Posts Tagged ‘Mary’


Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. John 20:1

Mary-at-empty-tomb

Mary was astonished to see the stone rolled away. She had come expecting to find the corpse of Jesus, and now she was disappointed. Who had taken him away? What cruel prank was this? She told the disciples, and Peter and John were bold enough to risk capture by going to the tomb. They looked closer, but returned home, although John recorded that what he saw made him believe something else had occurred.

Mary was still bewildered, and stood outside the tomb sobbing and wailing uncontrollably. Where had they taken his body? She saw someone standing there, and peering closely, concluded it was just a laborer, probably the gardener. Had her faculties of sight altered? Was her sight obscured by all her tears?

No, Jesus had changed, for He had been resurrected! The means of knowing Jesus had changed as well! Only through Him speaking to her did Mary know Him, and so we find the truth of divine revelation. We can search for God all we want, but we will never, never find Him if we are seeking to know Him in the flesh. When Mary rushed to hug Jesus, He said, “do not touch me.” He had truly changed, and there was to be a new way of knowing Him, a way which transcends the senses, a way which transforms our lives.

The inner clarity of recognition that came to Mary when she heard Him call her name, she could not explain in human terms. She just knew, and that was enough. And so it is with our knowing Jesus the Christ. You can watch all the movies and read all the stories about Jesus, but that is all He will be to you, a fanciful story or amazing leader. Your life will be the same. You can never truly know Jesus with your physical senses. But when Jesus speaks to your heart, and you willingly respond to Him as Lord, your life will be changed! There will be no mistake about it! The resurrection will be no magical story, for it will be the reality of your life! This is what Paul said when he proclaimed, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.”

mary weeping outside tombMary wept. Seeking a corpse, she mistook Jesus for a common person. Many of us mistake Jesus as someone common, not the life-changing Son of God that He actually is. We all have things that we cry over, struggle with or feel stressed about. We may reach a deadlock, a dead-end, and feel as if there is no possible way out. Only when we reach the end of our fleshly strength will we be ready to listen to His voice. When you realize that you need God, need to know His resurrection power, be quiet, for you are likely to hear Him calling you. You can search for Him with all your might, but He can never be found in the strength of your flesh. He has changed! He has risen. He is known only in the Spirit now, and your flesh wars with the Spirit.

Christ “after the flesh” was crucified. Knowing Him in that way results in a corpse vainly searching for another corpse. Mary searched in her flesh and knew not the Resurrected Christ. When her tears were drained, and she was at the end of herself, she was ready to hear His voice. Are you still relying on your own strength and abilities? Are you seeking to know Jesus after the flesh? Give it up, lay aside who you think He is, humble yourself before Him, and ask to hear His voice. Only when you give up on the flesh is the Spirit ready to take over. And the Spirit delights in making Jesus Christ known to your heart!

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My Daddy taught me not to waste. He would yell at us to close the door, turn out the lights, clean my plate. He so impressed that quality upon me that I echoed his words to my children. Something about waste bothers us. We would never volunteer to pay $100 for a McDonald’s Happy Meal. No, that would be a waste!

To understand the radical work of the Gospel, we must understand that the Gospel runs counter to everything that man is taught. The Gospel is opposed to every rational thing that we teach our children. The core concept that is most repulsive to us is seen in John 12. But before we dwell upon the Gospel and “waste”, I want us to see what other things can block the power of the Gospel from our lives. This will lead us into a deeper understanding of the power of the Gospel for our everyday lives. This will open the Gospel to us and it will drive our discipleship.

The Gospel is “Death with a view to increase”. Discipleship is “gaining by trading”. Fruitfulness is the result of living the Gospel. We are not talking of your own fruitfulness, like looking at your garden and admiring your green thumb. We are speaking of fruit that comes from gaining the life of Jesus Christ. Fruit comes from Him and our willingness to give everything to Him.

John 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

A grain of wheat has life in it, but it abides alone. It has the power to impart life to others, but to do so it must be buried in death.

2 Corinthians 4:11-12 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Is Life at work in You? Are you experiencing the Life that is in Jesus Christ? Do you ache when you spend a day without a word from Him? Do you miss not spending time in prayer and fellowship with Him? If His life is at work in you, you know it. If it is not, perhaps you have become hardened to the Gospel. Perhaps you will see yourself in John 12, and God will speak to you this morning, calling you to repent, calling you to waste your life for the sake of Jesus Christ.

John 12 is a chapter about Life and Death, Light and Darkness, Man’s Wisdom vs. God’s Wisdom. At the beginning we see Lazarus who came back to life from the dead. He is the testimony of what a Christian is to be. In the middle we see people who want to see Jesus, but they are blind, their hearts are darkened. At the end we see a lonely Jesus talking to a group of people who just don’t get Him:

John 12:44-50 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

There is light in the words of Christ. There is Life in the Words of Christ. But our hearts are easily hardened to the power of Christ and His Gospel. Our eyes are easily dulled to witness the power of the Gospel.

Let’s see how our hearts can become hard, and our eyes become dull:

There are three people seen in John 12. There are the Disciples, who supposedly follow Jesus. There are the Greeks who want to see Jesus. There are the Pharisees who despise Jesus. Finally, there is a solitary woman named Mary, and our attention will be drawn to her in a moment.

1. The Greeks

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (Joh 12:20-26)

The Greeks wanted to see Jesus. They made a big deal about seeing him. As if they were important and were worth an audience with Him. The fact that they used intermediaries to see Jesus indicates they were men of station and means. In the oriental world important people would always use intermediary agents. As important men they would never go directly to Jesus. They required an introduction.

  • Man’s Status is not an element of the Gospel.
  • Only Dying Slaves have Status with God

Jesus answered Philip and Andrew’s request by referring to His approaching Glory.

