+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.
Text: John 3:21
Theme: Into The Light
Dear friends in Christ Jesus,
“God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God,” with these words we confess the same truth with those who forged the Nicene Creed nearly 17 centuries ago concerning the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. We concur that Christ is Light out of Light1, the second Light referring to God the Father. Jesus possesses and participates in the same essential divinity as the Father. The allusion here is to a particular quality of that divinity denoted as light. Now lest we think this is much ado about nothing our gospel today instructs us otherwise. It says, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”2 Light is required for vision. In Christ we see God, not with fleshly eyes, but through Spirit-given eyes of faith.
St Paul describes God as dwelling in unapproachable light.3 Human beings are not capable of peering into this light because it is qualitatively different than the created light to which we are accustomed. It is tied up with the magnificence of His glory. It is not proper for us to speculate about mysteries which are not yet disclosed to us so the question again follows: What benefit is there to linger longer on the topic except as a reference point to confess and give glory to God as we do in the Nicene Creed? Again, the reward is that Christ and His work are understood all the more clearly. God did not remain recessed in His own inaccessible light leaving us with only the fading light of the natural sun; rather, He clothed His own pure light in human flesh in the person of Jesus. Even as the Psalmist says, “He wraps Himself in light as with a garment.”4
Christ comes for a purpose and His work is twofold. Firstly, the Light exposes. Until this happens Jesus’ proper work of forgiveness and salvation comes to no effect. Christ came to a dark world. You know the darkness. It resonates with your natural self, your sinful nature, your devious spirit. You know what it means when your motives dart around in the shadows, when they look for concealment in the dark corners of your mind. You know when the darkness presses in, clouding your judgment and weighing on your conscience. The history of the darkness of sin is long and deep. How dark was the exit5 from the Garden of Eden for our first parents! How dark was the ninth plague on the Egyptians!6 How dark was the situation when Jesus said at the moment of His betrayal, “This is you hour-when darkness reigns.”7 How dark is the sinner who thinks they need no forgiveness from God!
Lest we think we can present our dark deeds as products of the light- and we are indeed led to such deception because the world fortifies us in such audacity- the holy law of God emphatically exposes our hypocrisy and deception. He says through Isaiah, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.”8
Our sins, you see, can never be cast in a good light, or in better light. Lent does not fit us with rose-coloured glasses. The Scriptures do not give us circus mirrors with which to view ourselves. Even if celebrated by the world our sins are condemned by Him who judges it. Under the light of divine judgment there are no shadows. He bends the light to reveal every angle. He sees the tangled web of lies we weave, the labyrinth in which we conceal our motives; and the arrogance and jealousy which fuels our egos. He knows the anger that boils in our blood, the bitterness that festers in our hearts; the regrets that darken our souls. He sees our neglect of the Sabbath, our disregard for authority, and our mistreatment of our spouses- all for what they really are.
The Light exposes. The Light also reveals. That is Christ’s second, but primary and proper work. He reveals truth. On public display is the Messiah, the King of the Jews hanging there on the cross being sacrificed for the sins of the world. Hear again the Scriptures, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”9 “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”10
He is resurrected. He lives and so the light of Easter never fades. Jesus says today, “Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”11 Christians do not have a hidden agenda. We’re not part of a secret society. We unapologetically, but with gentleness and respect, endeavor to shine His light into the dark places of people’s lives.
In every way believers are connected to Christ. To only pretend so is to just play clever but dangerous spiritual games. Christ is the Shepherd, the Vine, the Head, the Cornerstone, the Bridegroom, the Light of the World. The Shepherd has sheep. The vine has branches. The Head has a body. The Cornerstone has a temple. The Bridegroom has a bride. The Light has objects which it illumines. Those descriptions all refer to you, His baptized. You have no other purpose than to reflect His light. You are baptized, forgiven, and fed with His body and blood to be strengthened for that very purpose.
Dear friends when the servant of God, the pastor, lifts up his hands and says, “The Lord make His face shine on you…”12 the Holy Spirit can through that divine promise rekindle tenuous faith, brighten darkened souls, and cheer the downcast in heart. All of the glitz and glimmer of the world, the very best human resourcefulness has to offer- the capability of medicine, the proficiency of technology, the competency of psychiatric and psychological expertise- is all utter darkness in the presence of Him who is Life and Light. You, dear friends, are not in darkness for Christ is the Light no darkness can overcome. Amen.
+ In nomine Jesu +
Fourth Sunday In Lent
15 March, 2015
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt
1 φώς έκ φωτός, Light of Light, Greek
2 John 3:19
3 See 1 Timothy 6:16
4 Psalm 104:2
5See Genesis 3:23
6 See Exodus 10:21-23
7 Luke 22:53
8 Isaiah 5:20
9 Ephesians 2:4-6
10 John 3:16