Tag: Post Tenebras Lux

Post Tenebras Lux – The Lamb Is its Light

Revelation 21:10-27

While back someone came up with way to turn Bible into acronym, you know, where each letter begins word that makes statement of some kind. BIBLE – Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Shouldn’t spend all our time using Bible like handbook. God’s Word also a picture book. Many words intended to create images in minds that God intends us to see. Is especially true when we come to literature like Revelation – even more important closer we come to end.

1 Cor. 2:9“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” NLT

Is beyond human ability to adequately imagine heaven, place where people of God will be after Lord Jesus’ next coming. John attempting to describe the indescribable. Reality will be immeasurably more. Is limit to how far we can go in trying to grasp full scope of what John saw. God will overlook no detail, spare no expense in preparing both his people and their new home.

Remember the picture book concept? The holy city is both picture and place. Just like Jerusalem, a place in Palestine the focus of much recent heated discussion… and much more – even in old days it stood for more than just a city. Was a particular city – home of the king, location of central worship, where God dwelt with his people. Holy Jerusalem as John saw it a picture of God’s people, body of Christ, the church. Also the place where God himself will dwell with his people… forever! That is where angel begins in conversation with John, inviting him to come see a sight like had never seen before.

Have in brief series beginning Thursday evening considered much about darkness – Post Tenebras Lux… After Darkness Lux. Darkness at very beginning of creation, darkness of sin and mankind’s love of darkness, three hours of darkness at Calvary, lingering darkness at tomb. Now the light in great city that has no darkness at all, ever.

A. light like a most precious stone

radiant glory throughout v.11

have had hints of God’s glory before – rubbed off on Moses face while meeting with God (Ex. 34:29-30); prevented Moses from entering tent of meeting (Ex. 40:34-35), priests could not enter Solomon’s temple because God’s glory filled it (2 Chron. 7:1-2); glory that broke through when Jesus was transfigured (Matt. 17:1-2)

in city John describes, glory not something that comes and goes, doesn’t move around city – permeates every aspect without exception, including residents

keep in mind… this is God’s glory described here – not glory and radiance and purity city and people possess on their own

massive in size v.16

people of various political leanings making waves about earth’s population, overcrowding – God not concerned, city spacious enough for everyone to live in comfortable community

also place of perfect security – has gates on all sides… but are never closed – people from all walks of life, every part of globe who love God and desire to be in his presence welcomed there

no distinct place of worship v.22

wherever God is, the Lamb is… will be worship – in the city, that is, with the redeemed wherever they are, filling the earth

all of life a continual act of worship – doing all to glory of God immediately present, in continual fellowship with God

focus on the Lamb

the Lamb’s wife (9); apostles of the Lamb (14); the Lamb its temple (22); the Lamb its light (23); the Lamb’s Book of Life (27)

same focus should be present now – Lamb of God must be central in our worship, our thoughts and actions and desires

those who have no love for Lamb, desire to be close to him not welcome in city – in truth, would not be comfortable there

B. no need of the sun or of the moon v.23a

sun and moon still present

creation now eagerly anticipating release from curse issued in Garden of Eden, will participate in glorious freedom that awaits true followers of Christ (Rom. 8:19-21)

whatever there is about created universe affected by sin and curse will be removed / restored to better than original

will still keep track of time (Rev. 22:2)

tree of life producing different fruit each month, each year will still have 12 months – will be passage of time but without same effects as now… because of sin

their light faint shadow

our star, the sun big and bright in part because of how close – other stars bigger and brighter… and more distant

God himself immeasurably bigger and brighter than any created light, also closer to his people in that eternal city

C. the glory of God illuminated it v.23b

splendor of God himself

not a created light or glory God supplies to city – another way of saying God in all his fullness and splendor present with his people

God is eternally unchanging, so also the light of his glory – James 1:17

present sun may be (at least in opinion of some scientists) running down, producing less heat and light as time passes

God is Father of lights, “there is no variation or shadow of turning” – in new universe, will be nothing that holds his glory back or hinders our enjoyment of it

Jesus’ prayer answered

John 17:5, and more – prayed that “Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed”

prayed also that those whom the Father gave would be where he is and behold his glory – will be reality in that city

