Light and Darkness (John Chapters 7-9)

Light and Darkness (John Chapters 7-9)

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Jesus declares in (John 7:24) “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” In a sense, this is the theme of this important section of John’s Gospel, which focuses on “light” (John Chapters 7-9).

Light and darkness are constant themes in John’s New Testament writings. Those who live in darkness are confused, unable to see reality. Lost in a world of illusion they make judgments based on mere appearances, and are simply unable to grasp what is important and true.

Light, on the other hand, cuts through this darkness to unveil the right and the true. And Jesus is the Cornerstone of the kingdom of light; we begin to “see” when we acknowledge Him as the eternal Son of God.

But “light” also has a moral dimension. And it is this moral dimension that Jesus affirmed as He not only presented Himself to Israel as God, but also claimed the right to establish a grace morality which is far higher than the legalistic morality of the Jews, for it alone truly reflects the morality of God.

For Christians today, morality is summed up in doing “right” and in cutting ourselves off from any relationship with those who did not do as we did. We never realized that our attitude might distort true morality. We failed to see the “light” that Jesus brought into the world.

Light and darkness are moral terms to John. They represent good and bad, righteousness and evil, as well as truth and falsity. Christ, the eternal Word (John 1) is the One through whom righteousness has always been communicated. Christ planted a moral awareness deep in every person, and revealed the nature of goodness back in the Old Testament. But John tells us that man’s understanding and interpretation of light is faulty. Therefore, Paul can insist that the Law is “holy, righteous, and good” and still be convinced that Law had been an agent of death, stimulating sin rather than quieting it (Romans 7:7-12).

As we see in (John 7:14-24), at heart Israel had rejected God’s authority. The leaders had made man’s ideas supreme, and had missed the real meaning of the Law of Moses, which none kept. Jesus declares in (John 7:19), “Has not Moses given you the law?” “Yet none of you keeps the law.” “Why do you seek to kill me?” Even as they had rejected the evidence of the miracles that the Father empowered the Son to perform. If any of Jesus’ critics had committed himself to do God’s will, he would have recognized Jesus’ teachings as the Word of God.

This is a critical point for us too. Moral and spiritual blindness are not rooted in our inability to understand. They are rooted in our unwillingness to submit completely to God. If anyone simply determines to do God’s will, that person will be enlightened, and will first recognize Jesus as God’s Son, and then acknowledge His teachings as God’s Word.

As the “Light” of the world, Jesus reveals the morality of God. In Him we see beyond all previous revelations of goodness. In His every action, Jesus gives a clear and unmistakable picture of grace. He shakes our old ideas of morality, and helps us to understand God’s righteousness. Jesus did not in any way condone sin. He even upheld the rightness of sin’s ultimate penalty “ And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them.” “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” But Jesus did demonstrate that God reacts to sinners in a far different way than we tend to. Man’s legalistic interpretation of morality involves hatred and rejection of the sinner. It leads to judging others, and to the fear of being judged. It also leads to injustice, as some are excused for their failures, while others are never accused. A legalistic morality blinds us to our own condition as sinners, and puts us beside those we have been so quick to condemn.

But God’s morality, shown in Jesus, is a morality rooted in grace. It never compromises with sin, but it never rejects the sinner. It accords the sinner love and respect; it says that a person is of worth and value.

The goal of grace’s treatment is to rescue the individual from slavery to sin, and to free him / her to sin no more. The person who lives in the light shed by Jesus is ever aware that he approaches others not as one who is exalted above them to judge, but as one who shares with them a common infirmity that prohibits anyone from casting the first stone. How can we learn to live this new morality of grace? We are to learn from Jesus, by following Him out of the darkness and into His light “Again Jesus spoke to them saying, “I am the light of the world.” “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

God Bless You All!