John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

His glory is not based upon His status or rank, but simply upon His death. Jesus answered their request with a grain of wheat, and how it must die to bear fruit. If anyone wants to see Jesus, they must hate their life and their status, and follow Him as a slave, a person with no status.

God will honor all those who hate this life and follow Jesus as a slave.

2. The Pharisees & the Crowd

One more time Jesus speaks of glory.

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (Joh 12:27-28)

And the crowd heard the voice of God. Jesus said further, When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.”

But the people didn’t understand. They said the Law teaches that Christ will abide forever. How could the Son of Man die? Their eyes were blind to Jesus. Their hearts were hardened to Jesus being the Messiah. The Pharisees and the crowd could not see Jesus as Lord because they were too focused on their standing, and what they thought should be the standing of the Messiah.

The word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (Joh 12:38-50)

The Pharisees could not see the Glory of God because they loved the glory of man. They put their own concepts of standing and status before God’s. They could not see the glory of God hanging on the cross. It was a foreign concept to them. It kept their eyes blind and their hearts hard.

Do you seek man’s glory? Do you like the admiration of men? Does it bother you when men think bad of you, or look down on you?

Is standing important to you? Do position, influence and power matter to you? If you answered even a tiny ‘yes’ to any of those things, you might not understand the Gospel. Your eyes might be blind to the power of the Gospel. Your heart might be hardened to the power of the Gospel.

But the real test of whether the Gospel is impacting your life is in the third group, the Disciples.

3.  The Disciples

Money and things can harden our heart to the message of the Gospel.

Mark 14:4-9 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

To show you how hard hearts can get over money, look what Mark records as happening next:

Mark 14:10-11 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Jesus is being honored because He brought Life to a dead man. He raised a dead man to life. Not a sick man, not a comatose man, but a dead rotting in the ground, stinking to high heaven man. Jesus had brought life to a dead man, and all the disciples could worry about was how wasteful this woman was. A woman (Mary) took an alabaster flask of spikenard and used it to anoint the head and feet of Jesus. She even used her hair to wipe his feet. The disciples reacted indignantly, especially Judas. They said this is such a waste, it should have been sold for a year’s worth of wages and given to the poor.

The Gospel is Never “Rational”

What she did was so unusual, that most ‘normal, rational Christians’ would find it a waste. They shake their heads and turn the judgmental faucet on. Jesus reacted with some stern comments. His comments will shed some insight into the Gospel that you and I believe in. I want to unwrap His comments so we can learn the power of the Gospel in our everyday lives.

Why was the ointment wasted like that? Why this Waste?

Waste-apóleia; gen. apōleías, fem. noun from apóllumi , to destroy fully. Used trans. the losing or loss (Matt. 26:8), intrans. perdition, ruin. In the NT, apóleia refers to the state after death wherein exclusion from salvation is a realized fact, wherein  .[1]

In 1 Tim. 6:9 the words ólethros and apóleia occur together referring to those who determine to be rich. In this instance, ólethros refers to the actual physical death of those who desire to be rich by any means such as Judas, Ananias and Sapphira. Apóleia, on the other hand, refers to separation from God Himself in fulfillment of our Savior’s warnings that the rich enter the kingdom of heaven with difficulty (Matt. 19:23, 24; Mark 10:25). [2]

Jesus responds to His blind and hardened disciples:

1. Leave her alone

Jesus issued a stern rebuke to His disciples. Give it up guys! Stop it! You are so wrong Guys. You just don’t get it! Jesus wanted his men to see something amazing about the Gospel. It is a foundational principle of God’s character revealed in the Gospel. It is a principle which must be applied to our life if we are to experience the power of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes we are quick to judge someone, especially because of something they do that seems to be stupid or dumb. God often has a lesson for us to see and understand. God’s ways are not our ways, and we must learn to see God in those moments that seem such a waste.

Have you ever said something or thought something about what someone has done and you say, I know I should say this, or I don’t mean any disrespect… Jesus is telling you to “Leave Her Alone”

2. Why do you trouble her. (Cause her pain)

The disciples probably thought they were something else. They had already argued about who was going to sit at the right hand of Christ. So they thought they were entitled to look down their noses at this poor unfortunate woman.

Jesus said stop causing her pain. Spiritual pride gets in the way of the work of the Spirit. It can cause pain in the body. The idea of this Greek word for cause  is ‘minister’.

  • The disciples were ministering pain to the body.

The Gospel is about Honoring Jesus Christ through your life. You can touch and encourage people and other disciples. You can strengthen others with your words and your actions. But when you allow things to darken your eyes, you can say and do things that bring pain to the body, to other believers. You cause pain to Jesus Christ. He says, why do you trouble her.

3. She has done a beautiful thing to me

Mark 14:6 καλὸν kalon ἔργον ergon  ἠργάσατο ērgasato ἐν en ἐμοί. emoi –A GOOD WORK SHE HAS PERFORMED ON ME

expresses beauty as a harmonious completeness, balance, proportion. Good as to effect or influence, useful, profitable, equivalent to hálas, salt[3]

We are to be salt to this world and to each other. And if we do it to honor Christ, the world will say that is so wasteful.

Here was a woman who wasted her beauty on the beauty of Jesus Christ. Her future as a wife and mother was bound up in that alabaster jar. It was her dowry given for marriage. She considered honoring Jesus so important that she poured out her beauty, her future, her everything upon his dirty feet, his dirty hair.

To give your life to Jesus Christ as a living sacrifice. To give Him your future, your reputation, your desires, and your dreams is a beautiful thing to God. It is considered your obligation as a follower of Jesus Christ. But if you want to do something really beautiful to Jesus, you must waste something. You must do something so ‘irrational’ that even disciples will say, “what a waste.”

