OUR LIGHT IS COMING
John 12:46-48 (Christian Standard Bible).
“I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me would not remain in darkness” (46).
Imagine a world with no light in it. There would only be darkness. Our eyes would be useless. We would all be blind. There could be no such thing as beauty. There would be be no distinction between the fair and the fowl. Everything would “look” the same.
our problem: darkness
One of the ways that the apostle John told the story of Jesus is by bouncing around a few themes throughout his narrative. One of those themes is the contrast between light and darkness.
• He told us that Jesus’ life was humanity’s light (1:4). We were all in darkness until he showed up.
• He also told us that even though Christ was just one man, when his light shown in our darkness, our darkness didn’t overwhelm it (1:5),
• In fact, John told us that when Jesus was born, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world” (1:9).
Before we think about the good news that the Light has come to us, we need to step back and consider the bad news. The bad news for us all is that we needed the true light. In other words, we were all born in darkness.
John picks up on the light and darkness theme again in his chapter 3.
• He told us that although the “light has come into the world, … people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God” (3:19-21).
In chapter 8, John records Jesus own admission that he is the light. Jesus said “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life” (8:12).
But in chapter 9, he points out that the exposure to the light was limited. There Jesus said “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (9:5).
Then, earlier in chapter 12, John recorded Jesus as saying “The light will be with you only a little longer. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. The one who walks in darkness doesn’t know where he’s going. While you have the light, believe in the light so that you may become children of light” (12:35-36).
So, to summarize what John had told us so far, we can say that Jesus has appeared as light for our world briefly, and now he is gone.
What good is that? Well, imagine you have to go into a dark room and do something. Wouldn’t it be a good thing for you to have seen the room with the light on – at least once?
enter a solution: light to save the world
Let’s look again at verses 46-47. There Jesus says “I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me would not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and doesn’t keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”
Jesus says that the purpose for his first advent was to save the world. The words that he gave us during his lifetime on earth were enough to make a difference. But the salvation that he offers is conditional. Everyone who believes in him will not remain in darkness. Oh, but anyone can say that they believe in Jesus. That is why Jesus explains that the true believers are those who hear his words and keep them.
Every year at Christmas we remind people that a Savior has been born in Bethlehem. We should also remind them that he has explained just how he intends to save us. His salvation is tied to our choice to believe and follow his teachings.
the consequences of avoiding the light
People who choose to avoid the words of Jesus are said to “remain in darkness” now (46). It is a terrible thing to remain in that kind of darkness. It is the darkness of sin, of error, of failure, of shame, and impending judgment.
Jesus said that those who do not receive his words and sayings have rejected him (47-48). We each have a personal responsibility to learn everything about Christ and everything he has taught us. We cannot let someone else do that for us. The stakes are too high. Our salvation depends on our proper understanding and acceptance of his words. We need to get the light right.
We need to be saved ourselves or else it will do no good for us to try to save others. Jesus warned against the hypocritical blind guides. We need the light straight from the source.
And one final note, and the reason I am talking about this subject as we celebrate advent. Just like the other advent themes, this one as well has a second advent component. Jesus said that the consequence of truly believing him and following his teachings is “permanent life” (12:50). But the consequences of not doing so is that those who reject his light now will be judged by those words “on the last day” (48).
Our light was with us for a while, and our light is coming back. But only those who live by the light now will enjoy the light and the life he offers forever.