The next few entries will focus on the I AM statements in John’s gospel. I hope this will explain the name change of the blog. Let’s starts with John 9.
Jesus first calls himself the light of the world as he stands in front of the Temple in the city of Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles (8.12). Two thousand years later he still calls himself the light for our city. What’s the claim?
The sun is the light of our world. It’s a primary source of life. It gives us heat & photosynthesis which makes things grow, it gives us wind & tides & light so that we can see. Without the sun there would be no life on earth.
But at the same time, unmediated the sun’s power could consume and destroy us. It’s 109 times bigger than the earth, every second it generates 400 million million million million watts. That’s 6000 degrees on the surface and 15 million degrees towards its core. Some of the solar flares exploding from the surface of the sun is 400 million million million million million million million times stronger than the atomic bomb that blew up Hiroshima. It’s devastating. And Jesus says ‘that’s what I’m like’.
The Feast of Tabernacles was a celebration of the Exodus. At the Feast of Tabernacles they lit a giant Candelabra, a giant lamp in the Temple. The Candelebra symbolized the cloud of smoke and the pillar of fire which led their ancestors through the wilderness after they left Egypt. But it didn’t only lead them it protected them (Exodus 14). The cloud and fire is the very presence of God and it’s unapproachable. When Moses went up the mountain for the commandments the thick cloud hovered around the mountain and no one was allowed up the mountain or they would die (Exodus 19.12). And when they finally established themselves in Israel and built their Temple the cloud filled the Temple. Now it’s the end of the feast, and it’s always a sad end. No one likes to take down the Christmas tree, but it’s worse for them, they have to blow out the Candelebra and they are reminded that God has not returned to the Temple. But Jesus comes standing in front of the Candelebra’s at the feast of Tabernacles at the Temple, not gentle, not docile, but crying out in a loud voice saying “I am the light of the world”. The weighty presence and power of God has returned and this time God approachable by all!
“…he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
After Jesus makes this declaration he demonstrates that he is not only approachable but that he draws near to those in need. He comes across a blind man. His disciples ask him a really insensitive and simplistic question; who sinned? It’s insensitive because they ask it within earshot of the blind guy. And it’s simplistic because they should have called to mind Job who suffers precisely because he is righteous. Sometimes the people we expect should be good to us are the ones who misunderstand us and disqualify us. A critical parent, a negative spouse, an insensitive word from a spiritual leader; they don’t have to say it but you feel it; ‘something’s wrong with him’.
But this man is not disqualified. Jesus says to them ‘I made him that way for God’s glory’. And no one was more qualified than Jesus to say this and disqualified than Jesus to understand this beggar. Jesus understands not only because he made you but because if you turn back a page, when Jesus first tells the Jewish leaders at the Temple on the Feast of Tabernacles that he is the light of the world they disqualify him (John 8.41). Essentially they call his mom sexually immoral, ‘you’re illegitimate, you’re disqualified’. And ultimately Jesus was disqualified. Not in the way they meant. But He was crucified and as he hung crying ‘My God why have you forsaken me’ he died forsaken so that you would have the love of the Father, he was disqualified to qualify us.
When Martin Luther became a priest he felt like he had to constantly fight off negative thoughts about himself. It’s like a voice was in his head telling him that he couldn’t become a priest because he wasn’t good enough. Here’s how he dealt with it:
“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: “I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!”
Jesus comes to qualify you! There are so many reasons we may feel disqualified to shine our lights publicly but there’s a greater reason to ignore them all. His name is Jesus, the great light come into the world to destroy darkness. Allow the magnitude of His light bearing cross to warm you in into action.