Choose the Light

Posted: March 12, 2017 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 11:29-36, “Choose the Light”

Every parent has seen it: that look on a toddler’s face when he/she absolutely refuses to obey. Those cute little cheeks get red with anger, and all of their rebellion comes pouring out their lungs.  Of course, it is the will of the parent that wins out in the end – although everyone might be well-exhausted by the time they get there.

Some people try to do the same thing with God.  They want their way at whatever cost, and they stamp their feet & shut their ears to any word from the Lord other than what they want.  Yet no one can outlast the patience of the infinite God, and everyone eventually stands before Him for judgment.  And likewise, it is the will of God that wins in the end.  He graciously gives us opportunity after opportunity in this life to surrender to His will…sadly, many refuse to do so.

That was the case with many of the Jews and Pharisees of Jesus’ day.  Jesus had done an incredible amount of ministry among them, yet many refused to believe Him.  They made a willful choice to reject His teaching and acts, demanding that He do things their way.  In essence, they wanted Jesus to bow to their authority, rather than admit that Jesus had the true authority as the Son of God.

That’s what Luke shows in the current context.  Jesus had performed a miracle, casting a demon out of man who had been driven mute (and possibly blind) by the demon.  What should have been a cause for rejoicing was a cause for controversy as people objected to Jesus’ actions.  They accused Him of being empowered by Beelzebub (Satan) in order to cast out demons.  If Satan told demons to leave, they’d have to leave, so in their minds that’s exactly what the devil empowered Jesus to do.  Of course, it was completely illogical considering that Satan would be tearing down his own kingdom & he (though being evil) is far more clever than that.  When Jesus cast out demons, it was by the power and authority of God, and the proof was in the true cleansing.  When Jesus comes into a person’s life, there’s no room for the devil – Jesus is infinitely stronger!

In addition to their absurd accusation was a request for a sign of Jesus’ authority to do these things, and it’s that which Jesus next addresses.  Their request was itself a sign of their own stubborn unbelief.  They needed to make the choice to receive Jesus – a choice they were as of yet unwilling to make.  What choice will you make?

Luke 11:29–36

  • The sign of Jonah (29-32)

