Wednesday, July 8, 2015

When the Light Comes

Wednesday, July 8, 2015
After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee.  He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death.  But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles!  You can’t become famous if you hide like this!  If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!”  For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.  Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime.  The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil.  You go on.  I’m not going to this festival, because my time has not yet come.”  After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee.  John 7:1-9(NLT)
There’s a question that haunts me about Jesus’ brothers:  what was their reason for trying to goad Jesus into going to the festival?  Were they pushing him for good or evil?  Were they trying to get him started on God’s plan for the Kingdom….or were they just envious and wanted to see him go to Jerusalem to get clobbered by the Jewish rulers?

Well, the answer is simple enough; the text says it simply that even his brothers didn’t believe in him.  Sugar coat that as much as we might try, John the Gospel-writer is showing us the sin of Jesus’ brothers.  And the sin of unbelief by the brothers is no different than the unbelief of Pontius Pilate, Herod, and Judas.

Again, the words of Jesus are revealing; he said to his brothers that the world couldn’t hate them like the world hated him.  The reason is that the brothers were as steeped in unbelief, and as spiritually blind as the Jewish leaders who wanted to kill Jesus.

This is so much like the teaching of light and darkness.  John had earlier recorded a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus that wound up with the point that light and darkness never occupy the same place peacefully:

And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  John 3:19(NLT)

While I was in seminary we had the privilege of meeting the old Baptist evangelist, Vance Havner[2].  He was a favorite son of North Carolina, growing up in Jugtown, not far from the shadow of Grandfather Mountain.  The old man was so feeble when we met him he hobbled along on a cane, and had to sit, propped up at the pulpit to teach us aspiring young preachers.  But his voice was still strong, as was his mind.  It’s been more than 30 years, but I can still hear the raspy, hill-country sing-song in his delivery as he told us about light and darkness.  He said, when the light comes on, creepy, crawly things scatter!
Indeed; I believe Mr. Havner got that right from Jesus!

And this is why Jesus was at odds with the Jewish leaders, the Roman government, his own brothers and, at times, you and me.  The light of Jesus Christ illumines our darkness and we don’t like it…at all. 

We try to run from it.  His brothers despised him for it.  And the leaders of the temple crucified him because of it. 

We love darkness rather than heaven’s light.

But, like a good and responsible, mature parent does with a kicking, screaming, obnoxious child, the Father sent Jesus to bring us light, even when we preferred darkness. 

And he died to bring that light into our souls.

For You Today

Are there any creepy, crawly things in your life that need scattering?

Come close to the cross; let God turn on the light.

[1] Title image: By Ayesha Qaisrani, via Wikimedia Commons
[2] It’s just fine for me, as a Methodist preacher to use a reference to a Baptist evangelist; Havner had Methodist roots too!  See it at

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