As Christians, we often don't give as much thought to the Lord's crucifixion as we should. Have you ever been in total darkness—where you couldn't see even the faintest pinprick of light?
My wife and I took a cave tour at Wonder World Park. It was fascinating! The guides wanted us to experience complete blackness and turned off the lights. For just a moment, we experienced what it was like to be totally blind.
In a spiritual sense, we are all born this way. We're blinded by our sin. We don't understand why things happen the way they do. Do you know people who repeatedly do things that harm them? Why would anyone start using "recreational" drugs? Yet, thousands, perhaps hundred of thousands, of people take drugs daily to have momentary pleasure, which often leads to devastating results. This is only one example of moral darkness. Billions of people walk around in the dark every day.
The Jews had a very narrow window of opportunity to give up their preconceived notions about Messiah being a political deliverer, one who would bring them health, wealth, and prosperity. But to do that, they needed to accept the fact that they were sinners walking in darkness. They needed to repent and believe in Jesus. Unfortunately, they didn't recognize their blindness.
In John 12:36, Jesus told them, "While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light."
If truth lights our way, it changes us. But the opposite is also true. We become what we do. Society doesn't truly understand this, but it's true. If we steal, we become thieves. If we lie, we become liars. If we drink excessively, we become alcoholics. If we give into our sweet tooth and eat everything under the sun, we become slaves to food. However, the opposite is also true.
If we respond to the light of Christ, we reflect that light. If we continue to embrace the things of this world, we'll continue to be children of this world. But if we embrace the light of Christ, we'll become increasingly Christlike.
Unfortunately, the crowd wasn't interested in what Jesus had to offer. They wanted their political Messiah. They wanted Rome to be defeated. They wanted to usher in an era of prosperity for the nation.
After speaking of the light, Jesus hid Himself from them. Jesus had entered Jerusalem and the temple in the most public way possible. Each day Jesus would come to the temple and perform miracles and teach. He would debate with the religious leaders. But instead of lifting up a scepter and shouting, "Death to Rome," He stated He had be lifted up to die.
After witnessing all of this, the crowd wasn't sure if they wanted a suffering savior. Jesus reminded them that, if they rejected His teaching, they would remain in darkness. They had a choice to make: believe in Jesus and be saved or reject Him and be lost in darkness. He then left them with that choice and went into seclusion.
I can't help but read this with a sense of closure. Except for the remaining words in chapter 12, what Jesus said to these Jews was essentially closing out His ministry with them. He'd said all He had to say. Israel had a choice to make: believe in the false teachers, the Pharisees, or believe in Jesus. Would they put their faith in the suffering Savior or would they cling to the idea of a military ruler?
For all intents and purposes, John 12 could end right there, a record of what Jesus did in His ministry, because the rest of the chapter is John's commentary on Jewish unbelief.
There are three points of application we can draw from this passage.
First, we must be careful how we question the Lord. We aren't to be like these Jews who defiantly challenged Jesus. Their minds were made up.
Essentially, the Jews said, "I've been in church all my life, I know what the Scriptures say."
Because of this attitude, they missed seeing the Light of the World standing right in front of them. We are to approach the Lord submissively, prayerfully, and patiently, with a heart to obey the truth.
Second, we must be willing to have Jesus confront our sins. The only way we can become more like the Light is to continually embrace it. It's one thing to read God's Word, be part of several small groups, listen to sermons, and just absorb biblical teaching. Are we applying what we learn? It's not wrong to do all these things, but we must let the truth change us. Are we letting it reveal our sin? Do we then repent and believe in Christ more today than we did yesterday?
Third, we must believe in Jesus while we still can. We can hear the urgency of this passage. Believe in Jesus today—because tomorrow may be too late! Remember what happened at the end of verse 36, after Jesus taught the crowd? He withdrew from them. There is no greater tragedy to have Jesus withdraw from you. Today is the day of salvation!
My words aren't all that important, but Jesus's are. Heed His words in John 14:6: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Do you believe He bore your punishment and died on the cross? Do you believe He rose again, victorious over sin and death? God is sovereign. He draws people to faith. But we have a responsibility to accept the Truth. I appeal to you to put your faith, hope, and trust in Christ as your Savior and Lord. If you do, you will truly walk in the Light.