John 12: 35-36 (Confirmation Sunday, 2015)
“Walk in the Light of Christ”
We heard today that the Lord spoke his Words of power and created all that there is. On Day One he used his voice to call into being one thing: Light. Paul wrote: “God who said: ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthian 4: 6). The concept of Light is a big deal to God. It calls attention to his creative power, His Son, and the work of his Spirit through the Word.
Now While You Have It
“You are going to have the light just little while longer.” Jesus made a big about Light, too. He called himself the “Light of the World.” On that night before he died, Jesus was finishing his three year instruction of his disciples. He was preparing them for the Lord’s Supper. He was preparing them for a life of ministry. He was preparing them to defend his truths. He was preparing them for eternal life Heaven. John and the other writers spill a bunch of ink over things He said on Maundy Thursday. Jesus was saying: Let this sink in while I am still with you. Embrace this moment of face to face instruction. Embrace and walk in this Light while I am still here, so that walking in this Light is part of you after I leave you.
Jesus was embarking on events that led to darkness. Wicked men were to carry out his sacrificial death. He faced the darkness of hell, abandoned by his Father on the cross. He faced the darkness of death in a cave of stone. Even after his Resurrection, he would only be with them only another 40 days. We just celebrated his Ascension. We know that he has not abandoned us, but is with us to the very end of the age. But he promises his Light through the Gospel in Word and Sacrament. That is where his Light shines into our hearts and shows us the path that leads to eternity with Him.
Your walk through the catechism with pastor is drawing to a close. But your walk with Jesus has just begun. He is your Light. His “Word is a lamp to your feet and a light for your path.” (Psalm 119: 105). Walk in that Light! Put your new confirmation Bibles and devotional materials to good use. Keep your catechisms in a place where you can continue to uses them. Take a walk daily through the Word. Surround yourselves with people who are walking in His Light and are walking with Jesus. Rejoice with those who say, let us go to the house of the Lord (Psalm 122: 1)! Loving parents, concerned classmates, encouraging church members, and people you have yet to meet will encourage you to remain in Christ’s light. Embrace this thorough instruction as the source of Light for further insight into the Spirit’s wisdom for your life. Walk in the Light of Christ, by walking with Jesus and his Word. Embrace others who will help you continue this walk in Christ.
Later When Darkness Comes
Jesus warned: “ … before the darkness overtakes you.” There was to be darkness for the disciples that night. It did not take long for Judas to run into the night, willingly, not only to forsake his Savior, but to betray him and reject his Light. Peter, who confessed what you will shortly confess - I would rather die than fall way from you – let the darkness of persecution rob him of his convictions. Instead of walking with Jesus, he denied that he even knew him. Eventually, they would all let the darkness blind them to Jesus and fall away that night. The darkness would overtake them, that very night! The presence of soldiers, mobs, enemies, and those who serve the Prince of Darkness (the devil) were in full force the hours before Christ was crucified. It does not take much darkness to cloud the judgment of God’s children of light. There is darkness and you will encounter it. Jesus knew that for his disciples and he knows that about you.
There is darkness and you will encounter it! You have been warned of your spiritual foes. The darkness takes shape in the devil’s temptations and his deceiving lies. He loves to cover your eyes from the Light of God’s Word. The darkness takes the shape of seeming friends who draw on your want to be wanted. They are interested only in leading you away from light to join their sad company of darkness. The darkness lies deeply inside your own sinful self. Often the ideas for sinning are your very own ideas … ideas for abandoning the Light of Jesus for living in the darkness. “The man who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.”
There is Light and you will continue to encounter it. In the Light of God’s Word is our Savior who gave his life for you. In the Light of Christ is forgiveness for every sin. In the Light of Christ is power in the face of darkness, temptation and evil. In the Light of Christ is comfort for days of loneliness. In the Light of Christ is the reminder of your baptisms. In that Light there is Christ’s body and blood together with the bread and wine to shine the Light of God’s grace in your hearts. Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. His light scatters the darkness of sin and brings in the Light of grace.
“Walk in the Light while you have the light ... Put your trust in the light while you have it.” When I was young, my classmates often received some glow-in-the-dark gifts from our teachers at Christmas-time. One in particular was an image of Jesus. You know how glow-in-the-dark things work. They get exposed to bright light, and when the darkness comes they continue to glow … for a little while. They are not the source of the light, so they need the light again and again in order to keep working. You are a glow-in-the-dark child of Christ. He is your source of light. He will cause you to shine when the darkness comes. Return to that source often so that “your light shines before men, and they praise your Father in heaven for it.” (Matthew 5:16).
Finally: “Put your trust in the light … so that you may be sons of light …” On Maundy Thursday night Jesus was preparing them for the Lord’s Supper. He gave them the Supper to fill their hearts with Light. His heart is to spend eternity with them and all his children ... with you! “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine … until that Day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” On that Jesus was also interested in their eternity with him. He is interested in your eternity, too!
You trust in Jesus. He paid the ransom price for your sins. He proved himself to be your Savior and the Son of God when he rose from the dead. From your mother’s arms he has blessed you on your way. He will now shine his Light on the pathways that lead to a daily walk with his Word. He will shine the Light that leads to your eternal life. You are sons of Light. As sons you stand to inherit a place in his Father’s kingdom. You will now continue that walk with many trips to the Lord’s Table to drink of the fruit of the vine and partake in his body and blood. Those trips to the Lord’s Supper will be reminders of the joyful union we will share with Jesus, the Light of the World in a place where there will be no more darkness.
Even though we are weeks in to the Easter Season, an Epiphany hymn comes to mind for our closing thought; because Jesus, your pastor, your families and friends are most interested today in your eternity… that you may walk forever:
In the Heav’nly country bright
Need they no created light;
You its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
You its Sun which goes not down.
There forever may we sing: Alleluias to our King! (CW 83: 5). Amen.