Thursday, December 20, 2012

Leave the Light On

Leave the Light On


Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb.  So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.  And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in.  Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,  and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.  For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” – John 20:3-9

Christians have been given the command to be “salt and light” to the world.  We are to be “salt” in flavoring the world around us with the flavor of the Spirit of God, changing the world for good.  We are to be “light” on the path to Christ, and show others the way to salvation.  Yet, how do we lead those to Christ who do not know him?  How can we help them believe in someone they don’t know?
The time of conversion for the disciples, the time when they truly believed Christ was the Messiah, didn’t happen to them all at the same time.  For some, belief came early, such as with Simon Peter, who proclaimed to Jesus in Matthew 16:16 You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  But for some, belief in Jesus did not come until after His death.  For John, belief came the morning of the resurrection.

The past few days the disciples had seen and heard so much!  They had seen Jesus call his friend Lazarus, who had died and was buried, back to life.  Many that were there when Lazarus came out of the tomb believed on Jesus at that time, and told others.  Days later they met Jesus when he entered Jerusalem, throwing palm branches down for Jesus to enter Jerusalem on the back of a small donkey. 
But in John 12:16-18 we read, His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him. Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness.  For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign.“  They listened as he spoke to the crowd and said in John 12:46, I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”  Yet, having not understood that Jesus would be crucified, die, and be resurrected, some of the disciples still could not fully understand His words.

They had listened as He washed their feet and said “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me”(John 13:8), and yet, thought he referred to a bath and wanted even their heads washed.
They listened as He told them that no one comes to Father God except through him.  And yet Philip said to Jesus “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”(John 14:8).  And Jesus replied to Philip, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?” Jesus continued to encourage their belief, to work towards that end, even know the end of His earthly ministry was nearing.

They struggled to understand as Jesus told them that He would make Himself manifest to those that believed in Him, but not the rest of the world.  As Judas asked how that could be, Jesus answered “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”(John 14:23). Yet, Judas did not believe.  But Jesus kept telling them, explaining the Comforter of the Holy Spirit that would come so that, “when it does come to pass, you may believe”(John 14:29).
Jesus later talks to them about His upcoming death and says “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”(John 16:16) But the disciples, not understanding how He could go, then come again, and how He could go to the Father, murmured among themselves as to what He meant.  As Jesus began to explain His words to them they said they believed He had come from God and that they believed.  Yet Jesus, knowing their hearts, knew they had not believed and said to them “Do you now believe?  Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.”(John 16:31-32)

They went with him to the Garden of Gethsemane, and fell asleep while Jesus prayed for them.  They were with Him when He was betrayed, and were scattered as He had said they would be.  They heard of His crucifixion and death on the cross, and they knew of the tomb where He had been buried.  And on the morning of the resurrection when Mary Magdalene told them of His body having been removed from the tomb, John and Simon Peter ran to see the tomb.
John got to the tomb first, stooped down and looked in, but would not go into the tomb.  But Simon Peter, having already believed who Jesus was, entered the tomb.  When he did he saw that Jesus had folded the napkin that was laid across his face neatly, which was a Jewish tradition indicating He would be coming back.  Once Peter entered the tomb, John entered as well, and having “went in also; and he saw and believed.”(John 20:9). 

Simon Peter had believed in Jesus long before the crucifixion and resurrection.  When Jesus had said to him in Matthew 16:15 “But who do you say that I am?” Peter was happy to reply “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” because God had revealed it to Him.  He possessed the faith to believe, which Jesus said would be the foundation of His church.  Simon entered the tomb, saw the folded napkin, and understood the events.  Because Simon led the way, John entered the tomb also.  He then saw the folded napkin, probably recalled the resurrection of Lazarus, and believed Jesus as the risen savior as well.
We all have a responsibility to be light in this world, to lead others to Christ.  Some will be quick to believe, and others will need more time, more encouragement, more signs and wonders to believe that Jesus is the Holy Son of God.  The only way for them to fully believe is if we are transparent with our faith.

As children, we learn by seeing.  We see others walk, and we know how to walk.  We see others eat with utensils, and we learn to eat with a fork and spoon.  We must be open with our faith to teach others about our faith.  Pray in public, praise God for answered prayers openly, and discuss His word when quickened in our spirit to do so.  Faith that can be seen can be believed, and God’s word never returns void.  These are ways that we become light, and light the path to Him. 
Jesus never stopped believing that God would turn his disciples into believers.  He endured their disbelief even past the resurrection when He showed Thomas the nail scars in His hands.  The job of being light to those around us is not over until we are received into Heaven.  Never lose hope.  Leave your light on.

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