D. the Lamb is its light v.23c

see John 1:4, 29

“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

the Lamb, life and light inseparably connected – is Lamb who gives life and light… in this life and the next, forever

inescapable theme: redemption to life

Bible itself story of God’s plan of redemption, how he is carrying it out, and how it all turns out in the end – reaches climax in last book, Revelation

what pictured here in conclusion of book: redeemed who have been given gift of eternal life will live in place of eternal light

Lamb not Lion who is light of that city; Lamb 28x referring to Christ in Revelation

battle scenes pictured for us in book easily capture attention, provide good material for action movies, but… not where story ends – not even main point

is the Lamb who is focus, not the conquering warrior – gives clue ones who benefit from Lion’s victories are those redeemed by the Lamb

E. there shall be no night there v.25, 27a

no visible darkness

statement repeated in next chapter: Rev. 22:5 “There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.”

no matter how bright light here, always dark corner somewhere – not in that city… no darkness anywhere at any time

nothing associated with darkness

is things that defile or deceive that cause so much trouble and heartache – have clear assurance from God’s Word will not be present in that city

people and things associated with darkness have own place to be – unholy trinity of dragon, beast, false prophet thrown into lake of fire along with all devil’s angels (Rev. 19:20; 20:10; Matt. 25:41)

same destiny awaits all whose names not found written in Book of Life – no second chance, last-minute transactions

this truly one of the glories of heaven, that for converted Christian sin in all its forms will forever be thing of the past

will be completely transformed people living in transformed place with no possibility ever of falling back into sin

F. only those in the Lamb’s Book of Life v.27b

entrance to city must be purchased

gates to city wide open, never closed during daylight… and it’s always day – does not mean that anyone who wishes can freely enter city

those who enter must already have the life, something purchased at cost of another life on cross of Calvary

was the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, who gave his life a ransom for those he came to save – gift of life is free to the recipient yet cost the Giver his own life

all who enter must have a record of purchase

Scarlet Pimpernel: “an absolutely unconditional certificate of safety. The Committee of General Security issue very few of these. It is worth the cost of a human life. At no barrier or gate of any city can such a certificate be disregarded, nor even can it be detained.”

their name written in Lamb’s Book of Life is “absolutely unconditional certificate of safety”, guarantees entrance to city

residents can bring family and friends

ours not the final decision, however really can’t say it better than apostle Paul:

2 Cor. 5:20Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”

if we have personally experienced light of Christ shining in our life, can share that light with family, friends, neighbors

not hard or complicated, start by telling your story – how did you come to understand your sinfulness, need of a Savior

is when we shine light of Gospel in our individual corner of world, help others do same in their corner, God uses that to bring others to understand the truth

Send the Light

Post Tenebras Lux – It Was Still Dark

John 20:1-13

Matt. 28:1-4     Mark 16:1-4     Luke 24:1-3

Hard for us to comprehend / relate to what Jesus’ circle of close friends and family experienced from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning and beyond. That particular Sabbath “a high day” (John 19:31), a sabbath that was also a feast day. How could someone who had trusted in Lord Jesus to bring hope and future possibly celebrate on that day? Couldn’t stay busy either… was day of rest. Luke 23:55-56 watched from distance how Joseph and Nicodemus prepared Jesus’ body for burial. Was done in haste – did not have time before sunset, start of Sabbath to do proper job.

Possibly they lacked adequate supplies to accomplish what they really wanted, stores closed on sabbath. Did have some aromatic spices, fragrant oils (perfumes) they prepared to use on Jesus’ body. Was task they really wanted to do and at same time really did not want to. Would then be no escaping / denying fact that Jesus had for certain died Friday afternoon. So many thoughts, so much a drain on emotions, so much uncertainty about what future would hold… starting with Sunday morning.

Don’t know what the weather was like on that high Sabbath – how did nature respond to her Creator’s circumstances? Brilliant sunshine, early blooms of spring, all to show confidence of his certain triumph? Or was the day dark and somber, reflecting the mood and mindset of that small band of disciples? After 3 years of ministry numbers were still pretty small. If Jesus’ overall success in starting new religion measured by number of followers on that Saturday, would have mostly been considered a failure. 6 weeks later only few more than 100 gathered in Jerusalem.

That dreary and dismal Sabbath finally ended, sunset on Saturday arrived, still more waiting. Would not be able to properly carry out their task without light of day. Besides the questions might get asked, great risks involved for small band of women going unescorted to graveyard after dark. Meant actually leaving the city, not easily or safely done after gates were closed at sunset. Hard as it would be, ladies had to face more waiting until Sunday morning.