4. She did what she could.

This single woman, who a few days before had been scolding Jesus for not coming sooner to heal sick Lazarus. She even blamed Jesus for his death. Now she was so touched by His compassion and love, that she was willing to give Him her future. Here was her dowry, reserved for the day of her betrothal, and now she was willingly pouring it upon her Savior.

She did it willingly, sacrificially, but most importantly, she did it! There was no delay, no hesitation, no doubt. If she had waited but a week, Jesus would have been dead.

Parents, Grandparents, are you doing anything wasteful for your family. Are you doing anything wasteful for God? What you can do should always be a waste. We do not limit our discipleship by what is rational or even prudent. We do what we can. We waste our lives, our possessions for the sake of the gospel.

5. She demonstrated the Gospel.

How did a foolish, wasteful act by an obviously desperate single woman display the Gospel? Why was this seemingly foolish act so important that Jesus said it would be told alongside the Gospel for the rest of time? The Gospel will be proclaimed throughout eternity.

  • She died to her future.
  • She broke the bottle of her substance
  • She poured out her life to be united with Jesus
  • A sweet fragrance covered the Savior and filled the room.

What is waste?

Waste means giving more than necessary. If something costs a dollar and you pay $5, it is a waste. If a pint will be enough to paint, a gallon would be a waste. Waste means you give something too much for something too little. If someone is receiving more than he is worth, that is a waste.

But the action of Mary would go wherever the Gospel is preached. Why? Christ wants all those who respond to the Gospel to waste themselves on Him.

Adoniram Judson

Adoniram Judson labored in Burma in the early 1800’s. He was bright, ambitious, and could have been very successful in his life. Instead, he chose to be a missionary for Jesus Christ.

Life in Burma was beyond hard. This was a ‘hard’ mission field. It was six years before his first convert. The hardships he and his family experienced were deadly.

Adoniram buried two young wives and six young children, victims of the diseases and rigors of Burma. He was imprisoned to the point of starvation and death. He was tortured mercilessly. He labored long hours suffering from fever, headaches, poor eyesight, all due to the conditions he lived in. He had only one furlough in 38 years. After being imprisoned for 17 months, and upon being released experiencing the death of his wife and infant, and hearing of the death of his father, he even suffered a crisis of despair and lost faith.

“God is to me the Great Unknown. I believe in him, but I find him not.[4]

He even dug a grave in the tiger infested jungle and for 30 days would retreat there and contemplate his wasted life. He despaired to the point of desiring death. As God and some Burmese worked to pull him out of his despair, his faith slowly returned. The next year (1831) saw a miraculous outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit as hundred turned to Christ.

  • It took Judson 12 years to make 18 converts.

When Judson began his mission in Burma, he set a goal of translating the Bible and founding a church of 100 members before his death. When he died, he left the Bible, 100 churches, and over 8,000 believers.

Adoniram Judson “hated his life in this world” and was a “seed that fell into the ground and died.” In his sufferings “he filled up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions” in unreached Burma. Therefore his life bore much fruit and he lives to enjoy it today and forever. He would, no doubt, say: It was worth it.

In the world’s view, giving yourself to Christ and serving as a Pastor or a Missionary is a waste of ability. If someone of great natural ability surrenders that to serve the Lord, his friends will say “such a waste”.

Are you experiencing the power of the Gospel? Are you more in love with Jesus today than last year, or even 20 years ago? Would He say you have done a beautiful thing for Him? Would He say you have done what you could?

What are you willing to waste for the sake of Jesus Christ?

Don’t let your love of money harden you. Don’t let your love of status or reputation blind you. Don’t let men influence you as to what is proper. Do you want to see the glory of Jesus Christ? Do you want to hear Him say, “You did what you could”? Then ask Him what you can waste for Him.

John 12:36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” 


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 246.
[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 246.
[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 814.
[4] Anderson, To the Golden Shore, 398-399.

Christmas time can be a very gloomy time for those who have lost a loved one recently. I saw a woman today that had just lost her husband to cancer. She has fallen apart, and doesn’t know how she can go on. She told me she feels so empty inside. I know other people who are feeling ’empty’ this Christmas, for they have lost a husband, a wife, or a child this year. I am about to do a special Christmas sermon this Sunday, wearing my Christmas pajama’s. I shared last Sunday to those who might have been offended at this, the reason for doing so. It is because of the most meaningful Christmas I ever had, a morning when my Dad read the Christmas Story in his pajama’s.

My Dad did not know the reality of Jesus until late in his life. Until Jesus became real to him, Christmas was just another secular holiday. My Mom made sure Jesus was mentioned, but He was pushed over to the side, crowed out by all the toys and gifts. When Dad discovered the reality of Jesus Christ, his whole life changed. Everything, his home, his business, his life, his hopes, became centered around Jesus.

My Dad reads the Christmas Story

Jesus made a difference in the way he related to me. I was a young man of 18 headed to college when he came to me and said with tears in his eyes, “Son, God has given me a second chance”. He then asked me to forgive him for not being a good father. It was the first time I ever saw my Dad cry. I was so touched by his embrace and tears that this memory is constantly with me. Christmases were different after this. The emphasis was upon Jesus Christ. Presents were secondary. Little did I know that just three years later I would be home, with my wife and one month old son, celebrating Christmas with my family. As I held my son, I thought, how can I ever be a good father to him? I didn’t know where to begin, or what to do. Fears overwhelmed this young father of 21. As I sat on the couch holding my son Benjamin, my pride was overwhelmed by a sense of inadequacy.

