The Rejection of the Light
Text: John 1:9-11
When we think of light, we usually think of it as either dark, or light, or some degree in between. For us, light is on and off, it is present or it is absent. We are so familiar with it we think of it in very simplistic terms, but it’s far from simple.
Light is energy. A luminous, radiant energy, moving at a speed of 186,282 miles per second. And this energy wave hits the retina of a proper functioning eye and when it does that, it makes things visible. It illuminates things, and where there is light, we see. Where there is no light, we do not see.
In similar fashion, when the spiritual light of Christ hits the living soul, everything is illuminated in the spiritual realm. The Light, according to John, is none other than the Life and the Word. He is the Word because in Him God speaks. He is the Life because through Him God gives life. He is the Light because by Him everything in the spiritual realm is illuminated. Apart from Him, there is no word from God. Apart from Him there is no life. And apart from Him, there is no true understanding–all is darkness.
So John introduces us to the one who illuminates the spiritual realm. And on the surface it might seem that this prologue is a bit all over the place. That John doesn’t really know what he’s trying to say. Like he just pulling a few profound topical ideas together that he’s going to trace through the life of Christ.
But what he’s doing here is identifying the Light, and by the Light he reveals key spiritual truths. The light of Christ will shine and reveal in this section the nature of true ministry. The Light will shine and reveal the very nature of the Christ Himself. The Light will shine and reveal the nature of sinners. It will shine and reveal the nature of believers, and it will even illuminate the nature of God, all in the prologue. The arrival of the divine Light drives the darkness away from these foundational realities.
So last week we saw John turn the Light on the nature of a true ministry. We had been dealing with the eternal Son of God in v1-5, and then we deal with a man named John, and we see the purpose believers have that they are to bear witness to the true Light.
I. DESPITE THE TREMENDOUS FAVOUR
1. To men in general – v9-10…he was in the world. ‘lighteth every man’ – give knowledge. Does that mean he has given light to all? v10 contradicts it. It is an outward general light given to the world. Jesus Christ came a brought a certain light into the world.
v9 – Jesus came as the true Light to all the people of the world i.e. He came to lighten you. And it doesn’t matter what you’re background is, you have a responsibility to respond to the Light Christ brings to the world.
What a condescension in the Son of God. He was in the world to give light to every man. Imagine He had never come. Oh what a hopeless state we would be in. Take Christ out of your life believer, what have you got? Your sin, your guilt, your utter hopelessness. But Christ was in the world.
“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Cor 5:19
Why am I here? Because God was in Christ, and God through Christ came into the world to reconcile the world unto himself! What a marvel. What a tremendous favour for a bunch of sinners.
We’re going to see through this gospel that there’s no distinction of people. The educated religious elite are going to reject the Light, but does that mean the Light is not for the religious elite? No, because Nicodemus, a ruler among them receives the Light.
Does that mean it’s only for the religious and those who live on the clean side of the broad road? No, because the Samaritan woman of John 4 was not religious and nor righteous at all, but she received the Light.
Does that mean it’s only for those that can physically see the Light? No, because a man blind from birth, see’s the Light in John 9.
2. To the Jew specifically – v11 “he came unto his own” He was born a Jew, and dealt first with the Jews. We see their privilege in Rom 9:4-5 “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.”
But what is Paul’s lament in that chapter? He could wish himself accused for this kinsmen according to the flesh. For Christ came unto His own, and His own largely rejected Him. And in Matt 23 Christ declares the condemnation upon the whole nation for their continual rejection of God’s messengers and finally of Himself.
And we have men like John Hagee telling people lies about the Jews. Suggesting they don’t need the gospel. But the Jew, for their rejection, lives under a double blindness. They cried out ‘His blood be upon us and on our children’ and God has held them to their word, bringing awful judgements on their heads. And why? Because He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. Oh, what are the tragic consequences of rejecting Jesus Christ!
II. DISREGARDING THE TIMELESS FACT – “the world made by him”
John underscores that which he had already declared, and I want us to know that this is in no doubt. The world was made by Christ. It is not the product of evolution. Timothy Keller and some of these men in The Gospel Coalition want us to doubt Genesis 1. They want us to doubt the meaning of the word ‘day’ (yom).
I say this, if God wanted to tell us that He made the world in 6 literally days of 24 hours, what other way could He have described Creation that would have made it any clearer? These evangelicals are capitulating under the pressures from the secular world.
God made the world, and He made it in 6 literal days. And if you take God out of the equation, you can’t even make sense of the world. You cannot know anything for certain for nothing is absolute, you therefore end up denying the ability to know anything at all, and once you deny the ability to know, you’ve lost the very ability to make a rational argument against the existence of God.
III. DECLARES THE TRAGIC FOLLY – “the world knew him not…his own received him not”
v10 – great tragedy. Here we have the rejection of the world. But why? Why does the world reject Him? Why is there so much unbelief?
1. The world does not recognize Jesus – there’s a spiritual problem. His own creation was estranged from him. Nature recognized the authority of Jesus Christ, and when He spoke He still the storm in an instant.
2. The world does not recognize Jesus – there’s a moral problem. The world did not want Him. Jn 3:19. Even at His birth there was the moral rejection of Herod, who sent his soldiers to slaughter the boys of Bethlehem. And this continued throughout His life, right to the point when they chose Barabbas over Jesus.
And this is how the world want it. They want pleasure over pardon. They want sin over salvation. They want hell over heaven.
And ones the response to Christ reveals the true nature of the person. There is nothing good about any who live in defiance to the gospel. Rejection of the non-negotiable truths of the gospel is the most tragic and damning sin of all sins. Did you get that? Name your sin, and I say the worst sin is rejection of the Light.
Oh that you could see your sin for what it is!! If I could lift the lid off Hell and point at the millions of tormented souls who sat in church knowing the gospel, and you ask me how they ended up there, it’s quite simple. All sins open the door to hell, but only one sin closes the door to heaven – unbelief!!
For the believing murderer, the door of heaven is open. For the believing adulterer, the door of heaven is open. But for the unbelieving church-goer, the door of heaven is shut, and only the jaws of the doors to hell are open to receive you.
But v11 highlights an even greater tragedy, as we’ve already noted. Without logic nor reason, the Jews rejected Him. They should have recognized Him. What ignorance and ingratitude. And his ministry hadn’t long commenced when they started seeking how they might destroy Him, “And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.” Mk 3:6.
You know why he angered them? The same reason you’re angered when I tell you that you can’t make yourself right with God. Before Jesus Christ, the Pharisees thought themselves to be great moralists. Their light was like that of a candle in a dark room. But when the sun rose, and Jesus Christ began to shine His light in the world, their candles were seen to be ineffective.
Jesus Christ brought the light man really needs, and the Pharisees hated the fact that His truth threatened their moral standard, their traditions, and their authority.
I wonder is there a Pharisee here tonight? Am I speaking to a religious hypocrite? It’s time to stop hiding behind your moral standard. You’re guilty before God. That’s the conclusion of a converted Pharisee who realized that even though he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, he was a lost sinner. What about you?