29 And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.

  • Although we cannot state it with absolute certainty, it seems that the previous episode with the demon (and resulting accusation) attracted quite a crowd.  (It’s possible that the timeline changed at this point, but not likely.)  There had already been a woman among the crowd who spoke up, and with Jesus’ gentle correction of her, people continued to gather round.  More and more people came to witness the happenings.  We might think that Jesus would use this to His advantage, and spell out the gospel in the clearest possible terms.  This was the time to break out the evangelistic tracts and walk people through the 4 Laws step-by-step, right?  Not Jesus.  He wasn’t interested in quick converts; He wanted sincere ones.  That meant He needed to discern whether or not people were ready for the good news of the gospel.  In this case, they weren’t.  Their hearts were still hard with pride, and that needed to be addressed before anything else.
    • Question: Couldn’t Jesus have simply led them in a quick prayer of salvation?  After all, the crowds were there, listening to Him already.  No.  Prayer is wonderfully helpful in coming to Christ, but no one is saved by prayer.  We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus. (Eph 2:8-9)  Anyone can mutter a prayer or recite words that talk of faith in Jesus, without actually having faith in Jesus.  For that, we need sincerity & singleness of heart.  And that was lacking among the crowd.  Their hearts were filled with skepticism & pride, so they weren’t yet ready for the gospel.  As the Scripture says, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (Jas 4:6)
  • If the crowd wasn’t yet ready for the good news, what did Jesus give them?  The bad news.  They were “an evil generation.”  Evil!  Not “flawed” – not “messed up” – not “sometimes good, sometimes bad” – but evil, wicked, worthless, degenerate.  This same word is used elsewhere as a description of the devil, the “wicked one.”  That’s how bad this generation was: they were devilishly evil.  That’s bad!  And that’s a difficult message for people to hear (much more to preach!).  With the crowd thickly increasing around Him, Jesus didn’t candy-coat anything or try to win friends.  He told the truth.  Sometimes the truth hurts.  People don’t want to be reminded of their sin (our sin).  They don’t want to hear of the reality of going to hell without Jesus.  They don’t want to be told of their guilt before God, and how they bear evil.  But that’s the truth, and it must be said if anyone is to seek salvation.  No one takes medicine if they don’t believe they’re sick.  No one seeks help if they never realize they are in danger.
    • Yet this is often what modern church growth techniques and/or evangelism methods do.  They are designed to make people feel good…so good that they never realize change is required.  They make people feel comfortable…comfortable enough to remain in their sin and unbelief.  That doesn’t build a church so much as leave people in death.  Do we want to feel at home in church?  Sure!  We want to have fun & enjoy our abundant life with God.  But we never want to be comfortable in sin.  A gospel that never offends isn’t the true gospel at all.  Jesus is a stone of stumbling & a rock of offense. (1 Peter 2:8)  At some point, those who attempt to continue to sin against Him will be tripped up by Him or His teachings.  They will be offended…which is the very thing that will cause them to see the goodness of God and repent.  Offense isn’t always a bad thing; it is often the natural result of the gospel. (And that is good news!)
    • What about you?  Is God calling you out as evil?  Has His word cut you to the heart lately?  Don’t run from that offense & conviction; respond to it in humility & faith!
  • What was it that caused Jesus to label the crowd as an evil generation?  They requested “a sign.”  Remember that this had come in response to Jesus’ exorcism of a demon out of a mute man.  Although some among the multitudes marveled (11:14); others objected.  Matthew identifies them as Pharisees, who insisted that the only way Jesus was able to cast out demons was by His own submission to the prince of demons.  As bad as that was, their objections didn’t stop there.  They also demanded that Jesus produce a sign from heaven, authenticating His authority to do such things (11:16).  As we saw last week, this was absolutely absurd.  Jesus just gave them a sign of His authority to cast out demons: He cast out another demon!  What more did they want Him to do?!  He couldn’t demonstrate any more power over demons apart from personally taking down Satan in a boxing match in full view of the crowds!  Keep in mind that by no means was this Jesus’ first exorcism.  His ministry was widely known for this sort of thing, including casting 5000+ out of a single man at one time.  He also healed the sick, raised the dead, and multiplied bread & fish for well over 5000 men (not counting women and children).  There was no lack of heavenly signs among Jesus’ ministry!  The land of Israel hadn’t seen this many miracles since the days of Elijah!
  • So why did the Pharisees demand a sign?  Stubbornness – pride – rebellion – unbelief.  They didn’t want Jesus to be the Messiah sent by God, so they invented every excuse possible.  Just as with their accusation of Jesus being with Beelzebub, their problem regarding a sign was not due to a lack of evidence, but a lack of will.  They simply refused to change their mind.  They refused to believe.
    • What did it take for you to believe?  For some people, they came to faith at their very first opportunity.  Others of us resisted for a time.  What was your excuse?  Maybe you didn’t want to change your lifestyle.  Maybe you didn’t want to risk your reputation.  Maybe you didn’t want to admit your own sinfulness & need.  Whatever it was, there was one thing all of us had in common: a lack of will.  In the end, we didn’t believe because we chose not to believe.  We may have been blind at one point, but when confronted with Jesus & His gospel, the only way we remained in unbelief was by choosing to stay there.  Everyone chooses their reaction to God, be it faith or rebellion.
    • Objection: “What about predestination?  What about God’s sovereign role in our salvation?”  What of it?  No matter where you stand on Calvinism, Arminianism, or any “ism” in-between, we still have a choice to make in our response to God.  How it all fits together from eternity past is something that is hotly debated.  How humans are to respond in the present is not.  Whatever happens from God’s perspective, the only thing we can experience is what happens in our perspective.  And humans have to make the choice to believe in Jesus, or we are not saved.  We must, at some point, exercise our will.
    • What have you decided regarding Jesus?  Have you chosen to believe, or are you still stubbornly waiting for signs from heaven?  What more do you expect God to do in order for you to believe?  He has already gone as far as can be gone: from heaven to earth – from infinite glory to human incarnation.  He can go no further, nor does He need to.  The choice is up to you.
  • Nevertheless, the Jews/Pharisees of that generation sought an additional sign.  In their minds, what Jesus had already done wasn’t enough, so they requested more.  Jesus promised them only one: “the sign of Jonah the prophet.”  He explained more in verse 30…