Then it was time. The candles were lit, lights turned off, and in the early morning dawn of Christmas Morn, 1974, my Dad read the Christmas story from Luke. I thought of Joseph and Mary, charged with the responsibility of raising the Messiah, the Son of God. How inadequate they must have felt. I thought of Joseph, and how he loved Mary so much that he endured the criticism of his friends and married her. What drove him to do such a thing as to marry a woman whom the Law said to stone? What drove a young betrothed girl to submit to having God’s son when she knew it would cause such problems?

Simeon Holds the Messiah

Then my Dad read the reaction of Simeon, who took the Baby Jesus and held him up, saying, “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”  (Luke 2:30-32) The light seemed to come on, and I realized that God had been very real to Mary, Joseph and Simeon. So real that they believed what He said. Mary believed the Word of God, Joseph believed the Word of God, and so put God’s will before their own comfort and concerns. Simeon believed God’s Word, and so every day lived with the Hope of seeing the Messiah before he died.

The Light of Jesus Christ had become real to my Dad, and now he lived with the real Hope of Jesus Christ. I did not know how to be a good father at the age of 21. I was scared, but I did have a Hope. I realized that morning that the Hope of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is what guided Mary and Joseph, sustained Simeon, and now made my Dad the father that God wanted him to be. If I was to be a good Dad to my son, my Hope would have to be in Jesus Christ, and not in myself!

The Engraving Congratulating the New "Grandpa"

"Big Daddy" Holds Benjamin

Did we mourn and grieve? Certainly? Did we feel an emptiness? Definitely? Did we feel helpless? Never! Did we feel Hopeless? Not in the least! The Hope of Jesus Christ that had become real was also our Hope! Jesus was real to my family because of the influence of “Big Daddy”!

My heart goes out to those who are struggling this Christmas with the emptiness that losing a loved one can cause. My prayer is that you will discover the Hope of Jesus Christ, just as my family has. He transforms emptiness into fullness, helplessness into hopefulness! This has become a life verse for me, and it is based upon the Hope I have ever before me, the Hope of Jesus Christ:  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my GodPsalm 42:11

Is your faith and hope in GOD? If not, allow me to introduce you to the Living Hope, Jesus Christ. It is through Him that my Dad was changed, it was through Him that my family was changed. It is through Him that your life can become rich and full, even when you have suffered a devastating loss.

Benjamin really enjoys Big Daddy Reading

He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:20-21

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ … having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:12-13

PS: Benjamin is a grown man with a family of his own. He and his wife have two beautiful young girls. My son has established his family upon the hope of Jesus Christ as well. I know Bid Daddy is very proud of you, Ben!


In one of the All in the Family episodes that aired some years ago, Edith and Archie are attending Edith’s high school class reunion. Edith encounters an old classmate by the name of Buck who, unlike his earlier days, had now become excessively obese. Edith and Buck have a delightful conversation about old times and the things that they did together, but remarkably, Edith does not seem to notice how extremely heavy Buck has become. Later, when Edith and Archie are talking, she says in her whiny voice, “Archie, ain’t Buck a beautiful person.” Archie looks at her with a disgusted expression and says: “You’re a pip, Edith. You know that. You and I look at the same guy, you see a beautiful person, and I see a blimp. Edith gets a puzzled expression on her face and says something unknowingly profound, “Yeah, ain’t it too bad.” Do you see Jesus Christ as the True Light? 

“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…the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world”. John 1:4,5,9

Jesus confirmed this truth: John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In His confrontation with the Pharisees over the woman taken in adultery, Jesus revealed how His light reveals the truth that He can free from sin, from satan, from the law and from judgment. In effect, through His light, God was able to write upon the dust of our sin-damaged lives, that there is now “No Condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1)

True Light of Hope

Matthew reveals another side of the True Light.

Matthew 12:18-21 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

In the True Light of Jesus Christ, we find Hope!

John the Baptist

In Matthew 11, we find John the Baptist imprisoned by King Herod. The man who shook the nation of Israel is now quiet, and despairing that he will die as a failure. After all, Jesus of Nazareth did not come to free him. Therefore, he sends some of his disciples to ask Jesus:

Matthew 11:2-6 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Jesus didn’t say yes, he merely told them to remind John of what he was doing. Blind, Lame, Lepers, deaf, dead, the poor. Then he added, “blessed are the ones who are not offended by me”. Jesus was saying: “John, do not despair, do not give up hope, look what I am doing in fulfillment of Scripture. Just because things do not happen the way you think they should, do not be offended. Never give up hope! I am He! But do not get offended if things do not go the way you think they should! I am Lord and you are not! Vaclav Havel before he became the democratically elected President of the Czech Republic was imprisoned by the communist regime. During one of those imprisonments, he wrote:

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well. However, the certainty that something makes sense. Regardless of how it turns out.

You may react to his definition of hope, because as Christians, we are taught that all things will work for good to those who love God. However, what we usually think is that it will work out for my good. It certainly did not work out for John the Baptist’s good to have his head cut off. It certainly did not work out for Stephen’s good when he was stoned to death. But we do know that everything that happens, regardless of how it works out, will make sense! Why? Because Jesus is Lord and He is in Control!! The only ones who lose hope are those who believe God is not in control!

Job

Job 17:11 My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart’s desires are broken.

Job thought that God was treating him unjustly. He could not understand God doing this to him. He imagined that God was making a mistake, that He was not in control. He had all kinds of questions and arguments he would lay before God if he could only get the chance. Finally, God spoke to Job, and Job was silent. Job encountered the great I AM, and knew that He had been in control the whole time, and it all made sense.

