This sermon was preached in Honduras in July 2016.
Today we will be discussing light and life, let’s begin.
John 1:1-5 reads
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
We will be discussing this life and this light. First, the life.
In Genesis we see God create the heavens and the earth, plants, animals and finally humans. We also see Satan tempt Eve into the first sin. And in Genesis 3 verses 17 through 19 we see the fall of both man and all of nature from God’s presence. And it is here we see that simply enough it is only 1 sin, not dozens or hundreds even, just one single sin is enough to break our communion with God and cause us to change our trajectory into eternal separation from God.
“And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Going to Genesis 3 verse 21 God sacrifices the first blood to create clothing for Adam and Eve. The first blood sacrifice to cover man’s sin.
“And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”
And in Leviticus we see the prescribed blood sacrifice of animals to continue covering for man’s sins. Why did God use this system as a means of atonement for sin?
Now to discuss the light. In Genesis 1:2
“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” We see that God existed and that there was no earth and darkness was over the face of the deep. This darkness in Hebrew has a double meaning of devoid of light AND death or devoid of life. The next verse shows God bringing light to the darkness. “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” Darkness is not actually a substance, it is merely the absence of light. When the light is present, all darkness disappears. The Hebrew word for light means light-as we see it and know it- but it also means to make luminous or make known what hasn’t been known before. Paul wrote to the church in Rome that the wages of sin are death. The death here is also a double meaning. In Greek it means to remove the soul from the body, which leads us to another conversation about death being only a step in the existence of a soul. It also means separation of man from his being, his existence, his soul, and away from God. God created humans to exist and live to worship him. That is our sole purpose in life. God is completely holy, though, and cannot look upon or be in the presence of sin. So our sin literally killed our chances of being able to worship God face-to-face. Instead, we had created an eternal chasm or Canyon in which we could never cross on our own. God saw all of this the Instant he created us, giving us free will. But why would he create humans knowing that we would choose to turn away from him? I believe that this question worded like this shows our inability to be holy. It’s the same kind of question a child asks when you tell them they can’t have a cookie from a batch that you just baked. Because in their heart, they’ve already eaten one of them, they feel that they must satisfy the desires of their flesh. So God chose to create us anyways. But he did not make us robots, without choice to turn around and worship him. Instead, he set us free to choose to love and worship him. And we also can’t fully understand The ways of God.
Let’s go back to life now. So God chose to use the skin, and by default the blood, of an animal to cover Adam and Eve. This is the imagery that both intrigues us and haunts us. As a modern, non-Jewish culture, we lose this imagery. So let’s look at sacrifice for a moment. Let’s say you have 12 chickens at home. They lay collectively about 15 eggs per day. They eat bugs in your yard. They can be sold for money or traded for other goods you might need. And then you go to church and God asks you to bring your best chicken, cut off it’s head, and burn it at an altar. Would this be an easy task? For most, no, but some some it is unfathomable. Furthermore, think of the smells, sounds, sights of the church each day, each week, each month, year after year of not just your chicken but all the people’s different animals being sacrificed. The church would be a very different place than the one we know right now. But God ordained this process to help the Jews understand, day in and day out, that our sins stink. Both to him and to us.
As soon as Adam and Eve took the for bidden fruit they saw that they were naked, nude, vulnerable. God created us to be vulnerable and in an intimate relationship with him. But when they sinned, their eyes turned from God to themselves. And Gods eyes, although now from a great distance, never turned from us. He began to enact his great love scheme for us. You see, the skin holds in the blood. The blood is life, and in Hebrew it also means respect for life itself. So once we lost our nakedness with God, our vulnerability, he created another way by the innocent life blood and vulnerability or skin of the animals that they sacrificed. But this process was overwhelming to the senses as well as short-lived. But God then sent his only son, Jesus, to put on our skin and live a blameless life. Through Jesus’ perfect life he regained the innocence and vulnerability of the human flesh, but only in himself. And when he shed his blood on the cross, his blood became the last, ultimate sacrifice. His blood sacrifice reconnected both our flesh, our intimate relationship, and our blood, our very life existence from the darkness of our death, back to God through his own son. And it is in this moment that we see God’s master plan. He did create us with the choice to love him or to not love him. But we see that his love for us remains throughout. And when our bad choices left us distant and disconnected he made another way. So even still, the wages of sin are death. But the free gift of God is eternal life IN Christ Jesus our Lord. So we cannot cross the chasm by ourselves. And because of His atonement and propitiation (substitution on our behalf) he has reconnected those who put Him as Lord of their life back to God. For all sins. Of all people. Of all time. And when we have that relationship with Him, He will present us to His father in heaven as clean, pure and presentable because of His payment for our sins on the cross. Christ’s perfect life defeated sin in us, and his death and resurrection defeated death for us.
Going back to light and dark. God is light, and is the creator of all life. Light is life, darkness is death. When we think about sins, many times they happen in the darkness, in the recessed corners of our mind. That is where the threads of sin begin forming. Satan temps us in our head every day. Many times our sins are not exposed to others because they’re in the darkness of our own minds. But when we see the light of God, his pure holiness, all things are revealed to us. We see the temptations, we see the sin in our own lives. We see the sins in those around us. And once we have been exposed to the light, the darkness must run and hide. It is only in God that we have light and life. Once we have the light inside of us we also have eternal life. And when we have this light, we cannot hide it. A city high on a hill cannot be hidden in the darkness. It shines as a beacon for all those who can see it. The moon does not create its own light, but rather reflects the sunlight back to the earth in the darkness. We are to be like the moon to those around us, continually reflecting God’s light and life to those around us. And just like when it’s raining heavily during the middle of the day and the sky is dark, those are like the rough times in our lives. We live on a fallen planet, so we are subject to this fallen world. But just because we cannot see the sun, does not mean the sun is not shining as brightly. It shines just as brightly as it does when we can see it. The clouds are just obscuring our view. We must remember that God is there working in our lives, even when we don’t see or feel him there. At the moment of Jesus’ death, the skies turned dark. This is pure imagery that he had taken in all of our sin, our darkness, and God could not look upon him because God is pure and holy and is light. But when Jesus resurrected on the morning of the third day he did it as the sun was rising…don’t lose this imagery. The sun brings the light, and chases away the darkness. Jesus’ death paid the price for our sins. It reconnected us to God through the vulnerability and intimate relationship, and brought us the light, the life which in Jesus gives eternal life. God saw us in the midst of our depravity of sin, and in our self created departure from Him, and in our lives devoid of Him and still sent Jesus. He knows us, every dark corner, and still loves us!
We cannot live perfect lives. And we don’t have to. Jesus has paid the price for our sins. He has reconnected man to God. And he gives this gift to us. Our call then is to repent of our willful sinning and pick up our cross daily and follow him. Are you ready to do this?
And as we consider the work Jesus accomplished on the cross, let’s revisit the Lord’s Supper or the sacrament of Communion in Matthew 26:26-29.
“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.””
Do you see now how performing the sacrament or the reenactment of Jesus’ last moment with his apostles, is fully demonstrated in the flesh and blood redemption that he brought between us and God?!
And for those of you who have already accepted this free gift. Are you living a life that brings glory to God? Are you speaking the name of Jesus to those around you each day? Man is born on this fallen planet with a cancer of sin. But we have been given a cure. Why are we not sharing this cure? Why are we not sharing Jesus?