Wednesday, November 11, 2009

11/11/09 John 1:5-8 God's Light Overcoming Our Darkness

Daily devotional blog using the gospels and John Calvin.

John 1:5-8
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
Calvin abridged: Not only did Christ exhibit himself before people, but he chose to be made known by the testimony and teachings of John. John was appointed not for the sake of Christ, but for our sake. John was an ambassador of God, with the character of an angel more than a man. “sent from God”- John came not by his own wishes but by the command of God. So all the teachers of the Church today are called to come by God. 7- “He came as a witness” the goal of his calling was that he might prepare a church for Christ. 8- “he was not the light”- John was so well respected that the Evangelist gives this warning lest his excessive brightness obscure the glory of Christ. Just as some are fascinated with the dawn so much that they do not see the sun come up, so there were some who looked at John so eagerly they neglected Christ. All the godly are light in the Lord (Eph. 5:8)- because they are enlightened by the Spirit, so they see their salvation, and direct others by their example to the way of salvation. The apostles are especially called the light (Mt. 5:14) because they go before us, holding out the torch of the Gospel, to dispel the darkness of the world. But here the Evangelist speaks of Him who is the eternal source of illumination.

Thoughts: There is a tendency to think that our darkness is stronger than God’s light. That is, that our sin is stronger than God’s power to forgive. I have known many people who give up on the God and the Church because of some sin or darkness in their lives that brings them shame. Yet God’s grace is much more powerful and can give us another chance. In John 1, it speaks of the light (Jesus) coming into the darkness but the darkness does not overcome the light. Evil resists good, but is not strong enough. Christianity differs from Zoroastrianism that says that evil and good struggle against each other (as equal gods) and we’re not sure which one will win. Christianity also differs from Panentheism (a new development of pantheism) that downplays the omnipotence of God, so that He cannot be blamed for evil- but as a consequence we cannot fully trust his promises or that He will win over evil. The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are a testimony to us that God wins. On this veteran's day, that is an important concept- Jesus is the veteran who has secured the victory for us. He wins over the political evil, the religious evil, the sinfulness of the people, over sickness, over persecution, and over death itself. So we should take heart. When I lived in Asheville, N.C., there was a rock slide that blocked a tunnel. It backed traffic up for miles, and I was stuck in the middle with seemingly no way out. But the crews were working. After a few hours, the road was cleared and the first car made it through the tunnel. I said, “We made it through” even though I was still in the traffic jam. Jesus has overcome the darkness- He has made it through. There is light at the end of the tunnel. So we too overcome darkness because He has overcome it. John testifies to this light, and we should too. People need hope, and we have the eternal hope in us when we believe.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for piercing our darkness, and for overcoming the world’s and our darkness. Help us to remember your hope today.

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