Sermon – August 12, 2018
Codes are used all around us; we make use of them on our phones, with every acronym we employ, and even in passing conversations when trying to keep things private. John’s symbolism is much like a code, while it is not breakable in through the use of math or logic. Rather, John’s symbolism provides insight into his Gospel, into the nature of who Jesus is and what he has come to do. Today, John allows us a glimpse into the nature of the symbolism that he will use throughout his Gospel, so that we might read a believe that Jesus truly is the Christ.
1. Creator of true light
John presses in upon the idea of the Word as God, focusing on his work in creation. But not simply to reiterate the point that the Word is God; John does this for a reason related to his gospel. Just as the Word gave to man the ability to relate and fellowship with God, intellectually and emotionally in creation, now the Word again gives this ability to men through the work of redemption. He provides light, which is true life for all people. John again provides an understanding of the work of Jesus by speaking about the two-fold nature of the dark: it can neither stop the work of the light, nor does it understand it. Sin is both weak and dumb in the face of our Lord.
2. Warning of lesser lights
While John the Baptist gets much play in the other Gospels, his inclusion here takes a slightly different feel. John the apostle shows us the Baptist’s importance, noting that, just as Jesus, he was sent by God. But John was not the light, he was the moon, whose light was just meant as a reflection and a pointing at the true light of Jesus. Here is a warning for us: let us beware of making things that point at the brilliance of Jesus into the ultimate things themselves. Community is not an end in itself, important as it is. Causes are not ends in themselves, no matter the importance. These things are there, and have their importance, not because of what they are, but because they point so well to who Jesus is.
3. Warning of fake lights
John notes in verse 9 that the Word is not just a light, but the “true” light. Other lights had arisen, frauds claiming to be Messiahs and Saviors that proved to be anything but. While we are possibly led astray by false-Messiahs in human form, we are much more likely pulled away by concepts and institutions that declare they hold salvation and light. We can educate our problems away. We can legislate our problems away. We can science our problems away. But these things are all false Saviors, always giving us promises but never coming through. Jesus is the only true light, the only source of life, the only way to the Father, the only Savior. Trust in no one else!