"I am the light of the world" (John 8;12, NIV).
"Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep" (John 10:7, NIV).
Dear ICB family,
On December 6 we examined Jesus's claim to be the light of the world (John 8:12), and this past Sunday we looked at his claim to be the gate of the sheep (John 10:7). We've heard those phrases so often that we might not immediately perceive how unbelievable such claims actually sound.
Oh really, Jesus? You're as essential to the existence of life on this planet as the sun in our sky? You're the reality shining down on us that allows us to properly behold every other reality? You warm us from above, even when we're so busy that we rush through the day without once lifting our head to thank the sun? Your mere presence is capable of offering hope to a man who's been lost for days in a pitch black cavern deep beneath the surface of the earth? You split darkness like lightning splits the night's sky, and darkness flees from you? You're as pure and untainted and undefiled as light itself?
And, do you seriously mean for us to believe that if we want to enter into the Father's presence, you are the one and only gate through which a person must pass? There are no other gates that open up to freedom? All other gates lead to slavery? There is no sure provision promised for those who walk through other doors? The only hope for abundant life in this present age or in the age to come is only made to those who enter that life through you?
And Jesus would reply, of course, "Yes. And so much more." And we'd all probably fall backwards at his words.
These are the audacious claims that Jesus made, and these are the audacious claims that every last human being must come to terms with.
If his claims are true, then the question arises, Why aren't people flocking to him by the millions? Who chooses to remain in a dark corner of a room when even the tiniest candle is lit in the room's center? How could people know that life and light and hope and provision reside on the other side of the brilliant gate standing right in front of them yet still refuse to walk through it?
Earlier in his gospel, John gives us the answer: "[T]he light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19, ESV).
The light has come, and the gate has made himself known. Yet the reason we refuse to come to him is that we love the darkness rather than the light. Merely seeing the light with our eyes is not enough if we don't also love the light. As Pastor Marcus said, merely knowing that the door exists won't necessarily cause a person to walk through it. To come to the light we must love the light. To walk through the door, we must be drawn to trust the door's offer of what awaits us on the other side. If we don't come to him, it's mainly because we love the cover that the darkness on this side of the door affords us to continue concealing our secret sins, and to our condemnation, we love that darkness more than we love the one who will expose us by his radiant light for the sinners that we are and demand that we repent and find new life and hope in him. That's true for us, and it's true for the lost around us.
So right along with eyes that are able to see Jesus as the great, bright light of the world and as the only gate for the sheep, may we also have hearts that love him more than we love the cover of darkness and all that we hide in its shadow. Then we'll not only see him. We'll run to him. And praise our Father he hasn't turned away a single soul who has ever come running.
Praying for renewed sight and for renewed love of what that sight allows you to see,