“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Jesus spoke a lot about light. The book of John begins by calling Jesus the Light of the World that the darkness could not overcome, or comprehend.
Jesus told the disciples to walk while the light was with them (alluding to himself) so they would not stumble.
Light is really important. The lighthouse saved ships from running aground on rocky shores that might not be visible at night. We all know those times when we don’t turn on the light because we’re just crossing the room to … yeah, and that doesn’t work out well every time we do that.
When you stop to think about the statement Jesus made, though, it is truly remarkable. He didn’t claim to be a light. Rather, He was the light. He wasn’t the light of some people. He was the light of the world!
Going deeper, Jesus was calling to mind things that these Jewish Israelites would know from their scrolls and religion: The wilderness wanderings of the Hebrews.
He claimed to be the “bread of life,” referencing the manna. He claimed to be the source of “living water,” calling to mind the stone which Moses struck and from which water poured out for their needs.
Here, Jesus declares that he’s the light of the world that leads the way God wants us to go. This points back to the pillar of cloud and fire that led the people through the wilderness toward the promised land. That mystical cloud that shone brightly with God’s divine light, similar to the flame that illumined, but did not consume the bush, would move, and the people would follow. It would stay, and the people remained. It led in paths that didn’t appear to make sense. It remained when maybe other places might be more appealing. But it directed them in the way of the Lord.
Jesus claimed that role, the light unto our path. Where He leads, we must follow. Where he stops, we must stay. We must walk with Him, or we’re liable to stumble, as we do when we lean on our own understanding.
“Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
The scene was artistically portrayed in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. A woman dragged before the Lord, caught in the very act of adultery! Jesus’ hands reach down, tearing through the dusty soil, writing something on the ground. Slowly, feet stamp away, leaving only Jesus and the woman.
It is the condition in which many might find themselves: Remorseful, humiliated, caught in the act! Alone with Jesus on a dusty path. Then, we get a view of our Savior’s heart. He delights in pardoning sin and passing over our transgressions for his children (Micah 7:18).
It isn’t, as some might interpret, an unjust pardoning where God looks the other way at some sin (like adultery) while being severe toward another form of sin (pious arrogance of the religious elite).
Rather, Jesus is deeply concerned with the woman, far more than the crowd had been in their self-righteous zeal.
The crowd was jeering and demanding blood in their own concept of justice. Instead of Jesus weighting one sin over the other, it was the accusers who falsify the scales of sin, deeming adultery to be worse than, say, pride.
Instead, Jesus sees the condition of the sinner as a lost sheep, wandering away from the love of God, and weeps.
What he wrote in the sand is the topic of much speculation. Maybe it was the various commandments that they had broken? No one knows because scripture doesn’t tell us.
Perhaps that’s the point: Jesus doesn’t divulge the sins of others to us when defending against our accusers. Those of the Religious Order delight in exposing other people’s dirty deeds. But our Lord loves, concealing the matter, then paying for it Himself.
It is this kindness, this unfathomable love that draws Christ’s sheep to Him. We love Him because He first loved us. We chose Him, because He chose us! One might say, the woman’s very public sin actually brought her to Jesus, demonstrating how God will use the very evil in this world to bend to His sovereign purpose.
If Jesus did write the sins of the Pharisees in the sand, they did not notice His gentleness, or accept His forgiveness in the sacrifice that only He could provide. If He showed them this mercy in writing out something that should be a call to repentance, humbly employing his finger in the dirt rather than in their faces, they spurned his grace.
Would you enter the Kingdom of God, the mysterious status of being clothed in Christ’s righteousness and being at once in the presence of God the Father as well as living in this earthly realm with the Spirit of Christ within you?
Then you must enter through the gate of poverty in spirit, having nothing to bring, being accused for your sin, but knowing there is no excuse. You were caught in the very act!
You must mourn for your sinfulness and for the lostness of this fallen creation.
You must be meek, falling at your Savior’s feet.
You must receive His peace that comes at great cost to Himself.
There is no condemnation for those who are found in Christ. There will be no one to accuse you because your sinful rebellion, along with every sin that poured forth from that foul fountain has been cleansed.
“Go, and sin no more…”
When we accept Jesus’ forgiveness, bought by His sacrifice, we can count on His strength to leave our sinful lifestyle behind us. We will struggle with the desires of the flesh, but we will no longer bear the mark of one caught in the very act.
“You cannot stop the dry-rot by grand alliances. Nothing can save a nation in whose heart the worst forms of corruption are being nourished, except a wholesale return of God and a seeking of His face. It is certain that if this lesson were profoundly learned and then practiced, the horrors of a world in arms would come to a speedy and a blessed end.” -F.B. Meyer
Everyone talks of wanting Peace On Earth … yada, yada, yada… Meanwhile, the wholesale rebellion against God continues as atheists and CINOS (Christians In Name Only) sell themselves to the worldly culture of Self (not the magazine).