30 For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation.

  • What was the sign of Jonah?  According to Luke’s telling, it was Jonah himself.  “Jonah became a sign…”  Matthew’s account fills in a few more details, pointing more directly to the prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection. Matthew 12:39–40, "(39) But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. (40) For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."  At first glance, Jonah would seem to be a terrible analogy to Jesus.  Jonah ran from the Lord, placed other people in danger, said as little to the Ninevites as possible, waited for their destruction, and then threw a temper tantrum when it didn’t happen.  For a prophet of God, Jonah certainly wasn’t a very good example to follow!  Yet this rogue prophet was the very person Jesus used as a sign – and it was specifically what happened as a result of Jonah’s disobedience to which Jesus pointed.  When Jonah was swallowed by the great fish, it was as if he was swallowed by the grave.  In fact, Jonah uses precisely that terminology, saying that it was from the “belly of Sheol” that he cried out to the Lord. (Jon 2:2)  For Jonah to be in that place for three days and three nights was for him to be counted as totally dead, from a cultural standpoint.  This was beyond sickness & unconsciousness – this was death.  And yet Jonah came out of that place.  When it was time, and the fish had swum from the deep of the Mediterranean Sea to the coast of Syria (most likely), God told the fish to vomit Jonah onto dry land, and that is what it did. (Jon 2:10)  That event, as amazing (and disgusting!) as it was, was the very thing to which Jesus pointed as the singular sign to this evil generation.  When Jesus came up out of the heart of the earth after three days, being fully dead, that was the sign to all the world of Jesus’ true authority as the Messiah & Son of God.  The Pharisees (and others) ignored everything else Jesus had done, but they couldn’t ignore that.  When that took place, the last excuse of this evil generation would be taken away.  Again, they would be faced with the choice of whether or not to believe.
  • Question: If the resurrection of Jonah is so important, why didn’t Luke specifically point it out like Matthew did?   Actually, it can be argued that he did.  Some scholars try to find ways of making the preaching of Jonah into the sign of which Jesus spoke, but notice that Jesus never points out anything that Jonah said.  It wasn’t Jonah’s preaching that was a sign to the Ninevites; it was Jonah himself.  Look again at verse 30: “For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation.”  Nothing here is said about Jonah’s word, or the incredible rate of conversion and repentance seen among the Ninevites.  It was Jonah who became a sign.  How was Jonah the sign?  By his very presence after being left for dead in the belly of the fish.  There was a reason that the people of Nineveh paid so close attention to the preaching of Jonah.  It wasn’t due to his eloquence, as he barely said anything.  Only one sentence of his sermon is recorded in the Bible, and not even that said much.  But people heard him, and feared God.  Why?  Because Jonah’s God was greater than their god.  One of the many gods worshipped by the Assyrians (Ninevites) was Dagon, the fish god.  For a Hebrew prophet to be swallowed up by a great fish would have been music to their ears.  For the fish to obey the God of Israel and spit the prophet back out again would have terrified them to their core!  The God of Israel had power over all the gods of the Ninevites – the God of Israel had power over death itself.  Thus a living, breathing Jonah (though stained & smelly) would have been a powerful sign among the Ninevites – even if he never said a single word.
  • Likewise, so the Son of Man would be a sign to the current generation.  Jesus’ preaching was incredibly important.  His healing miracles were amazing.  His displays of power were astounding.  But nothing would stand out to the people like the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  The resurrection is the coup de grace – it is the supreme of all miracles, standing head & shoulders above anything else ever done by Jesus.  The resurrection changes everything!  It was the resurrection to which Peter pointed on the day of Pentecost as the proof that the Jerusalem Jews had crucified their Messiah. (Acts 2:36)  It was the resurrection to which Paul appealed to the Athenians that they could know that the Christian gospel was true. (Acts 17:30-31)  It was the resurrection that Paul wrote to the Romans as the very declaration that Jesus is none other than the Son of God. (Rom 1:4)  The resurrection is not merely one of many important signs about Jesus – it is the sign.  Other miracles could be claimed as just another miracle among many, such as what was performed by Moses or Elijah.  The resurrection stands apart.  Jesus alone is risen from the dead, alive by His own power, never to die again.  The resurrection is proof that Jesus is exactly who He claimed to be: God.
  • But again, this is something that needs to be believed.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ truly happened – it is a historical fact.  The evidence supporting it is amazingly abundant.  Even so, we must be willing to believe it.  Those who are unwilling will remain in their unbelief, no matter how much evidence is placed in front of them.
  • As for this generation, Jesus realized that many (if not most) of them would choose to remain in unbelief, and would face condemnation and judgment.  He went on to give two examples of those who would stand against them.  Vs. 31…

31 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.

