Scripture: John 12:44-50
44 And Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And he who sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If any one hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me."
Meditation: What kind of darkness does Jesus warn us to avoid? It is the darkness of unbelief and rejection - not only of the Son who came into the world to save it - but rejection of the Father who offers us healing and reconciliation through his Son, Jesus Christ. In Jesus' last public discourse before his death and resurrection (according to John's Gospel), Jesus speaks of himself as the light of the world. In the scriptures light is associated with God's truth and life. Psalm 27 exclaims, The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Just as natural light exposes the darkness and reveals what is hidden, so God's word enables those with eyes of faith to perceive the hidden truths of God's kingdom. Our universe could not exist without light - and no living thing could be sustained without it. Just as natural light produces warmth and energy - enabling seed to sprout and living things to grow - in like manner, God's light and truth enables us to grow in the abundant life which only he can offer us. Jesus' words produce life - the very life of God - within those who receive it with faith.
To see Jesus, the Word of God who became flesh for our sake (John 1), is to see God in visible form. To hear the words of Jesus is to hear the voice of God. He is the very light of God that has power to overcome the darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief. God's light and truth brings healing, pardon, and transformation. This light is not only for the chosen people of Israel, but for the whole world as well. Jesus warns that if we refuse to listen to his word, if we choose to ignore it or to take it very lightly, then we choose to remain in spiritual darkness.
Jesus made it clear that he did not come to condemn us, but rather to bring abundant life and freedom from the oppression of sin, Satan, and a world in opposition to God's truth and goodness. We condemn ourselves when we reject God's word of truth, life, and wisdom. It is one thing to live in ignorance due to lack of knowledge and understanding, but another thing to disdain the very source of truth who is Christ Jesus, the Word of God sent from the Father. Jesus says that his word - which comes from the Father and which produces eternal life in us - will be our judge. Do you believe that God's word has power to set you free from sin and ignorance and to transform your life in his way of holiness?
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) summed up our need for God's help in the following prayer he wrote: "God our Father, we find it difficult to come to you, because our knowledge of you is imperfect. In our ignorance we have imagined you to be our enemy; we have wrongly thought that you take pleasure in punishing our sins; and we have foolishly conceived you to be a tyrant over human life. But since Jesus came among us, he has shown that you are loving, and that our resentment against you was groundless."
God does not wish to leave us in spiritual darkness - in our ignorance and unbelief. He is always ready to give his light, wisdom, and truth to all who seek him and who hunger for his word. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit he helps us to grow each and every day in faith, knowledge, and understanding of his life-giving word. Do you want to know more of God and grow in his transforming love? Look to Jesus, the Light of God, and in his truth you will find joy, freedom, and wholeness of body, mind, heart, and soul.
"Lord Jesus, in your word I find life, truth, and freedom. May I never doubt your word nor forget your commandments. Increase my love for your truth that I may embrace it fully and live according to it."
1May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to
2 that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. [Selah] 5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.
7 God has blessed us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Whoever sees Jesus sees the Father, by Cyril of Alexandria, 375-444 A.D.
"[Our Lord] gradually accustoms their minds to penetrate the
depth of the mysteries concerning himself, [leading them] not to
the human person but to that which was of the divine essence. He
does this inasmuch as the Godhead is apprehended completely in the
person of God the Father, for he has in himself the Son and the
Spirit. With exceeding wisdom he carries them onward, ... for he
does not exclude himself from being believed on by us because he
is God by nature and has shone forth from God the Father. But
skillfully (as has been said) he handles the mind of the weak to
mold them to godliness in order that you might understand him to
say something like this: 'When you believe on me - I who, for your
sakes, am a man like yourselves, but who also am God by reason of
my own nature and because of the Father from whom I exist - do not
suppose that it is on a man you are setting your faith. For I am
by nature God, notwithstanding that I appear like one of
yourselves, and I have within myself him who begat me. Forasmuch
therefore as I am consubstantial with him that has begotten me,
your faith will assuredly pass on also to the Father himself.' As
we said therefore, the Lord, gradually trains them to something
better and profitably interweaves the human with what is
God-befitting." (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL
OF JOHN 8.7)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.
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