Light in the Darkness

“I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he… Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me”(Jn. 13:19, 21).

In Jesus’ final hours, we see Him troubled by the darkness surrounding Him. One of His closest friends betrayed Him unto death, and the devil himself takes on a personal assaulting role. Jesus seems utterly alone and victimized as the night intensifies.

However, Jesus is not merely a passive sufferer. No, right in the midst of this deepest darkness, Christ makes Himself known as the God of light. Moreover, God is revealed in Christ as the truly sovereign ruler of all – even the darkness.

We see the God of the Bible as one who is greater than we ever knew and more awesome than we could have imagined. His power and might extend far past the boundaries we often envision in our finite assumptions. To the watchful eye, God shows His brilliant light in the midst of darkness. For He is the God who forms light and creates darkness, and He is the God who has promised that darkness will one day be no more.

Christ is Light

Jesus said, “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).

Stubbing your toe on the bed-frame is just one of the many perils of walking in the dark. Moving blindly through your familiar home is one thing, but the unfriendly and bewildering darkness in the world conceals devastating troubles. Simply put, darkness is cold, confusing, and dangerous.

Amid such darkness, the dawn of light breaks through in the person and work of Jesus Christ! Warmth renews, and gloom dissipates; for the comforting and illuminating presence of Christ has come.

The theme of light is rich and pervasive throughout the Bible, and Christ embodies all that God tells us about light. Christ is the presence of God with us (Jn. 1:14, 18); He is the glory of God revealed (Jn. 1:14); He is the wisdom of God made known (Jn. 1:9); He is the life-giving power of God to save (Jn. 1:4, 12-13); He is the fullness of God’s gracious grace (John 1:16)!

Oh, praise be to God! For the dawn of light has come, and He is Christ our King and Savior!

Are You in the Dark or the Light?

In the Bible, God often uses themes and imagery to make His teaching clear. Light and darkness are presented to us in the opening pages of Genesis when God tells us that He created light to dispel darkness at His command (Gen. 1:2-3).

This theme is picked up throughout the Bible, and it is especially prominent in the Gospel of John. John’s Gospel presents a world of darkness, inhabited by wicked people who want to remain in the shadows rather than be exposed to the light.

We find this to be true in our own experience, don’t we?

When someone does something they know they should not do, they often try to hide their activity under the cover of darkness. Either literally or figuratively, wicked things are generally done in darkness (in secret).

Additionally, when these secret things are exposed (when the light shines upon them), the nearly universal response is to run away from the light. How many times have we witnessed people lying to cover up their wickedness? Do the lies stop when someone is caught in a lie? No! The lies continue and become increasingly complicated. This common experience is not only found in the activities of others; it is found in our own activities as well.

What we read about in John’s Gospel aligns perfectly with our own experience: wickedness loves darkness and hates light.

The world of darkness and its wicked inhabitants is disheartening, for sure, but there is hope to be found in the light. John’s Gospel also teaches us that God’s light is both exposing and enlightening. God’s light of truth simultaneously condemns wickedness and provides a clear path towards redemption.

The essential message of Christianity is not a message of personal improvement or moralistic ascendency… quite the contrary.

The good news of Christianity is that God has shown love and mercy towards those who are morally filthy and personally blameworthy. However (and here is the rub), the mercy God offers is only available to those who are willing to expose their own wickedness to the light of His judgment.

If you want to keep pretending that you aren’t as bad as you really are, then you may remain in darkness (at least until you stand before God at the final judgment). But, for those who will come into the light, expose themselves of guilty and disgraceful, there is a great hope.

The hope we may have is provided in the reality that Jesus Christ is the substitute for all who trust in Him.

Jesus (fully God and genuinely human) was born without darkness and guilt. He lived a life of perfect obedience to God’s law, exposing Himself as morally and personally pure in the light. However, when Jesus died upon a Roman cross, He was counted as filthy and blameworthy on behalf of all those who would trust Him as their substitute. In this way, God both exposes wicked sinners for who they are and provides hope for their escape from His righteous judgment.

Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free;

for God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me.

Since our first parents disobeyed God, creation (including humanity) has become dark. Truth and righteousness have been dulled and obscured in disobedience (Rom. 1:18), and humanity has happily sided with the darkness (Jn. 3:19). However, God’s light is an overwhelming beam (Jn. 1:4-5), both exposing sin and bringing life to those who humbly receive Him (Jn. 1:12-13; cf. Jn. 3:16-21).

May the light of Christ’s truth shine upon us today.

Where is Your Shame?

The sense of shame is universal among humanity. We all feel a deep sense of shame for our failures and our continuing inadequacies. The way we would seek to solve our problem of shame is to deny or embrace the sinful cause of it. Don’t you see that this is what we do all the time?

We deny that we feel shame, because we excuse what we have done as “normal” or “acceptable.”

Caught in sin, we feel the pain of our guilt – the shame of it. And we look around us to see if there is anyone else who has been exposed. “Look!” we say… “Look! There are many others who have done this thing and worse! I have no reason to be ashamed.”

Or, we embrace our sin; and we think this is how we rid ourselves of shame.

Our minds torment us, and our broken hearts sink deeper within as our guilt compounds – our shame is overwhelming. Then, we look around us to see that there are many others who do those same things we have done, and they do not seem to be ashamed at all. In fact, they are embracing and even celebrating their sin. “Look!” we say… “Look! There are many others who do these very same things! My shame is only in my imagination, and there is no reason for it!”

Nevertheless, in all of this, the shame remains…

These foolish and feeble attempts to be without shame are all around us, and our lives are likely characterized by them.

But this is not the solution found in the Gospel! The solution for shame in the Gospel is altogether better. Consider the wisdom of God and be amazed by the richness of it!

God has looked upon the world of condemned sinners, sickened and oppressed by their shame. He has specifically observed you, and He knows what is hidden deep in your soul. He knows the secrets you keep, and He is well aware of your shameful sin. There is nothing in you that is not known to Him.

He knows that you deserve nothing but His righteous fury. He knows that your life of rebellion and wickedness should be exposed and scrutinized and condemned at this very moment. He knows that there is absolutely no reason that He should not drag you in front of His judgment seat without delay.

With all of this in His full and open view, He sees you cowering in darkness. Like your father, Adam, before you, He sees you hiding from your Creator.

And yet…  And yet…

This Ancient of Days, the One in whom there is no darkness (1 Jn. 1:5) has put on human form and entered into your shadowy gloom! The God who is called “light” has shamed Himself among your darkness! In the person of Jesus Christ, the King of glory became the suffering and shameful servant!

Christ is the lofty and incomparable expression of God’s grace towards you! He has lived a life of perfect righteousness, earning a shameless standing before God. He is the only human to ever deserve to be called “not guilty.” But this same Jesus has taken your guilt and shame and made it His own.

Where is your shame, you sinner?! I will tell you where it is! It is exposed! It is already on display, but it is not your face upon the body of it. Christ Himself, He has carried it! He has borne it fully… all of it… not a bit left out.

On a Roman cross, Jesus endured the full judgment and wrath of God. Your sinful shame was placed upon Him, and every wicked thing you have ever thought, said, or done was exposed to God’s righteous fury.

Christ was counted shameful, bearing all of your shame, so that you may be counted utterly free!  Truly free!  Really free!

So, then… Those who believe, those who practice truth, those who trust in this gracious Savior, can come into the light. We may leave darkness without shame.