I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” Job 42:5-6

Does your life make sense? Have there been times when you were like John the Baptist, wondering what was going on, wondering where God was, wondering if He was in control? Or were like Job, thinking God was unfair, wanting to argue with him. Did you get offended at what was going on? Did you get angry, hurt, upset? Did you lose hope and give in to despair or depression? Did you moan with Job “My hopes have disappeared; my heart’s desires are broken?” Let us look into the Light of Jesus and discover why we should never lose hope, no matter how dark things get.

Matthew 12

Jesus finds himself at odds with the Scribes & Pharisees, because his disciples have picked & eaten corn on the Sabbath. He replies to them:

Matthew 12:3-8 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

1.Jesus is Lord, even of the Sabbath!

  • If we rest, we rest in Jesus, for He is Lord!

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

  • Do not get offended at Jesus. What He does is right, it is just, and He is Lord!

2. He desires a heart that is yielded to Him rather than ‘outward conformance’ or even performance.

  • Only yielded hearts will survive the trials and tribulations of this life!
  • Fake people always wilt under pressure.

Just because you put on a good show of being a Christian does not mean that inwardly you are struggling with doubt, with fears, with despair and with depression, with sins. You can put on a good show, but Jesus knows your heart, He knows whether you are real or fake. Peter presents the heart of a true Christian in six simple verses. This Christian has a new heart, with a new hope, a hope that endures through the fire of trials!

1 Peter 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

A heart that is yielded totally to Christ is a heart in Love with Jesus, it is a born again heart with a living hope! A fake Christian is putting on a display because of what he thinks he will get-favor from God. A yielded heart is confident that Jesus is Lord of whatever situation you go through! Next, we see a man who is lame in his right hand.

The Man with a withered hand

Matthew 12:9-14 He went on from there and entered their synagogue. In addition, a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”— so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand”. And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

The Lesson here is the Lord of the Sabbath will always be mindful of your needs. His mercy is to be trusted.

DAVID

Psalms 13:1-6 How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? Forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

David endured hardship after hardship, near death experiences one after another, yet rather than lose hope and get offended at what was happening to him, he strengthened his heart in the Lord. He trusted in the Sovereignty of God, therefore he could rejoice in His salvation.

Apostle Paul

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.”

He wrote this three chapters after stating 1:8-9: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself…” Paul had those moments when things were so dark, so desperate that he despaired for his very life. How did Paul go from one who despairing of life itself to one who is hard pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, struck down, but not destroyed, never feeling that God had abandoned him.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
  • 2 Corinthians 4:11 … so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

Paul’s Hope was in God, Paul’s Purpose was that the life of Jesus would be manifested through his life-regardless of what he went through.

The Nation of Israel

God brought horrible judgment upon his own people because of their continual sins against Him. First the Northern and then the Southern kingdoms fell to foreign Kings. Jeremiah was there to witness the fall of Jerusalem and Judea. Here are his own words about his experience:

Lamentations 3:19-24 The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

His heart was in God’s hands, and therefore He trusted in Him! He trusted in God’s tender mercies!

Ezekiel and the Valley of Bones

I love the vision of the dried bones God gave Ezekiel out in the valley:

Ezekiel 37:11-14 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

Matthew quotes the Old Testament when he declared: “and in his name the Gentiles will hope”. We share in the Hope of Israel!

Before Jesus we were without hope

Ephesians 2:12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.

  • Jesus is the True Light that brings the Light of Hope to the Gentiles!

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

THE HOPE OF THE BRUISED AND SUFFERING CHRISTIAN.

Matthew 12:20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

Bruised Reed: People used reeds to make into pens in ancient times. The reed is hollow and would hold the ink. If the reed was bruised or bent, the ink would leak and become useless. The writer would break the bruised reed and throw it away. Like a pen, the reed was an instrument of expression. Therefore, I like to think of the reed as representing our voice and ability of expression. Only a dead person does not voice his opinions or share his feelings. The first thing Satan wants to do is to stop us from sharing and expressing our ideas, especially when we speak for the kingdom of God. He will make every effort to cut off our network of friends and isolate us so that we will be discouraged. SMOKING FLAX: A smoking flax or a smoldering wick symbolizes our usefulness and the ability to shine for the Lord. It is no doubt that we have been created to shine for Jesus but when we fall into sins, our wick would become smoldered. We would not shine that brightly anymore. That is when the enemy of our souls seeks to terminate that light. He does that by encouraging people around us to say disparaging words or spread malicious rumors about us. When we allow all these words and rumors to enter our hearts, we would become bitter and angry. Please take note that it is not those gossips or criticisms that smolder our wicks but how we react to them that would terminate our light.

Jesus Christ is the True Light of Hope for Mankind.

By his death for us, he has ‘faithfully brought forth justice’ (Isaiah 42:3) by suffering the justice of God in our place once and for all. Look now to Jesus and find mercy for your bruised and weakened soul. Receive his tender comfort, cleansing, healing and all-sufficient grace. God’s great mercy in Christ is for us ‘bruised reeds’ and ‘smoldering wicks’.