  • The “queen of the South” is the famous queen of Sheba. (1 Kings 10)  Where exactly she came from is somewhat debated – most scholars believe it to be either Ethiopia or Yemen.  Either way, she travelled great distances to witness the riches and wisdom of Solomon for herself.  She came specifically to test him with difficult questions, and found that it was impossible to stump him. There was nothing Solomon could not explain.  (1 Kings 10:1-3)  This wasn’t Solomon being a know-it-all; this was the wisdom of God gifted to him, and God’s hand upon him was readily evident.  In fact, so impressed was the queen of Sheba that this Gentile queen gave credit and glory to the Hebrew God, even calling Him by His covenant name: 1 Kings 10:9, "Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness."  How wise was Solomon?  So wise that the abundance of his wisdom was actually evidence to this Gentile that the God of Israel was real.  So much that she seems to have come to faith!
  • The point?  If the queen of Sheba could give glory to YHWH God for Solomon, why could the current generation of Jews not do the same for Jesus?  If the Gentile queen could see the hand of God upon David’s son, how was it that Pharisees did not recognize the ultimate Son of David in front of them?  Someone far “greater than Solomon” was there at that moment, and the Pharisees were willfully blind to him.  Surely they would face a great condemnation!
  • And that wouldn’t be the only condemnation they would receive.  Vs. 32…

32 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.

  • Even the “men of Nineveh” would condemn the Pharisees and other Jews who rejected Jesus.  Truly this was a biting fact!  The Ninevites were the Assyrians who brutally conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and who were desperately hated by the Hebrews.  The ancient prophet Jonah was the only one who wished them dead…surely that sentiment ran rampant throughout his entire nation!  Yet these Ninevites could justly condemn the Pharisees and Jews of Jesus’ day.  How so?  “They repented at the preaching of Jonah.”  Jonah showed up smelling of fish & stomach acid, and reluctantly (and barely!) preached to his enemies.  He said the bare minimum of what God gave him, and no more.  In fact, the Bible records a single sentence: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh will be overthrown!” (Jon 3:4)  There’s no opportunity of mercy – no appeal for repentance – no hint of grace.  All Jonah gave was a proclamation of their destruction, seemingly not evening mentioning the Lord God by name – perhaps out of fear that some of the people would turn to God in faith.
  • Of course, that is exactly what they did.  The entire city, from king to peasant, humbled themselves before God praying for His mercy.  Much to Jonah’s chagrin, God gave it.  They truly “repented at the preaching of Jonah.”  They changed their actions & their attitudes, and sought the Lord due to the proclamation of God’s prophet among them.
  • Once again, this was reason for condemnation, for a far greater Prophet than Jonah was among the Jews.  Jesus preached far more sermons in far greater detail than Jonah ever did.  Jesus proclaimed the truth of God clearly, speaking of the coming kingdom and the need for people to repent and seek the Lord in humility and faith.  And of course, Jesus gave untold numbers of miracles to back up his words.  If the pagan Ninevites repented at Jonah, the Jewish Pharisees had absolutely no excuse not to do the same.  They had Jesus, and willfully, rebelliously shut their eyes.
    • We have even less excuses today!  At least the Pharisees at the time had not yet witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.  At least they hadn’t yet had the full canon of Scripture given to them.  At least they hadn’t witnessed scores of lives transformed by the resurrected Christ.  Our generation has all of those things.  We have no excuse not to believe.
    • Objection: “But I have great excuses!  If you only knew how Christians treated me, you wouldn’t believe either!”  There’s no doubt that many Christians have failed.  They haven’t lived up to the standard set by Jesus, and I am personally no exception.  Sometimes Christians not only fail, we massively screw up and sour any possibility for people to see Jesus in us.  It’s sad, but it’s the truth.  Even so, it’s still not an excuse.  The failure of Christians to rightly represent Christ is no excuse for others not to believe in Christ.  No one forced you to sin against God in your life – no one twisted your arm forcing you to rebel against Him, to love the things He hates & hate the things He loved.  No one is responsible for your sin except you.  Thus you still need forgiveness – you still need grace.  Whether or not you see Jesus living in the people around you, you can still see Jesus in the pages of Scripture.  You still know the prompting and conviction of the Holy Spirit showing you your need.  You still have the pure unadulterated witness of creation all around you, testifying to its perfect Creator.  You, like everyone else of past generations, have no excuse not to believe.  So believe!
  • This generation of the Jews hadn’t believed.  There were some exceptions, such as the 12 apostles, the women who followed Jesus, and others – but by & large, they had blinded themselves to the evidence in front of them.  The light of the gospel had shone down upon them, and they shut their eyes.  This is the context of Jesus’ parable in vs. 33…
  • The parable of the lamp (33-36)

33 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light.

