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The Master Over Darkness

John 7:7-11
The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.’ After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, ‘Where is he?’ (NIVUK)

Jesus knew that He was in a conflict.  That is why He had come – to confront the Evil One and his wicked work – to conquer sin and death (1 John 3:8).  He was also a threat to the religious leaders who had been manipulated by the devil.  They loved the status of their position but did not want the Messiah to upset their power-games.  Initially they were suspicious of Him, but then became increasingly hostile to Jesus (John 8:44).  He did not hate anyone, but His light exposed their dark secrets (John 3:19-20).  His human half-brothers were also sinners (unlike Jesus the Son of God).  That is why they posed no holy threat to the fake righteousness of the religious leaders.  So, it was safe for them to go with the crowd from Galilee to the Festival of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, but Jesus chose not to be ambushed along the road because God’s time for His crucifixion had not yet come (John 7:30).  Instead, He travelled alone and unrecognised.

The focus of the Festival should have been to praise God, who wonderfully provided for His people during wilderness wanderings 1,500 years previously.  Instead, the religious leaders were looking out for Jesus - not to worship Him but to locate Him and kill Him (John 5:16-18).  Their zeal for God had been replaced by a jealous love of themselves, guarding their dark hearts against the light of God's truth.  Their worship was self-centred and, although they read God's Word at the Festival, they refused to submit to what He said (John 5:39-40).  Indeed, their ambition was to destroy Jesus (the Word of God) so that they could eliminate true holiness from their horizon, and live in the delusion of their self-created 'righteousness'.

Once people understand who Jesus is, He challenges everything we cherish.  Those who seek their own glory, or worship idols, do not want Jesus as their Master.  Those who want to control their life and the lives of others do not want Jesus to be their Lord.  Yes, they are content for Him to be a spiritual advisor, good teacher and moral example.  But they do not want to submit to Him as God the Son, the Creator, the Life-giver, Saviour and Judge of all.  So, to worship Him as King of kings and Lord of lords would require a miracle.  That miracle starts when people are willing to hear how the Bible describes Jesus and then respond to His call (Romans 10:9-13).

But how will they hear the gospel story, or desire to read the Bible? (Romans 10:14)  If you are a believer, then your task is to tell the truth about Jesus to people who are living in the darkness of their own deluded ego, or the darkness of confusion or oppression.  Only Jesus can illuminate their hearts and minds with His love and truth.  As workers in God’s family business (every believer is a working part of the kingdom of heaven) we need to share the Jesus-story and walk with our friends and colleagues in reading the Gospels in their own language.  Then pray that they will cooperate with God's Holy Spirit, and be saved.  Whatever they have done, they can be forgiven and welcomed into His kingdom.  He can still deal with their darkness because He is the Light of the World.

Holy God. I am glad that You do not play religious games, but You expose darkness in order that people will be convicted of their sin, repent and come into Your Light. I am sorry when I have not been serious about holiness and have been more interested in being recognised and applauded than for Your righteousness to be in my heart. And if there is hidden wickedness in my heart, please show me and give me grace to repent. Please help me to reset my focus on Jesus, so that I may worship Him truly and serve Him wholeheartedly. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams