Sunday, May 29, 2016

Light and Judgement (John 12:20-50)

The reactions to Jesus’ ministry reach the point where some Greeks seek Jesus out. It is at this point where Jesus declares that the time has come for Him to die. All along Jesus has done exactly what the Father has told Him too. That doesn’t change now, but it is not an easy thing to go to one’s death, especially a death like what awaited Jesus. He prays, however, for God to be glorified in His purpose. And God responds audibly.

Admittedly, though, not in any way that anyone other than Jesus could understand. Some simply heard thunder, others thought it was a supernatural noise. Jesus says that this extraordinary occurrence was for the crowd’s benefit; a confirmation of what Jesus was teaching. Not that it really helps, though.

This is something to keep in mind today. Many lament the fact that God does not make Himself more apparent. But the truth is that He does. And not merely in a “supernatural” manner. The natural world is ample evidence of God’s existence, but it is still a matter of faith: belief independent of any signs. Miracles didn’t help people’s faith in the Gospel of John. Why do we think they do any better today? Signs only strengthen faith, they don’t create it.

Jesus tells the people that His time has come. On the cross, the sin of the world would be judged, the ruler of this fallen world would be cast aside, and all people would be drawn to Christ. But belief is still the key response. As Jesus provides this last word to the masses and prepares to minister teaching to just His followers going forward, people still reject the message.

John tells us that this is all a part of the plan. Some, many, were not enlightened. They were not allowed to see the truth. What is more disturbing, he tells us that some did understand; but out of a fear of men or a love of position they did not follow Jesus or trust His message.

And Jesus affirms one last time what John has reported all along. Jesus, the Light of the World, came to save and not judge. Any who see His light and believe are saved from the judgement under which all humanity suffers. Those who reject Jesus are not being judged for that, but continue in the judgement, the darkness where they live.

The good news of the Gospel is a message of hope and rescue for those who rightly understand the human condition and their need for salvation. It is not—as some critique today—a negative and harsh condemnation of people for “mere mistakes” or perceived short-comings. That is the lie of people who are less self-aware than they realize.

We are all stumbling around in the dark in need of help that we can’t provide ourselves. To condemn the light and the offer of rescue as a judgmental prejudice is the uttermost pride. And it is pride that landed us in the dark to begin with.

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