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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


John 12:31-36 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me. This He said, signifying what death He should die. The people answered Him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man? Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the Light with you. Walk while ye have the Light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have Light, believe in the Light, that ye may be the children of Light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide Himself from them.

In the preceding verse 23, Jesus told His audience, as well as some of His apostles, that the hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified, meaning that, in the near future, He would be slain in order for God's plan of eternal salvation to begin its revelation to the world. "Now,"and "the hour is come,"as used in these passages, have the same meaning - in the near future, which proved to be only a few days in the future. Certainly the judgment of this world did not refer to the final judgment at the end of time. Translators say that "the judgment," as it is used here, means a crisis, which we know to be a crucial turning point in the course of revealing God's intended plan for offering salvation to all mankind, both Jew and Gentile. Since the beginning of time, there had been a conflict - a war, between light and darkness, good and evil, God and Satan, referred to in the lesson text as the prince of this world, the title he is also referred to in John 14:31; 16:11.

At the same time Jesus, the Son of man should be glorified, ...the prince of this world (is to) be cast out. Although Satan's influence on men and women of the world would continue, his power over mankind would be destroyed and his kingdom would cease. At that hour, the battle will be won, the darkness will be made light, and the evil elements of the world can be controlled by every man and woman that obediently follows the gospel of Christ Jesus. Notice this was fulfilled in Jesus' commission to the apostle Paul. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God, Paul was endowed to speak with authority to both Jew and Gentile, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me (Acts 26:18).

Continuing His discourse, as found in the lesson text, Jesus said, And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me. Indeed, in a few days hence, Jesus was lifted up on the cross of Calvary and slain. And three days after His burial, He was lifted up from His grave. Finally, after appearing before multitudes, including His apostles, He was lifted up into heaven, where He is now seated at the right hand of God. Jesus was to draw all men to Him; not only the Jews from the nation of Israel, but also all other people from the Gentile nations of the world. By saying that He would be lifted up, Jesus signified what death He should die, that is, what kind, or manner, of death He would be made to suffer. Stoning was the method of Jewish execution, however, Jesus was to be slain under Roman authority. Their executions were carried out by being nailed to a cross, lifted up, secured in an upright position, and left there suspended between heaven and earth until death occurred.

Those that accepted Jesus as Christ, the Son of God, could not comprehend His death. The religious leaders that interpreted the Old Testament law and prophecies for the people, had taught them that the promised Messiah would establish His kingdom on earth, and His reign would be forever. That being their understanding, they questioned Jesus saying that the Son of man must be lifted up, that is, slain. They were so confused about it that they asked Him, if You must die then who is this Son of man spoken of throughout the Old Testament by the prophets of God, possibly referring specifically to Daniel 7:13; 8:17? To this point of Jesus' ministry, the Jewish nation, including His own apostles, did not understand that the kingdom, over which Christ would rule forever, would not be temporal or earthly. Rather, it would be a spiritual kingdom over which He would reign from His throne in heaven.

In the following two verses, Jesus did not give them a direct answer to their question. Why? Because, as John explained in previous writings, the hour of His death, and the full revelation of God's will,had not yet come (See John 2:4; 7-6; 7:30; 8:20). Instead, referring to Himself as the Light, he told them that His radiance would shine on them for a little while. He admonishes them to walk in the Light, that is, to believe in Him, follow Him, and obey His teachings that were confirmed by His compassionate miracles while He was physically walking with them on earth. From this teaching, we also learn that we have only a short time to abide on earth, walk in His light, obey the will of His Father, and work out our own hope of eternal salvation. Just as Jesus warned His disciples to closely follow Him, lest darkness (false teachings) come upon you, so we are likewise warned of the deceiving darkness of false teachers. Jesus also assured His disciples then, as well as now: he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. Matthew Henry's comment on this phrase gives us this meaning: when one walks in darkness they do not know the way in which they are walking, nor do they know where they are walking toward. We need the Light of Jesus Christ in our lives to guide us in the right spiritual direction, as well as the ultimate goal to reach, where we can spend a rewarding eternity in the glory of God, our Creator.

While ye have Light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of Light. While walking in the Light (obediently following Jesus), His disciples had the lightofthe knowledge of salvation available only in the promised Messiah. As Jesus revealed Himself to them, as well as us today, as the Savior, so all are to believe that He is the true Light. Surrendering to Him and His light, both they at that time, and us today, will not be lost in spiritual darkness, misled, or deceived. All obedient followers of God's, through His Son, Christ Jesus, will become, and remain the children of Light - they will become obedient children of God for as long as they walk His light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide Himself from them. Some think that He became mysteriously invisible and disappeared. However, most are of the opinion that He merely departed from them and retired for the evening in Bethany, as was His custom.

Although Jesus ultimately departed from them for a season, we, as His followers, are never to depart from the light of His message of eternal salvation made available through His sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary, which took place only a few days after the event recorded here by His apostle, John.