This Hope is the Anchor of Christianity

Hebrews 6:17-20 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Gods Promise to Us

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

The Despair of Mary

After answering the angels, Mary turned around. Suddenly she saw Jesus standing there, but she failed to recognize him. Like the angels, Jesus asked Mary, “Why are you crying?” He then asked her, “Whom are you seeking?” Assuming he might be the gardener, who cared for the tomb, she again poured out her heart’s despair. “Sir, if you indeed have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him away” (literally carry him). Her desire to find Jesus’ body and her loving concern to give him a proper burial in a good resting place so consumed her that she never considered that she herself could not possibly carry Jesus’ body to a final resting place. Then Jesus turned her night of gloom into the light of joy. He spoke her name, “Mary”; in such a way, that she knew instantly who he was. From despair, her heart rose to soar in the clouds. “Rabboni!” she exclaimed, which is an Aramaic term of special respect that means, “My Master”. The experience of seeing Jesus alive, risen from the dead, lifted her spirits to a profound joy. Grieving and despairing, she had searched for her dead Jesus, but with joy, she discovered instead her living Savior. He had risen! He was alive! Nothing else mattered to her. Nothing would take away her newfound joy. She threw her arms around him to cling to him, she was so happy to see him and to have him back. Jesus rose! He lives! Our faith clings to, not a dead man who was crucified and buried, but a living Lord and Savior who rose from the dead. We rejoice that he who died to save us lives. Our hearts hold the joyful hope that with our very own eyes we will rise from the dead to see him and hold him who loves us and gives us eternal life. We can rejoice with Job:

Job 19:25-27 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

Fanny Crosby

Fanny Crosby probably wrote more hymns than anyone else in history. She wrote over 8000 hymns, and many are in our hymnal today. Fanny gave the Christian world such songs as:

  • A Shelter In The Time Of Storm,
  • All The Way My Saviour Leads Me,
  • Blessed Assurance,
  • Close To Thee,
  • He Hideth My Soul,
  • I Am Thine 0 Lord,
  • Jesus Is Calling,
  • My Saviour First Of All,
  • Near The Cross,
  • Pass Me Not,
  • Praise Him Praise Him,
  • Redeemed,
  • Rescue The Perishing,
  • Safe In The Arms Of Jesus,
  • Saved By Grace,
  • Saviour More Than Life To Me,
  • Take The World But Give Me Jesus,
  • Tell Me The Story Of Jesus,
  • The Lights Of Home,
  • Thou Mighty To Save,
  • To God Be The Glory,

When Fanny was six weeks old, she caught a slight cold in her eyes. The family physician was away. Another country doctor was called in to treat her. He prescribed hot mustard poultices to be applied to her eyes, which destroyed her sight! It was later learned that the man was not qualified to practice medicine, but he had left town and was never heard of again. Fanny never felt any resentment against him, but believed it was permitted by the Lord to fulfill His plan for her life. Though blind, she wrote over 8,000 hymns. About her blindness, she said:

It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow, I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.

After a visit to the most renowned eye doctor in the world determined her blindness was incurable, she said:

“Mother, if I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind … for when I die; the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour.”

“And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story – Saved by grace.”

Whose face do you see in times of darkness and despair? Whose hand do you see reaching for you when things look hopeless? When you see a difficult situation do you see the Beauty of Christ, or do you just see an Ugly Blimp on your back? Let me assure you that Jesus is still Lord! He is the one who can be trusted completely! He is the anchor of our HOPE that this life does make sense to the source of life!

My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.
When the last trumpet’s voice shall sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found; Robed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.

Jesus Christ TRUE LIGHT of HOPE!


Making decisions in the dark can lead to some regrettable consequences. Back in the days before electricity, a tight-fisted old farmer was taking his hired man to task for carrying a lighted lantern when he went to call on his best girl. “Why,” he exclaimed, “when I went a-courtin’ I never carried one of them things. I always went in the dark.” “Yes,” the hired man said wryly,” and look what you got!”

Have you ever held your Bible in you hand and thought, there is no way I can understand this! There is simply too much in here. How can I even begin to understand it all? I must admit, it seems every week I am thinking exactly that. I keep bringing my thoughts back to this one thought: The Bible is not a history book, it is not an anthropology book, it is not even a religious guidebook. The Bible is the message of God seeking and redeeming men women and children who see His light and respond to His light and walk in His light. That is why so little of the history of the world is not mentioned in the Bible. That is why it is not organized into neat chronological stories. It isn’t about what we can figure out with our little brains. It is all about God and His light. The Bible is written to move us to seek His light.

For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness. Psalms 18:27-28

Of course we can’t understand it all! But does that mean we give up reading it, loving it? I will never completely understand my wife. Does that mean I give up trying?

We seek after the light because we love the light! Do you sincerely want the light of God in your life?

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Psalms 36:9

This Christmas we are focusing on the “True Light” of Christmas, the birth of our Savior, God in flesh, Jesus Christ. He is the “True Light” of Christmas.

As our world becomes increasingly secular, there will be the danger of relegating Jesus to a display, a manger scene, when in reality HE desires no other recognition than to be Lord of your heart and life. He desires to be your light and life. He does not want to be trotted out every December. He does not want to be honored just on Christmas Eve. Jesus desires to light your life every day of your life. That will take a commitment on your part, a commitment which Satan will do everything in his power to obstruct.

The Scriptural foundation for our study this morning.

  • Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
  • As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. John 9:5
  • …whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness“. John 12:45-46
  • In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4
  • That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Ephesians 1:17-19

John in Chapter one of his Gospel declared that Jesus is the True Light, and His light is the life of men, and darkness will not overcome it. However, that does not mean that the darkness does not try. In fact, a survey of history reveals how the darkness has tried to obliterate the true light.

At the very time, John wrote his gospel there was a falling away from Jesus Christ. People were questioning the deity of Jesus Christ in the flesh. They were saying that He only became God when the Spirit came upon Him at his baptism.

That is why He was inspired to write:

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 anything 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. John 1:1-5

After a beautiful gospel that presents Jesus Christ in His deity, John concludes with this assurance:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31

However, he questions continued and grew more intense. The doubts about the deity of Jesus spread. Many years later John wrote once more, offering his personal assurance:

In I John:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:1-7

He adds the weight of his own testimony, and bears witness to the life and light of God manifested to the disciples through the Son-Jesus Christ. John declares that the message that Jesus proclaimed to him was that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Our fellowship with God MUST be based on our walk in His light. If we walk in darkness, we have no fellowship with God. But praise God, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, so that we can walk with God in His light!