  • This wasn’t the first time Jesus gave this teaching.  Matthew records the parable in the Sermon on the Mount, broken up in two different sections.  Does that mean Luke simply inserted the teaching here for thematic purposes, or did Jesus repeat it at this time, though neither Matthew nor Mark record the repetition?  It’s difficult to say, though it would not have been unusual for Jesus to repeat the teaching.  After all, it fit.  This was entirely appropriate to what had happened among the evil unbelieving generation of the Jews.  Jesus is the light of the world, and although He walked among them, they chose not to see Him.  The light of Christ was put under a basket.  The apostle John put it this way: John 1:9–12, "(9) That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. (10) He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. (11) He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. (12) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name."  Most of His own people shut their eyes to His glorious light – but those who didn’t received life.  The same principle is true of us & our generation today!
  • One thing that’s interesting about Matthew’s context in contrast to Luke’s is that Matthew records Jesus saying this about those who believe in Him.  Jesus told the people that they were the salt of the earth & the light of the world.  Light isn’t meant to be hid; it’s meant to be shown, so they were to let their light so shine among men that other people would glorify God. (Mt 5:13-16)  In Luke’s context, this is not an exhortation to those who believe, but a condemnation of those who did not.  They were the ones putting the light of Christ in a secret place.  They were the ones shoving the lamp under a basket.  When the Pharisees accused Jesus of working under the authority of Satan, they were undermining the real work of God.  They were discrediting and defaming the Holy Spirit.  They were an obstruction to the gospel – something which Jesus would address in more detail later on in Chapter 11.  That’s the opposite of the way we should be.  As believers, we want to be in the context of Matthew; not Luke.  We want to be transparent with the light of Christ, not obstructing a single ray from being seen by others.  We sometimes tell our kids, “You make a better door than a window,” and it’s not much different with us.  We need to make sure we get out of the way, so that people can see Jesus.
    • What does that mean, practically?  Obviously we aren’t to sit still & do nothing.  Again, even Matthew’s context shows that people are to see our good works, in order for them to glorify God. (Mt 5:16)  So we are to be active – we’re to use the gifts and personality that God has given us.  We’re supposed to be the men and women of God that He has created us to be – and that’s the key.  Who does God intend for you to be?  What does He want you to do?  How does He want to you to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God? (Mic 6:8)  Our culture would tell us: “Just be yourself, and don’t worry about anything else.”  I don’t want to just be myself, if “myself” is who I was before I came to faith in Christ!  That isn’t me anymore.  As a born-again Christian, neither is that you.  In Christ, you are a new creation, so be that person.  Be who God made you, empowered by the Spirit God gave you.  If you do that, there’s no question the light of Jesus will shine brightly!

34 The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.

  • This was also taught in the Sermon on the Mount, though later on, in a section where Jesus taught about laying up treasure in heaven, and the inability to serve two masters. (Mt 6:19-24)  Thematically, it fits perfectly here.  The Pharisees and others had shut their eyes to the light of Christ, thus they had allowed their whole bodies to be filled with darkness.
  • The description that Luke & Matthew each record Jesus using is interesting.  English translations typically say “good/bad,” or “healthy/bad,” with the implication that “bad” is unhealthy.  And that is not an inaccurate translation at all.  But both words go deeper than that.  There were other words for “good/bad” that were far more common if the gospel writers had desired to use them.  The words used here speak to far more than mere physical health.
    • Good”: The KJV translates this as “single,” which (though a bit awkward in the phrasing) is actually very accurate.  One Greek dictionary (BDAG) defines the term as “pertaining to being motivated by singleness of purpose so as to be open and aboveboard.”  It is to be “without guile, sincere, straightforward.”  Another (NIDNTT) defines it as “single, simple, sincere.”  This is exactly what was lacking among the objecting Jews and Pharisees.  They didn’t have sincere hearts in regards to Jesus.  They claimed a devotion to God, to guard His holiness through being wary of Jesus’ power over demons – but in reality they had a false piety, being divided among themselves and attempting to cause divisions among those who might put their faith in Christ.  Those who are sincere in their response to Jesus receive the fullness of the light of His gospel.  That wasn’t the Pharisees.
    • Bad”: Interestingly, the KJV also translates this differently, and perhaps more accurately, as “evil.”  This term is the exact same term used earlier in vs. 24 when Jesus labeled the Pharisees and Jews as an “evil generation.”  To be sure, context determines meaning, and in a context speaking of physical ailments, the word could refer to poor quality or some unhealthy condition.  The double-meaning was not lost upon the Lord in the teaching analogy.  The unhealthy eye was an evil eye, filling a heart with darkness.
  • So put it together.  What was needed was sincerity of faith (good eye/healthy eye); what was found was evil wickedness on the level of Satan (bad eye/unhealthy).  The difference was profound.  It was the difference between light & darkness – between life and death.