A. it was still dark v.1

no ambiguity about day of week

all Gospel accounts make it plain this was Sunday morning – on first day of the week, after sabbath ended previous evening

what was called 4th watch of night

period from 3am to 6am – Jewish timekeeping comes from Creation account… “the evening and the morning were the …day”

then hours of daylight numbered: first hour of day, end of night watches, about 6am; Jesus crucified at third hour, 9am; darkness from 6th to 9th hour, 12 noon to 3pm; Jesus died 3pm, buried by 6pm

probably around 5am when ladies arrived at tomb, bringing supplies they gathered to anoint and re-wrap Jesus’ body

beginning hints of dawn

streaks of light in sky, early light filtering through trees in the Garden – able to see clearly enough to move around easily

also enough light to see details at distance – could tell before they reached tomb that stone had already been moved

knew they couldn’t move the stone, perhaps not aware of Roman soldiers sent to guard, official seal placed on entrance

all they “knew” was beloved Lord Jesus’ body needed further loving attention, they were there for that purpose

more important, they were still in the dark

in spite of increasing daylight, ladies coming to tomb still very much in dark about all that had occurred, what it meant

best they could come up with given what they “saw” – somebody must have taken body away, put it somewhere else

was it just temporary resting place until after Sabbath, Joseph or Nicodemus wanted their tomb back?

many details escaped their notice at first – didn’t see angel sitting on the stone, two inside the tomb for starters

wasn’t for lack of light – face like lightning, clothes white as snow – awe-inspiring enough guards passed out from fright

affected inner circle also

Peter and John thought report that Jesus’ body was missing worth checking out – later thought report he was alive “idle tales, and they did not believe them” Luke 24:11

neither Peter nor John saw angels standing at head and foot of burial shelf – Peter saw empty grave clothes, John saw how they were there – puzzled, mystified, still in the dark

could not at that time begin to figure out what was wrong with their scenario – start with one detail in plain sight, linen cloths

grave-robbers would not have taken time to unwrap the body, would have no purpose in doing so; same if he wa to be re-buried some distance away

fits perfectly with scenario Jesus gave to his followers, not the one they were still clinging to / filtering everything through

B. they did not know the Scripture v.9

understanding slow in coming

was a process for all of Jesus’ followers – acceptance of the facts, belief they were true, then understanding of significance

also involved multiple pathways to absorb information – needed to see, hear, remember, touch – this all after lots of repetition

all had made certain connections, contrived particular mental images / concepts of what to expect at Jesus’ tomb

not a quick process for most to rebuild those images, reach new conclusions, understand what was really happening

did not know how to properly interpret the data

was right day, seals were broken, graveclothes neatly folded, tomb was empty, angels in attendance – simple for us to fit those pieces of information into all else we know to be true

Jesus’ followers could not grasp what place death had in ministry of Messiah – did not yet connect Lamb of God with Passover Lamb, still thought Messiah only for Jews, not whole world

Jesus’ coming to earth changed far more than calendar – his coming brought in paradigm shift, radical change in way of thinking / living for people worldwide

Jesus’ immediate followers in thinking working with Fisher-Price Baby’s First Blocks, Jesus was giving blocks from Melissa & Doug set – no way to make them fit

knew what Jesus said

ladies heard from angel and remembered – Luk. 24:6-8“He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee,“saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.'”And they remembered His words.”

was somethign jesus said more than once – had said repeatedly on final trip to Jerusalem, telling disciples why he couldn’t skip town for a while

apparently ladies had been within earshot, heard what Jesus said, like disciples put it away in closet, didn’t know how to use that piece of information

they reminded disciples – Luk. 24:9they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.”

not new information, they did remember Jesus’ words, but even in ideal context of actual events were not able to connect dots into coherent picture

still did not grasp what he meant

John believed his eyes, Peter perhaps not – Peter the Impulsive rushed right in, quick look around, then went home, maybe wondering if eyes playing tricks

John took little more time, more deliberate in how he sized up situation – took time to note particular details, did accept what he saw: Jesus’ body no longer there

could not even accept explanation given by angels, repeated to them by ladies – wrote off as foolishness from grief, lack of sleep, wishful thinking

problem that plagued all the disciples

had preconceived ideas – confident they knew what Jesus was about, how things should go, what outcome should be