Jesus’ arrival to earth was predicted in prophesy and expected by the people of Israel. Their once great nation with its grand Temple and the royal line of David had been decimated over the years. They had their monarchy split between Israel and Judah, they had their nation hauled off in captivity by Babylon. They had their Temple destroyed and ransacked. Then they had re-built it and restored their national identity only to have it invaded and occupied by the iron fist of Rome. Continue reading The Darkest Night of the Year→
John 5:16-17 “For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”
Sunday is a day of rest! Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby and perhaps other less high-profile Christian-owned businesses are not opened on Sunday. In the not-too-distant past, American businesses at large were not opened on Sunday in observance of the “new” sabbath of Christ’s resurrection.
*the old Sabbath was Saturday, the 7th day of the week. This is still observed by traditional Jewish and Messianic Jewish religions.
Where I live, alcohol of high percentage cannot be sold on Sunday, meaning those who wish to imbibe must make provision for that want on the Jewish Sabbath or before.
When I was young, my family tried the approach that no work, no play clothes, should be done or worn on Sunday.
All of this is very consistent with the religious nature that is in all humans! The Pharisees and the devout in Israel during Jesus day took careful note of who was working on the Sabbath (Saturday, for them).
So, it’s very interesting to see that Jesus healed many people on the Sabbath.
The verse in John 5 underscores this. They persecuted Jesus because he healed on the Sabbath. Verse 18 goes on to say they sought to kill him because, in addition to doing work on the Sabbath, He claimed equality with God (by what he said in verse 17).
So, what’s the importance of Jesus working on the Sabbath? What did He mean when He said, “My Father is working until now, and I myself am working?”
It is entirely possible, and extremely likely, that we misunderstand what the Sabbath is.
The first “sabbath” was on the 7th day of Creation. It is not important to argue the literal 24 hour days of Creation week, or theorize whether God needed to rest. God doesn’t grow weary, He’s God. The act of Creation didn’t drain Him. The Rest Day was His way of telling us something. But, we often misinterpret things and boil them to the simplest, and often most ridiculous thing.
God “rested” when His Creation was complete. He took Creation from darkness to a full, thriving creation with mankind as His image-bearers presiding over all He’d made. Man-Adam was perfect and in authority over the lower creatures and ecosystems that God had made.
The work of sustaining the cosmos, however, never stopped. So, God was still working, spinning the planets in orbit, creating new stars, active in each molecule and atom that holds our reality together.
The Fall, Adam’s choice to rebel against God to be one with his bride, stripped the world of this state of rest. Suddenly, all of Creation groaned with pain, thorns and futility, striving to keep the perfection it had, but failing to meet the demands of God’s design.
In the Fallen world, there is no rest, only vain toil.
Immediately, God gave a promise of His Son who would crush the serpent, the symbol of evil and the tempter who introduced rebellion to our race, and would satisfy the justice of God by bearing the penalty for our sin.
In the Law, God gave the people of Israel this idea of the Sabbath rest. not only on the 7th day, in recognition of God’s completed work which required no additional act of creation, but pointing to something else! There was also the 7th year of rest where they’d not plant crops and let the land rest.
Jewish people seldom kept these Sabbath rituals, working on their own for their increased profit.
Our mistake, however, is to see this as God being concerned that His people simply follow some religious rule.
God’s not interested in us following a list of rules. He wants our hearts!
The recognition of the Sabbath rest was to point, once more to God’s completed work, not our efforts on our own behalf.
The Pharisees observed the Sabbath, but had hearts that were thinking that their religious acts were saving their souls! They were the most pious, most religious people you could imagine. They prayed out loud in the streets. They let everyone know they were fasting. They gave money to the Temple instead of their aging parents (look how they loved God!).
And they expected that all these “righteous” acts proved their salvation as God’s special people.
They were so exclusive in their works-related religious salvation that they persecuted Jesus for performing miraculous healing on the Sabbath.
Jesus performed those deeds because, as He said, His Father is working … and He is working. The work of mending this broken world is always happening. All things are held together by God. Each sunrise, each breath of every person on this planet is ordained and maintained by God. Even the wicked mass murderer is alive at the will of God and will ultimately serve His purpose and will glorify Him (either in judgment in Hell or in repentance and new life).
So, what does the Sabbath really mean? What is the true Sabbath?
The Sabbath always pointed to God’s completed work. First in Creation, second in the New Creation, Salvation.
When Jesus took on Sin outside the camp of the world, bore the full wrath of God and died, was buried, he performed the full “week” of work required for the New Creation to which all humanity is called. With His resurrection, He has declared the New Creation, the New Man, very good. With the ascension, He has brought us, physical humans, back into direct fellowship with God, in Heaven.
The state of Creation before the Fall has been restored in Christ. The work of God is complete.
But there is still work that goes on all the time. The work of sanctification, bringing us along the path of taking off the works of death that are no longer compatible with our new natures, continues 24/7. In other words, the work of Jesus healing us is not stopped by the Sabbath.
Our “works” for acceptance with God must stop! That’s the point of the Sabbath, to remind us that we cannot work for our salvation. We need to accept Jesus’ completed work and enter the rest that no additional work is needed to secure us with God.
Then we need to let Jesus continue to work His healing every day.