That is why John concludes His book with an even greater declaration than that which closed out his gospel. Not only can we have Life in Jesus Christ, but also John declares:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. … We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:13-21

  • Are you really desiring to be in God’s purpose;
  • Do you really seek to know what that purpose is, and to be found in it?
  • Everything depends upon whether you have such a concern. Your desire will determine whether you are simply here to increasing your knowledge about spiritual things or whether you are here because of your strong desire to be in God’s purpose, the eternal purpose of God.
  • Are you prepared to commit yourselves to the Lord and to living completely according to His purpose?

From the very beginning God has sought people to fellowship with Him, to walk with Him. However, because God is light, fellowship could only be in the light of His righteousness. For in Him is no darkness at all.

ADAM & EVE

God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening.

However, Adam and Eve loved darkness, and chose to rebel. Their fellowship was lost, their eyes were changed. Now instead of seeing only the light, they saw darkness. Their eyes were blinded by the darkness of sin.

God responds with Abel and the altar. The altar dealt with the darkness of sin and allowed the Light of God into their relationship.

Cain ignored the light and offered that which was cursed. His blindness then led him to murder his brother.

From their experience, we conclude this foundational truth of our relationship with God.

  1. Fellowship with God is only possible through the light
  2. Fellowship is only possible through the removal of the curse of sin.
  3. The removal of the curse requires a sacrifice.

These truth’s are confirmed as we trace the history of the conflict between darkness and God’s Light

From Abel to Noah

From Abel to Noah the darkness becomes more intense and deliberate. The earth – which is the Lord’s – is taken possession of by man for his own ends.

God says, “you like darkness?” How would you like 40 days and 40 nights of rain? Every living creature is destroyed except those saved by the ark.

Emerging from the judgment, Noah builds an altar and offers sacrifice, and in so doing declares, in intent and effect: “The earth” (the renewed earth) “is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof” (Ps. 24:1).

God has fellowship with man again. Light is returned to the world through the altar. Sin was judged by the death of the flood.

However, darkness returns all too soon. Even Noah is an agent when he gets drunk.

Babel

Babel is built by men desperate for a god of their own making, desperate to prevent a future judgment. Babel is cursed by God, and under that curse men are scattered to the four corners of the earth. Then, when, it would appear that the testimony of God has disappeared from the earth, God finds a man willing to obey Him, willing to follow the light.

Abraham

Abraham responds to God’s call. “The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia” or (when he was in darkness) – (Acts 7:2).

The God of glory APPEARED, showed Himself. Abraham had his eyes opened to see the God of glory and all the great redemptive work of God went forward through Abraham on that basis.

Their fellowship was secured when Abraham is willing to sacrifice his own son to Jehovah. The altar is once again in view, and Abraham walks in the light of God, and a new nation of God followers begins.

Israel in Egypt

God remembers his people in bondage in Egypt. In the light of the burning bush, God calls Moses to deliver them and lead them to God’s Promised Land.

God once again sets forth the Altar. In the midnight darkness of Egyptian homes a wail is heard as the angel of death slays all the firstborn males. Yet in the Jewish homes, there is the light of God, for He has seen the blood and passed over them.

His people are redeemed and led across the Red Sea on dry ground.

God leads them with fire. He has fellowship with them in the Tent of Testimony.

The Conquest of Palestine

Next, we have His people led by Joshua who is following the Captain of the Hosts. Their very entrance into the Promised Land must be across the Jordan River, which symbolizes death in both the Old and New Testaments. Once they cross, an altar is made as a monument. It symbolizes the death of the Jews to their flesh and sin and their new life of fellowship with the light of God. Their very first victories reveal that this is to be God’s battle, in God’s strength, under God’s Laws. If they go their own way or rely on their own strength, they will suffer judgment and defeat!

Judges and Kings

From here commences the long and infamous history of Israel’s descent into darkness. What had been intended to be a Kingdom of God and God’s light became a nightmare of the darkness of sin. Repeatedly they departed and deviated from God’s light.

Even though sacrifices were made, the heart of the people was dark and far from God.

God stirred men to bring His people back, men such as Hezekiah and Josiah. However, the heart of the entire nation was never stirred back to the light of God’s word. When the leader died, the apostasy set in and deepened.

First the Northern and then the Southern Kingdoms were captured and led into captivity. The nation was obliterated, the Temple, the Altar were destroyed. The darkness appears to have overcome the light of God.

Yet God reveals His light through Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They are faithful to the light of God; they sacrifice their lives to him on the altar of fire and lions. After Daniels prayer, God moves in a handful of remnant, people who still look to the light of God.

We read about this remnant in Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah. It is a great time of revival and restoration, but the darkness creeps back.

Malachi

There is more apostasy, rebellion, until we get the terrible conditions recorded in Malachi, leading up to the awful announcement:

You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Malachi 3:9

How black and dark things were! Were they ever worse? Yet God is not defeated; the light is not obscured; for, in the midst of the blackness, there is that which represents the most blessed victory:

Then they that feared Jehovah spoke often one to another; and Jehovah observed [it], and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared Jehovah, and that thought upon his name. 17 And they shall be unto me a peculiar treasure, saith Jehovah of hosts, in the day that I prepare; and I will spare them as a man spared his own son that serves him. Malachi 3:16-17

Malachi closes, and for four hundred years, there is darkness and chaos. Surely now the testimony has ceased and faithfulness has disappeared? Surely now the Lord has lost everything? The darkness has conquered the light?

