Why didn’t Jesus stay?
I have been pondering that. God was born a man to bring his glorious light into our dark, broken, dying world. Walking our world, He announced, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV) Isaiah was right to say, however understated, that the people walking in darkness saw a great light. Oh, how desperately people needed the light of the world in that dark hour.
So, why did the light of the world leave?
The world is still dark, desperate for hope and healing and peace and comfort and direction and forgiveness. It has been dark ever since He left, and it feels darker than ever with war, addiction, hate, division, deceit, arrogance and assault surging stronger still. The old song echoes in my heart: “If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need Him now.” I cannot imagine the impact and power his great light would have among the people walking in darkness today.
Why, O why didn’t he stay?
So you and I could be the light of the world.
Ridiculous, I know. I wrestled to find words that would sound less audacious , arrogant and absurd. In the end, I found myself using the very words of Jesus, who never worried about sounding audacious or ridiculous.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV)
You are the light of the world. This is staggering to me. Jesus—the Light of the Word—commissions us to be the light of the world to the people around us. God calls us to offer comfort and hope and encouragement and healing and warning and guidance and forgiveness as if He Himself were directly present with them. The life of Jesus shows up in our very bodies. “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:10, NIV)
Jesus meets people in person through us, his followers, who inexplicably have been filled with the light of His presence. And so the Bible explains, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27, NIV) We are the body—hands and feet and face—of Jesus sent to be His light.
The plan is both absurd and brilliant. “You are the light of the World.” Millions of people take the personal presence of Jesus to the most remote or forgotten spots in the world—to hovels, hotels, huts, hostels, haciendas, houses and homeless shelters. The human Jesus inhabited one geographic point. The hands of Jesus could touch only the ones within an arm’s reach. His voice could only carry so far, even on a hill. But, in us, He meets people personally and touches them and shines in the darkness in spots all over the globe, wherever His followers live. And perhaps this lends light to a shocking claim Jesus made:
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12, NIV)
Could the “greater” be “more far-reaching? Jesus returns in body to the Father, commissioning us to be His body, the light of the world inhabiting hundreds of millions of spots across a dark world.
Whatever I have gotten wrong above, I know I am safe quoting these words of Jesus. “You are the light of the world.” When Jesus left, He did not leave the world light-less. By His Spirit, he handed the torch off to those who received his light, who have then passed it forward, one person at a time, right to us in this hour. We now have the extraordinary privilege and responsibility to speak out and live out and love out His light in our dark world. We are the light of the world, and we dare not hide that light in a world as desperate as ours.
[Feature photo by Pixaline on Pixabay.com]