Darkness

It was a cold kiss.
Oddly enough, just as the crowds began turning away from Jesus, some of the leaders began to turn in His direction. It would take great courage for any of them to take a stand for Jesus and against the powerful Pharisees. They would lose everything. They would be excommunicated, thrown out of the fellowship of their synagogues at home and the Temple in Jerusalem. And what would they gain by such a rebellion? Nothing, to their minds, worth the cost it would exact. The whole system was based on pleasing the elders, the priests, and the Pharisees. The praise of men was sweet, immediate, and gratifying. Pleasing God was secondary in their hearts. It was wonderful to think of a Messiah moving among them with miracles in His wake. What they needed was one who could do all that and still submit to the Pharisees. That prospect was not only unlikely, it was preposterous! The love of these leaders was a cold kiss indeed.

The Grief of a Messiah Rejected
Jesus saw it all happening just as the prophets had predicted. People who once were lame, now walked away from Him. Those who once could not hear anything, now listened and rejected what they heard. Some who been blind before Jesus healed them could no longer see their way clear to follow Him. Lepers who once were outcasts now gathered with friends to discuss their disappointment in Jesus.

The Costs of Rejection
All the while, Jesus knew that there was more at stake for the people than their acceptance or rejection of Him. When they turned away from Him, they were turning away from the Father, they One He had instructed them to pray to each day.

“He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me.
And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.”

The Father was the source of life, of everything good in this world. To turn away from Him was to turn toward death, a turn to a path that seemed right but in the end was the way of death. This rejection resulted in a preference for darkness over light.

“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me
should not abide in darkness.”

The darkness was deep and impenetrable. There was no escaping the hidden pitfalls and traps on the dark road. It was more than danger, it was death. And after the death came judgment.

“He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him
— the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”

The Authority of Jesus
The crowds slipped away. The interest of the leaders cooled. A few faithful ones stayed with Jesus and something else remained with Him—the authority of His words.

“For I have not spoken on My own authority;
but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command,
what I should say and what I should speak.
And I know that His command is everlasting life.”

Though the actual sound of His voice faded away, the authority of His Words remains in effect even to this day.

Scriptures:
John 12: 42-50

Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Your words do not age. They are as fresh and powerful today as they were when You first uttered them. Your instructions are clear. Your promises are sure. Your love is constant and unchanging. The Light You bring defeats any darkness that falls across my path. Your voice sounds sweetly, deep in my spirit. I know it is the witness of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness that I am Your child, treasured by You always. I know that Your “command is everlasting life.” Amen.

Song:
The Church’s One Foundation

Words: S. J. Stone; Music: Samuel S. Wesley

1. The church’s one Foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord;
she is His new creation, by water and the Word;
from heav’n He came and sought her to be His holy bride;
with His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.

2. Elect from ev’ry nation, yet one o’er all the earth,
her charter of salvation, one Lord, one faith, one birth;
one holy Name she blesses, partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses, with ev’ry grace endued.

3. Tho’ with a scornful wonder, men see her sore oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping, their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song.

4. The church shall never perish! Her dear Lord, to defend,
to guide, sustain, and cherish, is with her to the end;
tho’ there be those that hate her and false sons in her pale,
against the foe or traitor she ever shall prevail.

5. ‘Mid toil and tribulation, and tumult of her war,
she waits the consummation of peace for evermore;
till with the vision glorious her longing eyes are blest,
and the great church victorious shall be the church at rest.

6. Yet she on earth hath union with God the Three in One,
and mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we,
like them, the meek and lowly, on high may dwell with Thee.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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