LUKE

Now we take up the book that Luke wrote to his friend Theophilus. Luke brings into our view a certain priest

Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth

“And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. Luke 1:6

We also find Mary, to whom the angel Gabriel said:

“Thou that are endued with grace, the Lord is with thee”. Luke 1:28

There was also Simeon and Anna:

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Luke 2:25-32

And there was one Anna, a prophetess… she… spoke of him to ALL THEM THAT WERE LOOKING for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36, 38.

Even in the midst of great darkness, God has always had a faithful remnant who seeks HIS LIGHT! Listen to their Witness:

  • Zechariah:  “because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:78-79
  • Mary: “And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. Luke 1:50
  • Simeon: “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel”.Luke 2:31-32

Throughout history, no matter how deep the darkness, no matter the degree of blindness, there has been a remnant, a peculiar treasure, a group of jewels who have sought the light of God! Even when there has been no written revelation, they have seen that

1. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5)

2. The Kingdom of God is the rule of Divine light.

In the New Jerusalem, the heaven in which we shall one day dwell, it is recorded:

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. Revelation 21:23-25

Birth of Jesus – FOCAL POINT OF CONFLICT

The Birth of Jesus was the revelation of God’s Light in human form. However, what made His light so intense, so beautiful, was that the manger they laid Jesus upon represented the altar that God requires for us to walk in His light.

For Jesus was not born to reign as a King, or Serve as a Priest, He was born to die. He was born to deal for once and for all the mighty deathblow to the prince of darkness.

While we sing of Peace and Silent Nights, the birth of Jesus was a focal point of intense conflict. For God has been set against the darkness from the very creation.

God has always attacked the Darkness

Genesis 1 opens with “Darkness upon the face of the deep”. God did not just look at that darkness and call out in a soft voice: ‘Let us have some light.’ I believe that God attacked the darkness by boldly declaring ‘Let there be light!’ Darkness is contrary to my nature.

In 2 Corinthians 4:4, listen to the stern tone of Paul’s voice as he cries out:

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4

This darkness is the work of the devil, and God is adamantly against it.

The Redemptive message of God’s Word is that the Light will overcome the darkness through the altar, through sacrifice, through removal of the curse!

Jesus declared this about Abraham to the Jews:

“Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” John 8:56

The Jews were in darkness, their eyes blind to the truth of Jesus, and took up stones to kill Jesus. They refused the light of God, just as their fathers had before them, and their fathers before that.

Abraham saw the light of Jesus Christ!

Satan does not want our eyes open to see the True Light of Jesus Christ. He wants us to relegate him to a pretty story, a beautiful manger scene. However, God wants us to see the conflict that is raging between the darkness and the True Light.

This conflict is ever at our door, for by nature we love the darkness rather than the light. Look at God’s own people to see how easily they became blind to God!

Where do you stand? Where does your family stand? Are you with the faithful remnant? Are you ever looking to the True Light of God? Are you daily dying on the altar, the altar of death to the flesh, the altar of death to sin?

Are you daily looking to the True Light by looking to His Word, by seeking His light in prayer?

On the other hand, are you so rushed at Christmas time that Satan has stolen the True Light from your life. Are you so busy and stressed that you have no time for the True Light?

The supreme work of Satan is not to get good people to do bad things, not to drag good people into the cesspool of sin, nor does he drag young men and women into moral corruption, nor does he make infidels and atheists. These are only byproducts of Satan’s supreme work! His supreme work is to blind us!

Take away the blindness, open our eyes to the True Light, and all this will be dealt with. Satan wants to keep us in the dark as to the True Light! The True Light is the most fatal thing to the kingdom of Satan. Paul put it simply:

“LEST the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ should shine.”

Satan says:

‘If those people get the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, MY kingdom is gone. The battle is over for me. I am lost.’

Satan will do anything to keep us from having light.

This is why Paul prays in Ephesians that the eyes of our understanding would be enlightened. The darkness is ever around us.

Paul mentioned those who are “darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” Ephesians 4:18

You may be thinking, ‘Well, we are not in the dark. We are saved people.’

  • That is exactly what the Jews were thinking. What happened to their Temple? What happened to their Holy City?
  • That is exactly what the seven churches were saying, yet every one of their candlesticks is removed today. Today Turkey is covered with the darkness of Satan.

If we want to keep walking in the True Light, we must realize it will only come with sacrifice and conflict. Satan is opposed to the light!

Divine light is POSITIVE.

You cannot have Divine light and be neutral. If God has shined into your heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,

Your life is a challenge to the kingdom of Satan, and his attitude to you will be: ‘We will get you out as soon as we can!’

You will find that Satan will stop at nothing to quench that light. You see, Jesus being the True Light of Christmas is not just a pretty story or Bible theory;

It is a menace to the kingdom of Satan.

Are you walking in the True Light of Jesus Christ? Then your very existence disturbs the kingdom of Satan.

Isaiah 60:1-2

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you and his glory will be seen upon you.

We love seeing the Nativity scene. We use it to decorate our homes. We even set them up in our front yard. But understand this. That was no simple manger that nestled the head of baby Jesus. That manger was the altar of sacrifice, the means of our fellowship with the Light of God. It was the means of the defeat of sin and Satan. That manger meant the death of God’s only begotten Son.

1. We must constantly be on guard against the darkness entering our life.

2. Realize that Satan’s number one goal is to bring dullness and/or darkness into your life, so that the Word of God has no effect.

3. Disobedience, disregard, doubt, distraction all work to dull our eyes to the light of God’s Word.

4. The Light of God only enters our life through the altar. We must die to our desires, we must lay aside our pride, we must humble ourselves to God’s sovereign will.

5. We must desire the Light of God’s Word more than Life itself.

6. We must daily seek the Light of God’s Word! We must ask for it! We must set our heart upon it!