Peter got in trouble for trying to change Jesus’ plans when he knew Jesus was the Messiah – Matt. 16:22“Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to You!”

image of Messiah in part product of Jewish heritage, result of rabbinic teaching, personal understanding of OT

to apply Jesus’ teaching about his future to Messiah – cause for ridicule or worse, maybe even accused of blasphemy

their ideas about Messiah and his ministry had deep roots, highly resistant to change, like some of ideas we have

got in way of understanding application / significance of truth – people are funny, do such good job convincing themselves of something, almost impossible to change minds

disciples simply could not believe that Messiah’s ministry would end in death… nor could they believe one they saw die by crucifixion could now be alive

C. I do not know where they have laid Him v.13

even after all this, Mary still in the dark

had so convinced herself of what must be true, could not adjust – clinging to idea she had come to properly anoint dead body, must somehow find body and carry out her task

was as if all other evidence clearly present was making no impression – she couldn’t figure out how to process it all

overwhelming weight of evidence not enough to bring light

not just Mary, true for disciples also… and good reminder for us – for lost loved ones, will never be great enough weight of evidence to persuade of truth, convince to embrace it

witness of angels insufficient to bring into the light

not dependent on credibility and communication ability of messenger either – witness of the angels inadequate for Mary

required personal encounter with risen Christ to see the light

don’t be too hard on Thomas – he gets hard rap, even nickname based on just one statement, Doubting Thomas

reality is Thomas probably the only one who said with outside voice what everyone else had been thinking at some point

Mary had to hear her name

seeing evidence, being reminded of Jesus’ words, hearing witness of angels, even seeing Jesus not sufficient – hearing name spoken by her Lord all it took to bring light of understanding

people no different now

we should present the evidence… as clearly and persuasively as possible… but evidence by itself not sufficient

we must share the Gospel at every possible opportunity, call people to repentance and faith, yet by itself insufficient

pray diligently lost people would have personal encounter with Jesus Christ through ministry of his Holy Spirit, hear his call to them

we who have heard and responded to Gospel call need to allow God’s word the Bible to shape our thinking and understanding of all spiritual truth

 

Post Tenebras Lux – Darkness Over All the Earth

Luke 23:33-46

Ex. 10:20-23        Isa. 9:1-2         Zeph. 1:14-15

Love-hate relationship with the dark. Some things we like about the dark – can see fireflies, stars and planets, fireworks, northern lights. Don’t mind the dark as long as not too dark – night lights, motion-sensitive lights, security lights. Even when desire to do something better carried out under cover of darkness, take along flashlight just to be safe. There it is, sense everyone has that not always safe in the dark. The deeper the darkness, greater uneasiness and feeling of insecurity.

Those reservations totally justified… darkness may be absence of light but does not make it empty. In fact, Bible makes clear much going on in the darkness, most of it not good. True about physical darkness, especially so with respect to spiritual darkness. Bible tells of two times in history when supernatural darkness visited the earth – when God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt, when God delivered his people from slavery in sin. The first ushered in new calendar for children of Israel. The second ushered in new calendar for entire world.

Call it Good Friday, yes it was, good for us. At same time, darkest day in all of history when Son of Man, Son of God reached lowest depths of his humiliation. Began when left behind glorious presence of the Father, enrobed himself in humanity. Culminated with death and burial of God-Man. We know rest of story, how God has highly exalted him… beginning with his resurrection from the dead, more on that Sunday morning!

A. there was darkness over all the earth v.44

“darkness” already present

Gen. 6:5-6Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

judged the earth with flood, only 8 survivors – would think God had spoken loudly enough, no need to repeat himself

not so – Tower of Babel, idol-worship of Egypt, later idol-worship of Jewish people, cycles recorded in book of Judges

