Letters to the Prison - Week 145

Hello, friends!  We’re taking a long tour through John 12.  Last week, we saw this:
  • So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”-John 12:34

The crowd clearly recognizes that Jesus is claiming to be the Christ… and that he identifies himself as the “Son of Man.”  They also understand the immediate implication of what Jesus means when he says that he will be “lifted up” –he’s going to die by being crucified.  So, it’s not like Jesus is speaking riddles or that his claims are ambiguous.  He’s speaking very plainly to them.  The problem is, the crowd doesn’t think that his claim to be the Christ --the Messiah-- squares with his own prediction that he will soon die because the Messiah isn’t supposed to die, according to the Scriptures –or, so the crowd thinks.  So, they misunderstand the Scriptures.

Now, we could spend a substantial amount of time considering where the crowd went wrong in their understanding about the Old Testament predictions about Jesus the Messiah… which verses they might have been thinking of or which misinterpretation led them astray…  but that’s not how Jesus reacts.  Like nearly every other question Jesus responds to, his answer goes straight to the greater concern of the questioner’s heart:
  • So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”-John 12:35-36

The issue will become very apparent as we study the verses that follow.  For now, it’s enough to say that the main concern that Jesus is addressing here is one of belief.  Jesus skips past the hair-splitting about the Scriptures and goes straight to the heart of the matter:  Belief in him.

More important for the sake of our present discussion is what this says about Jesus and us:  First, Jesus clearly claims once again to be the light of the world.  This is not new (John 8:12 and 9:5).  Second, there is clearly a “temporary” aspect to Jesus’ presence.  He’s only around for a “little while longer.”  He’s instructing the crowd to believe in him while they can.  This is not to say that the door of salvation will close with his death on the cross.  On the contrary, Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross will forever open the door to the Kingdom of God for those who would enter through it.  
No, the issue isn’t with any sort of temporary aspect to Jesus’ presence on earth.  The problem is on our end:  It is up to us to believe, and we only have a limited amount of time.  Jesus, knowing this, is encouraging his hearers –and us—to lay aside the questions we might be using as excuses to not believe and place our faith and trust in him –and follow him.

Friends, we encourage you to consider this:  For those who do not believe, there isn’t enough evidence in world to convince them.  For those who do believe, the evidence is everywhere.  What’s the difference?  Faith.  It recognizes that, while we might not ever have all the answers to all our questions, we can still place our hope and trust in the One who does have all the answers:  Jesus the Christ, the Son of God.  Those who do this become, according to Jesus, “sons of light.”  It is our greatest hope that you and those around you would do precisely that… believe in Jesus.    

Dean A. 

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