Reader: “Put your trust in the light”
Response: “while there is still time.”
Scripture: John 12:36-43
“Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.”
After saying these things, Jesus went away and was hidden from them.
But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted:
“Lord, who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?”
But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said,
“The Lord has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts—
so that their eyes cannot see,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and have me heal them.”
Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory. Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
What is it about human beings that makes us so stubborn? God called the Israelites, his chosen people, “stiff-necked.” In one of the times I heard him speak, Dr. Walter Kaiser, a marvelous Old Testament scholar, commented something like, “Whenever you read about the stubbornness and stupidity of the Israelites, think of yourself! You are them!” I have to agree. Jesus’ words here are that we are to trust the light while there is still time. It surely applied then as the people were in his presence, but it also applies to now.
Jesus had done miraculous things while the people stood and watched it happen! (Think of several of the episodes of “The Chosen.” ―check out on YouTube if you haven’t) The purpose of the miracles is to establish the identity of God’s Son, that people might recognize the Light of the world. Some believed and some were stubborn and hardened their hearts. As a result, the Son “set” and the Light was gone. The time of the light had passed. It is dangerous to reject the truth of the light when it is present. We are inclined to think that the Son won’t “set” and that there will always be a second or third chance to respond to the Lord. After all, we live in the world of “do-overs,” as anyone knows who has ever played a board game with a four year old!
Then there were those silent, pusillanimous (learned a new word!), timid people who did respond, even some of the Jewish leaders believed, but they didn’t want anyone to know because they did not want to lose their social and religious status. How silent of a follower of Christ are you? Though the time is long past by now, I’m remembering how very vocal some Christians were during the election cycle on expressing their political points of view, oftentimes with a fair amount of omniscience! I had to wonder during those days, if their zeal for the gospel was as heartfelt as their political persuasion. We are to live for the praise of God our Father in heaven, hallowed be his name. The Son will set. Let us be diligent about our Father’s business sharing the news of the Light and not be pusillanimous! But oh . . . oh, when that Son does rise again!!
Music: “Phos Hilaron” Owain Park The Gesualdo Six
This is the earliest Christian hymn still in use. It is from the 3rd century. Here is an English translation of the Greek text, its original language.
Hail, gladdening Light, of his pure glory poured,
Who is the immortal Father, heavenly, blest,
Holiest of holies, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now we are come to the sun’s hour of rest,
The lights of evening round us shine,
We hymn the Father, Son and Holy Spirit divine.
Worthy are you at all times to be sung with undefiled tongue,
Son of our God, giver of life, alone:
Therefore in all the world your glories, Lord, they own.
Father in heaven, I’m afraid that we, as your children, are far too fickle in faithfulness. You give us light when the sun comes up each day, and after a period of time, the sun sets and it is dark. We assume that the sun will come up again tomorrow. It always has. Your word is clear that we need to act while we have the light because the sun does not come up forever. One day will be the last one and you’ll return to earth and nothing will be the same. Help us to speak out while we still have the Light and the eternal Son has not “set” bringing an end to this world as we know it. May the praise of God mean more than the praise and acceptance of man. In your grace, give to us a holy abandonment in sharing the good news in a world filled with people stumbling, searching and groping in their darkness. This we pray through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.