“For if we consider the Father, we shall see that he was as deeply immersed in darkness and hidden from the world, with respect to the glory and honour of his name, as Christ himself was when hanging upon the cross. For what was the state of things at that time in the world? All was full of impious and blasphemous idolatries; so much so, that there were some who worshipped the sun and the moon, and even fishes and birds ; and the most holy name of the divine Majesty had to endure seeing adoration paid to his creatures, but none to himself. Nay, the Jews even, who were called the people of God, practised their idolatries under his name, by trusting in their own works and righteousness.” Luther

not localized

plague of darkness covered entire land of Egypt yet with exceptions – children of Israel had light within their homes

no exceptions given for this darkness – not limited to Jerusalem, surrounding area of Judea… covered whole land

spiritual darkness not limited to small areas – spiritual forces of wickedness not hindered by political/geographical boundaries

this darkness brought about by God himself – at same time not hard to believe Satan and allies present in force, doing their part to guarantee outcome they wanted

is powerful – see Col. 1:13

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” – domain of darkness has very powerful ruler

simple darkness itself when thick enough can paralyze sighted people – remember Egyptians, perhaps personal experience

then the darkening influence of sin – prevents accurate understanding, hinders proper reasoning, makes evil appear good

B. the sun was darkened v.45

astronomically impossible to be eclipse

month of Nisan begins at new moon, Passover begins on 14th day of month, iow night of full moon, when moon on far side of earth from the sun

goodness of God so evident in assigning day for Passover – nearly 1500 years earlier established observance in such a way that no opportunity for confusion on day of crucifixion

God didn’t rely on human dating methods to make his point – specific date not important, know with certainty alignment of earth / sun / moon on that day

God’s curtain obscured the sun

sixth hour on Jewish clock equivalent to noon – brightest portion of day, time the Father chose to bring cloak of darkness

like many other things, Bible does not give explanation for this – tells us what happened, not how… we can rule out certain things, cannot know with certainty means used to accomplish darkness

do know this: no way possible for mankind to achieve it, no known natural phenomenon adequate to explain it

conclusion: was God himself who accomplished it purposely in such a way everyone would know was God who obscured light of sun, prevented it from reaching earth

how possible – Gen. 1:3 (Day 1) vs Gen. 1:14ff (Day 4)

this darkness lasted 3 hours – 9th plague 3 days, intense darkness could be felt before 1st Passover, kept Egyptians in bed

Bible from beginning makes clear distinction between light and source – are not the same and… God has power over both

makes no difference to God what sun’s process of nucleosynthesis is doing – God does what he wills with light from it

closer to the point, though, more likely visible evidence of God himself present – but wait, thought God is light… true, no darkness in him

pillar of God’s presence a cloud and darkness to Egyptians (Ex. 14:20); God spoke at Sinai from midst of thick darkness (Deut. 5:22); Moses drew near thick darkness where God was (Ex. 20:21)

why done

angel told Joseph “you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matt. 1:21 – Jesus concurred: “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

stock answer to how Jesus saves us: wages of sin=death, he died so we wouldn’t have to, instead receive eternal life

but is more to it than simple fact of Jesus’ death – he was not martyred, not innocent victim of diabolical plot, not murdered

John 10:17-18 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.“No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”

given insight into what was taking place during darkness from other places in Bible:

2 Cor. 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Isa. 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Luke 22:42 “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

Isa. 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

the Father present, making Son sin for us by laying our iniquity on him, then pouring out full cup of wrath against that sin

as Son who upholds all things by powerful word trembled under awful weight of sin and wrath, earth itself shook in sympathy

Son endured that wrath, satisfied the Father’s wrath in full – did not die in process of it to leave us wondering: leftovers for us? something we still need to contribute?

only when Son had drunk full cup during darkness did he then declare “It is finished”, laid down his own life as voluntary sacrifice – saved his people from both wrath of God and penalty of death

C. He breathed His last v.46

4 hours till sunset

body must be buried before darkness returned – especially important since next day was Sabbath, no prior arrangements made… Jesus’ death total surprise to his followers

probably hoping Jesus would do as tormentors suggested: save himself… and them – he didn’t, they were nearly paralyzed, shock at what just happened, fear for what it meant, fear of Jewish leaders

darkness for Jesus included that of tomb

cannot fully wrap minds around this: incarnate Son of God, eternal God and mortal man united in one person with two natures buried in tomb

may have been surprise to Jesus’ followers but not to God – even allusion to place of burial in final Servant Song

real experience of physical death

like all the rest, this piece important for us too – is just as necessary to provide for and ensure complete salvation

what Jesus accomplished during 3-hour darkness sufficient to deliver us from fear of God’s wrath – Father poured it all out on Jesus, nothing left to be directed toward us

unless Jesus experienced death and conquered it, we have no hope – not where God leaves his children, though

Jesus has gone through darkness so we, his people, need not fear it. Remember psalmist: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psa. 23:4

more than that Jesus has experienced real death… and prevailed over it – even death itself should hold no terrors for us

Jesus’ confidence going in: would rise again third day Luk. 9:22, 18:33. He would succeed in his mission and his followers would make other followers; eventually would all be together with him in Father’s presence John 17:20-21.