35 Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.”

  • How could light be darkness? (Vs. 35)  Think of a light with a dimmer switch.  Some light is vastly brighter than others.  The broader point is whether or not the Pharisees let any light into their lives at all.  If the light has been hidden, or shut out, then what else is left besides darkness?  But notice: that’s something that can be chosen.  Jesus tells them to “take heed…” – to watch out, be careful.  This is something to which they could pay attention – in fact, Jesus commanded them to do so.
    • Once again, this comes down to a matter of the will.  What does a person choose to do in response to Jesus?  Will he shut his eyes in willful disobedient “skepticism,” or will he/she open his/her eyes in sincere faith?  This is a choice we must make.
    • The problem is that many people choose the darkness.  They love the darkness, so they embrace it.  John 3:19–20, "(19) And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed."  People don’t want to be told that their sin is an offense to God & leads to death, and they would rather stay in their ignorance than come to grips with the truth.  But the truth doesn’t change.  Truth doesn’t stop being truth simply because we don’t want to believe it.  No matter how much a person doesn’t want to believe in gravity, they’re going to fall the moment they step off a cliff.  When they jump up, they will come back down, regardless how passionately they believe they can fly.  Truth is truth.  And Jesus is the truth.  He has given the light of God, and that light must be received if we are to be saved.
  • What happens when the light is received?  It lights up the whole body!  One thing that’s interesting here is that the Greek word used for “light” changes.  The root word had been consistent throughout this entire passage until it comes to this last phrase, “as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.”  At that point, it changes.  ESV & NASB talk about the bright illuminating “rays” of the lamp, which get a bit closer.  The word used is most commonly translated in the NT as “lightning.”  Have you ever watched a thunderstorm roll in the distance?  Although the activity is miles away, when the lightning flashes, the entire sky is lit for a brief moment.  You might not even hear the thunder, but it still looks like a camera flash in the sky.  It’s that bright.  How bright is the light of Christ in the life of someone who receives Him by faith?  Like lightning…with one exception.  It’s not there for a flash & then gone – it remains.  The person who knows Jesus by faith knows His light, and His light lasts into eternity!
    • Have you seen the light of Jesus?  Do you know the goodness of what He offers?  You can.

Conclusion:
Jesus had done so much among the people of His day, and yet so many rejected Him.  How tragic & sad!  No matter how many demons He cast out – no matter how many people were healed, the Pharisees and others were so stubborn in their sin, absolutely refusing to believe.  They chose their unbelief, and their choice would be the death of them.

They asked for a sign, and although Jesus had already done much, He promised them one: His resurrection.  That event would be proof beyond proof that He is the Son of God, and that we need to believe in Him to be saved.  Those who did would receive the light of God & live eternally – those who didn’t would be forever lost in darkness and death.  The choice was up to them.

It’s up to us, too.  We can choose to respond to Jesus…we must choose to respond to Him.  Many people demand that God meet them on their terms, just like the Jews of Jesus’ day demanded additional signs from Him.  “God, do this in my life, and then I’ll believe You’re real!”  “Perform this miracle, and then I’ll give You my life!”  It doesn’t work that way.  God is God & we’re not.  He has already presented all of the evidence that we need to respond to Him.  In fact, He’s gone up & beyond.  He went so far as to send His only begotten Son to the cross to suffer and die for the sins you committed, to die in your place.  And then He goes beyond that to freely offer you life through the resurrection life of His Son.  And then we have the gall to ask for more?!  Heaven forbid!

If your life is filled with darkness, make the choice to respond to Jesus.  Turn to Him in sincerity and truth, and place your hope, faith, and trust in Him.  Believe upon Him as your one and only hope, for that is exactly who He is.

To those who have already received the light of Christ, how much of it is radiating out of your life?  How much can be seen by others?  For that matter, how much can be seen by you?  An amazing aspect about lightning is how the whole sky is lit up from a single bolt.  The radiant light of the gospel is something that ought to touch every single aspect of your life.  Is there an area you’ve kept in the darkness?  Is there a part of your life that you’ve hid away as being “off limits” to God?  Bring it into the light.  Let Jesus transform that, just as much as He has transformed everything else.  Likewise you’ve got a choice to make…make it today.

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