply loved him and his sisters Mary and Martha. Jesus allows Lazarus to die when He could have healed Him instantly. This thought is in Martha’s mind verses 21-22. As she grieves her loss, Jesus points her toward a much greater truth. Jesus reveals Himself to be “the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha indicates that she does. Imagine how difficult this statement would be to hear! Lazarus believed in Christ yet he had already died! This seems contradictory from a human stand point!
Like many of God’s great truths: we can easily miss the meaning of what has happened. Jesus later restores Lazarus back to life, but he had died and would die again later in life. So what did Jesus really mean? For a detailed study on this:
Jesus is telling us that He is life and that He as a Person of the Trinity is the Resurrection. We tend (like the 1st century believers) to see the Resurrection as a future event, but it’s actually a Person and a relationship with Him!
The world and sin are darkness and Christ is the Light! Just as we face physically death, we also face the death of our dreams and hopes as well. Are you trusting Jesus to be the Light to guide and renew your walk with Him?
I enjoy studying theology and philosophy. While theology is about God, it can become more of an intellectual study and thought experiment than personal experience. Information and knowledge aren’t wisdom. Wisdom comes through relationship and experience. As an example, as we can know all the statistical facts about a favorite athlete or historical person yet not personally know him or her.
Jesus is a Person and by accepting His grace and truth, I can be in a Personal Relationship with Him! It’s through the relationship and trust/dependence that Light and Life flows into our lives.
As you reflect on the joys and sorrows you have experienced this past year, may God’s Perfect Son-Jesus enlighten you to perceive His mercy and presence!
Future blogs will explore broken dreams and how that God changes us through the process of grief and renewal. Consider your life through the Light of His Presence! Remember that Jesus is gentle in heart, patient, and kind! He will walk with you through the dark moments just as He does with Martha and Lazarus! Invite Him into your difficulties and sadness! May He bless and enlighten you as He works in your life!
For Christ’s glory and to encourage fellow pilgrims, I write these words