Our world, even some of our families and relationships still invaded by darkness.

And the same is going on at this day: for every one forms to himself a God according to his own imaginations, under various kinds of a false worship of God, and each under a form of godliness: not to mention those open and atrocious blasphemies against God with which the world is wholly filled. Wherefore, there is the greateat need to pray that the Father may be glorified; that is, that he may be known by the preaching of the Gospel, and be thereby honoured as he desires and ought to be honoured; that all erroneous doctrines and false worshippings of God, together with all human traditions and dreams, may cease and be abolished; and that the Gospel alone may prevail and shine.” Luther on John 17

Luther was correct – there is need to pray God will be glorified in salvation of men, women, boys, girls. And there is need to be hands / feet / lips to carry love of Christ and message of Gospel to those who need it. Will be as the power of the Cross and what Christ accomplished there is applied to and active in our lives that we are effective servants of Christ, pushing back darkness with the Gospel.

 

Post Tenebras Lux – Men Loved Darkness

John 3:12-21, 36

Gen. 1:1-4     Psa. 107:10-15

“Post tenebras lux is a Latin phrase translated as Light After Darkness. It appears as Post tenebras spero lucem (“After darkness, I hope for light”) in the Vulgate version of Job 17:11-12

My days have passed away, my thoughts are dissipated, tormenting my heart. They have turned night into day, and after darkness I hope for light again. (Douay-Rheims)

Quotation from Job originally the motto of Geneva, Switzerland. One account has it that John Calvin during time there had it changed. The motto is engraved on the Reformation Wall in Geneva (William Farel (French evangelist and church planter). John Calvin (French theologian, pastor), Theodore Beza (French theologian and scholar), and John Knox (Scottish minister, theologian, and writer) – leaders of Protestant Reformation in France and Scotland.

1000-year period prior to 16th century when darkness gradually crept into and overtaken the church. Bible had receded into darkness, not readily available to people most of whom couldn’t read Latin. Tradition, things written about Bible took place of God’s word. Light of Reformation came from a return to Bible itself as the authority, made accessible to common people by men like John Wycliffe and William Tyndale, Martin Luther, translators of Geneva Bible and Authorized Versions. Truly great turning period in history, recovery of pure teaching from word of God once again being heard across Europe, eventually far beyond. Thanks to light of Reformation we know these truths well – tonight a refresher: remind us of our great debt and God’s great grace… and help us be ready to give answer for our hope when called on.

Darkness present in world long before early days of church, even before early days of history. “In the beginning… darkness was on the face of the deep.” God’s next act – speak light into existence in dark and chaotic world. First step in bringing order out of chaos, usefulness to universe just created was addition of light. Then God gave his evaluation of light: “God saw the light, that it was good”. Darkness returned to the world, not darkness of night but darkness associated with sin and God’s curse proclaimed in Garden of Eden.

Yet in darkness of the curse, God graciously included promise of light… One who would deal with ruler of darkness. The pair standing there in fig leaf clothes needed someone outside themselves to lift them out of their fallen condition – were powerless to do it themselves. Their very best efforts in no way adequate – God made abundantly clear from start. Those who are confident have no need for Savior bought same lie Eve did. Yet God’s plan of redemption continued to move forward.

