Sermon Series: Jesus the Light of the world
Light has the power not only to make things known, but it also has the power to make things clearer. The light of revelation reveals the unknown, but the light of clarity brings things into focus. The light of revelation expands our knowledge base and brings us into a state of knowingness. Once some thing has been revealed to us we can no longer say we do not know, because the light of revelation has made it known. The light of clarity improves our understanding and dispels all doubts to the contrary. Like the light of revelation, once some thing has been made clear to us we can no longer say we do not understand, because the light of clarity has defined that which we previous did not understand.
There are many nagging and vexing questions that plague us, and can only be answered after we have stood in the light of clarity. As I sit here today to craft and compose this message, there are areas of uncertainty that I, and I am sure you too must contend with and face. There are matters where I am left wondering, how do I know when something is as it should be, or when it is time to act and take action? How can I be sure that I am walking and living within the will of God for my life? As I consider these and other queries I am reminded of something called the Aha phenomenon or the Aha moment. The Aha moment is that moment and point in time when it all becomes clear. Some describe it as the moment when the light blub in our head is turned on. It is a moment unlike any other and it is a moment we never forget.
Aha moments are powerful. They are powerful because they are breakthrough moments. Triggered by some benign activity, action, or word, in an instant we gain an understanding of something that has baffled and perplexed us. Aha moments are defining moments. They are defining because they are life-changing moments. A life that has been stagnant and unfulfilling in the blink of an eye is imbued with a sense of meaning, purpose, mission, and urgency. Aha moments make things clearer. They help us to see all of the pieces are in place.
If you have ever had an Aha moment, you know what I am talking about. Aha moments are so transforming that as you encounter people who do not seem to get it, you want to shake them because you realize that what they are in need of is an Aha moment. Joseph was in need of an Aha moment. He was desperately in need of clarity.
Joseph was faced with a dilemma. As the narrative opens he discovers that his bride to be is not who he thought she was. The picture of a pristine virgin has been displaced by the untimely news that she is pregnant. While the Bible does not detail specifics about what Joseph thought or felt, it is safe to say that our brother was devastated, wounded, and probably deeply hurt. How could he possibly ever recover from such a traumatic event? When we compound a damaged and broken psyche with two other competing forces, namely the law and his heart we have a man facing a dilemma.
The law had Joseph bound, yet he was also conflicted in his heart. The law stated that if a woman was caught in the act of adultery both the man and woman were to be stoned to death. However, even though Joseph was deeply hurt by the news of Mary’s pregnancy he felt stoning was too harsh a punishment for her. In an attempt to temper justice with mercy, Joseph must try to harmonize what he thinks and feels with the reality of the situation. After contemplating and weighing his options, Joseph decides to dissolve the relationship.
In response to Joseph’s quandary, God sends an angel with the express purpose of making things clearer to Joseph. Once again, we see that God always responds in times of crisis. Of course, some would say, why does God wait until a crisis moment? The only answer to that question is God operates in God’s time. I suspect that had God laid things out for Joseph at a prior moment in time, Joseph probably would not have been reticent or reluctant to receive what God was communicating to him. Regardless of why God waited or questioning God’s timing, we should rejoice in the knowledge that God dispatches His angels to minister to us in times of need and crisis.
The angel tells Joseph:
- Mary’s condition is the work of The Holy Spirit
- The child in Mary’s womb is not an ordinary child, but rather a very special child
What is so special about Him?
- He will be the Savior of the world
- He will be the fulfillment of the prophetic oracles
- He will be the presence of God in our midst
Researchers at Northwestern University discovered that the split second before an Aha moment there is a burst of electrical brain activity. Joseph’s response indicates he gets it. He understands. The angel’s announcement provided Joseph with the burst of electrical brain activity he needed to produce an Aha moment. The angel’s words helped Joseph to look beyond Mary and see the Jesus in Mary. Joseph thought Mary created the problem, but the angel helped him to see that Mary was carrying the solution. We need to be careful about whom we label as troublemakers and creators of some of the problems we face. The same people we apply these labels to we may discover at a future point were the individuals or groups that God was using to carry an answer or solution we were needed.
In a split second Joseph comes to a few different realizations and an overall understanding. He realizes that while it is easier to walk away, you will learn more and gain more if you stay and see things through. One of the things that I personally marvel at today is the ease with which men and women jump in and out of relationships. After a few years any given single could have already been in a string of five or more broken relationships. One of the things that Joseph grasped in that moment that seems to have eluded us today is that commitment means staying together. Rather than running through a thousand and one different partners how about finding one and staying with that one – it is called seeing things through.
Joseph also realized that in order to discover a solution you sometimes have to stop looking at the problem. The sooner we accept our reality the sooner we can discover the solution, the answer, or the appropriate action we need to take. The more lamenting we do over a problem does not cause it to be any less real. In fact all crying and complaining does is make the pain hurt more. Why? The more we keep rehashing something awful that has happened to us the more we keep reliving it. Every time we bring it back up, we resurrect the experience and the accompanying pain. At some point we have to move on, turn the page, and get over it.
As the angel helped Joseph to shift his eye level so that he could see beyond the present, Joseph discovered that what he perceived to be a problem was a solution waiting to present itself. Sometimes, the answers we are looking for will be found at the end of the questions we ask and sometimes the solutions we are searching for will be found beyond the problems we see.
On this day, Joseph came to an understanding that God has been trying to communicate to the church and to a large degree the world for over 2000 years. Joseph came to understand that Jesus is the Light of the World. As the Light of the World, Jesus is also the Light of Clarity. In other words, Jesus clarifies. What does Jesus clarify? Jesus clarifies:
1. God’s loves for the entire world by showing the world He alone is the Messiah come to extend God’s offering of salvation to the world through Him
2. God’s Word by being the Living Word He shows us how God’s Word can be made real, effectual, and fulfilled in our lives through Him
3. God’s presence by pitching His tent and making His home with us living and dwelling among us opening our eyes so that we can see God through Him
The truth is this is all good and well, but if we do not see Him as He is it really does not mean anything. Until we have our own Aha moment we are condemned to live and sift through our own problems. This is one of the chief reasons why it is imperative that we come into, walk and live in the Light of Christ. As we come into the light of Christ, Jesus clarifies and helps us to discover that:
a) God will not allow His people to perish in their mess
b) God wants to fulfill His Word in the lives of His people
c) God is always closer than we think
In the light of clarity we will find that whatever problems we face, Jesus is the solution.