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Monday, April 11, 2016

The Verdict – John 3

    We left off last week learning that it was God’s love for humanity that sent Jesus to earth to die for the sins of the whole world. Jesus became the serpent on the pole in the Older Testament by becoming sin for us and saving us from eternal death. Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, then to lay down his life for his friends.” The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 3:16, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
            Next Jesus tells Nicodemus why mankind rejects Him.

The Verdict – John 3:19-23

    “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly what he has done has been done through God.”
            The Light of the world came into the world, but humanity will love the world and its evil ways more than the Light of Truth -- Jesus. Darkness cannot understand the Light. Jesus said, “You are going to have the Light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the Light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the Light while you have it, so that you may become sons of the Light." John 12:35-36 Our openness to God’s Light will affect our ability to see and understand Truth. The Light of Jesus, His Word and His Holy Spirit will make order out of our dark, chaotic lives and breathe the Holy Spirit and the Light of Truth (Jesus) into us. Those who walk with Jesus will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.  
            The Light (Jesus) of the world is alive, just as the Word is alive in Christ. Jesus who is also the Creator with God and the Holy Spirit triumphs over darkness.  Jesus is the Truth and the illuminator of Truth with the Holy Spirit. He is the Living Anointed Word. When Jesus left this earth to return to His Heavenly Father, He sent the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth – to teach us. If we want to know the Truth, we must come to the One who is the Truth. The Holy Spirit will continually draw us to the Light and the Truth – Jesus.
     Evil-doers do not want to see themselves. Evil does not like to be exposed through Light. Satan and his demons work in darkness. They love the concealing darkness and want to remain hidden. The darkness is against the Light, but it cannot put the Light out because Jesus is the Eternal Light of the world. Satan has tried to extinguish the Light from the beginning. It is a futile effort on Satan’s part because Jesus and His Light is greater than any devil. Light will always drive out darkness. As long as there is Light, darkness can never win! The Light of Jesus came into the world to eliminate the darkness by defeating Satan. The power of Jesus is undefeatable. It is only by the removal of Light that the darkness can advance. So, as long as we have the Light of Jesus in us, His Light will prevail. Every human must choose which side of this spiritual battle he or she will join.
     Those who do sinful, evil deeds don’t like the Light because it will expose them. The Light exposes everything making us naked before God. “He who does the truth comes to the Light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that have been done in God.” These have nothing to hide. They will be transparent before God and man.
     The Light is a revealing light. It is also a guiding Light. Those who are in darkness don’t know where they are going, but those who have the Light of Jesus and His Word are guided into the right way. (see John 12:46) God’s Word is like stepping stones that will lead us to the Light of Jesus and the goodness of God and His purity. The Word/Jesus is a “light-bearer” who wants to dispel the darkness of sin and evil from our lives. “For in You is the fountain of life; in Your Light, we see light.” Psalm 36:9
     Satan finds pleasure in sin, immorality, destruction, idolatry and disobedience to God. God, on the other hand, is pleased with those who love and obey His Word, will and ways. God showed us this when He announced that Jesus was “His Beloved Son in whom He was well-pleased.” He was well-pleased with Jesus because Jesus only did what the Father told Him to do and only spoke what the Father told Him to speak. Those willing to do God’s will please the Father. Those who willingly obey God and His Word do not fear the Light. They embrace it.  

Separation of Light and Darkness in the Beginning

In the beginning at creation, the Godhead separated the light from the darkness. In Christ, God is still separating the Light from the darkness within each believer in Christ. In the end, there will be no more darkness and the Light of Jesus will be the Light of the new heavens and new earth. God’s ways don’t change.
     In the beginning before creation, the Word brought Light and then Life. This Word, Light and Life is Jesus who was with God in the beginning along with the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, the Word, Light and Life (Jesus) took on the flesh of man to save the world and to reveal God in fullness. In the Older Testament, God set apart a people who were to be the light of the world. God began revealing Himself to the Jews but not fully. Without Jesus, the Truth cannot be fully known. The Jews fulfilled their calling to be a light to the world in many ways, but not perfectly. Only the Perfect Man who was also Perfect God could fulfill this call completely. God sent the True, Perfect and Eternal Light and Eternal Truth into the world in Jesus Christ to fulfill God’s call that His people are to be the light of the world. Those of us who love and follow Jesus are to be the light of the whole world with Jesus as our Head whether Jew or Gentile.

Pillar of Cloud and Fire

To illustrate that God’s ways don’t change, way back in Exodus 14:20, the pillar of cloud and fire separated the armies of Egypt (Israel’s enemies) from God’s people. To the Egyptians the cloud brought confusion and darkness, but to the Israelites it brought Light and protection. This “natural” event spoke a “supernatural” truth that would be revealed in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. For You will Light my lamp; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. Psalm 18:28 The “natural” speaks to the “supernatural.” (see 1 Corinthians 15:46) As the Israelites were traveling through the wilderness, the pillar of cloud (representing God’s glory) led God’s people during the day, and the fire gave them light in the darkness. Jesus, the glory of God and the Light of the world -- came into the world when it was in spiritual darkness to bring the Light of Truth in fullness to people.
Jesus is the Light of which every other light in scripture is a copy – 7-branched lamp in the tabernacle and temple; the pillar of cloud and fire; the light in the broken jars of Gideon that caused the enemy to scatter and flee.

Law and the Prophets

Jesus quoted Isaiah 9:1-2 in Matthew 4:12-16 to show that He is the fulfillment of that Older Testament scripture.  In this scripture, Isaiah prophesied of the Child that would be born who would hold the government of God’s Kingdom on His shoulders. Isaiah also said that the people walking in darkness would see a great Light. Isaiah said that there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future He will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea along the Jordan. V1 Jesus when quoting Isaiah was in Galilee and then left for Capernaum which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali – to fulfill what was said through the prophet of Isaiah –  Jesus said, “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:15-16 Jesus is that Great Light.

Conversion of Paul

Paul saw “a Light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions.”  Paul and his companions fell to the ground. Christ, as the Light, revealed Himself to Saul/Paul so he could be a witness to the Light -- Jesus. This was not the full Light and glory of Jesus that Paul was seeing, but still it was bright enough that he fell to the ground before it. Our natural eyes could not look at the fullness of Jesus’ light and glory in our earthly eyes. We would be blinded and put to death by its power and brilliance.
    Jesus said to Paul, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”  Jesus wanted Paul to testify of the Light of Jesus to both the Jews and the Gentiles. Jesus wants Paul to open the eyes of the Jews and Gentiles to the Truth of Jesus and the Light of the world. Jesus wants Paul to turn those in darkness ruled by Satan to God. Jesus also wants Paul to tell them that they can receive forgiveness of sin through faith in Him and His sacrificial death on the cross.

Body of Christ is Now the Light of the World

            Because Jesus is the Light of the world, those who love, follow and abide in Him are His Body and are to be His light to the world.  Christ’s Body is made up of believers of all nations, including the Jews.
     Unbelievers need to see the Light of Christ in believers so they too might come to Him for salvation and enlightenment. The Light of Jesus will strip us of our masks and the secrets of our souls. The more of the darkness of sin we allow Him to remove in us, the more brightly His Light shines from us.  As in Him we see light, unbelievers will see His Light in us as we walk in His ways to the glory of His Name.

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