A. so must the Son of Man be lifted up v.14

God came down

Jesus here using favorite term of self-identification: Son of Man, term that speaks volumes about person in view

easy to think simply referring to Jesus’ humanity – Son of God, Son of Man – not exactly how he used it: e.g., 3 other Gospels quote Jesus: “the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath”

here, v.13, claims Son of Man the one “who came down from heaven” – gave him the right and credibility to speak of heavenly things

this one, originally from heaven who stooped to come to earth, he and no other the one who must be somehow lifted up

he must do what man cannot

not simply something Son of Man can do, is necessary for him – formed basis of question to two on Emmaus road: “Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things?” Luke 24:26

first importance: necessary because that was Father’s plan… from before Creation / sin / Fall / curse / death (Eph. 1)

then was promise given in first Gospel… then to Abraham (Seed)… pictured in every blood sacrifice… then serpent

those facing certain death from snake-bite… really God’s punishment for rebellion… look at serpent lifted up, believing to do so would bring life

people could not save themselves from snake-bite, had no immunity or anti-venom – just as powerless to save from sin

take the death sentence

popular evangelism technique for many years: Romans Road, starting with Rom. 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; 10:9-10; 10:13

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”…

don’t need to wait until Romans for death sentence to be issued – Mosaic Law provides for varying degrees of seriousness

at same time, when considered from God’s POV, all sin large or small considered capital offense… from Garden on

and penalty for all sin by all individuals past, present, future must be paid to Father’s satisfaction – no amnesty, no commuting of sentence

is Son of Man who stands between death and life – only two outcomes given by Jesus: perishing / eternal life, belief / disbelief

only way Son can grant gift of eternal life: pay the penalty himself – if Son doesn’t pay, individual must… God’s perfect righteous justice will be satisfied

B. he who does not believe is condemned already v.18

no need for condemnation

Son did not come to condemn the world, and btw we shouldn’t either – is unnecessary and, for us, not helpful

also tells something about final judgment – for lost, will only be to hear sentence… verdict is already in… from birth

since Adam and Eve, all of those born by natural generation enter the world already sinful and condemned, need no further condemnation

great need for salvation

we know this, have experienced this, are small minority of world’s population – prayer requests heavily tilted toward needs

rightly so, because living in broken sin-corrupted world, affects all aspects of life – but don’t forget / overlook greatest need

C. men loved darkness v.19

root of the problem – darkness

not darkness present at creation, not that of night, darkness that pervades every man, woman, boy and girl to very heart

darkness of sin has corrupted every part of every person – some darker than others, all dark enough to be condemned

is darkness that blinds to spiritual truth, right path to follow to life – cannot see in the dark, want it to stay that way

no desire for light

not the source or basis of their condemnation, rather confirmation and evidence of what is already present

When the Bastille, a castle-like prison in Paris, was about to be destroyed in 1789, a convict was brought out who had been confined in one of its gloomy cells for many years. But instead of joyfully welcoming his liberty, he begged to be taken back. It had been such a long time since he had seen the sunshine that his eyes could not endure its brightness. His only desire was to die in the murky dungeon where he had been a captive.”

just like Bastille captive, unconverted people love their sin and want to stay in it – only a believer cries out “who will deliver me from this body of death?”

“This is the secret of infidelity. This is the reason of all opposition to Christ. It is love of sin! Trace it home to its den and lair, and you shall find that it is love of sin that breeds hatred of Christ. Men do not see because they do not want to see. They do not want to see too much lest they should be uneasy in their present state of life. So they kick against Christ and try to put out the Light of His Gospel, lest they be reproved by it.” Spurgeon

D. he who does not believe the Son shall not see life v.36

will not experience light

God will make sure they experience what they desire – want to live in darkness, want to live in sin, God says ok

whatever “light” they do enjoy confined to this life – “But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matt. 8:12; also Matt. 22:13; 25:30

will experience wrath

will endure just punishment of God without any relief, no intermission, no reduction in intensity or duration… ever

Bible uses pretty graphic language to describe hell – falls as far short of fully describing the horrors of hell as it does the glories of heaven

might wonder if God’s eternal wrath abiding on the lost is fair and just – think there’s darkness now, nothing like hell – no restraint whatever, never-ending cycle of continuous willful sin and God’s righteous judgment

unless…

is what every lost person without exception faces… unless acceptable substitute endures wrath of God in their place

Lord Jesus was facing that night – cup of God’s wrath emptied on Jesus, what he prayed if possible Father take away

not something even Jesus could endure and live – “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you”

the light that would come after darkness of death for Lord Jesus – resurrection and ascension – first, he must endure darkness

2 Cor 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ESV

That is hope of the Gospel, promise of light after darkness – because Jesus paid penalty in full for sin of his people, all who believe in him will have everlasting life. May God help us see greatness of our debt, greatness of God’s love and grace and mercy in satisfying that debt for us… and giving us desire and love for his light.