“The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
That is a question theologians and lay people have been struggling with even since, well ever since Christ came to earth. Who was Jesus? Who was Christ? You can get answers from a variety of faith traditions, and there may not be much overlap. The crowd that Jesus was speaking to may have had a different definition than scripture and the law had. In fact I am pretty sure of it. The crux was how will the Christ remain forever? As a physical presence? But that is what Jesus is trying to warn them, that the form of the Messiah now may not be the form of the Messiah in future. Not that Christ will change, but that the way of interacting with the Messiah might.
“Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.” (Reference: John 12:34-36 )
Imagine you are walking into a dark, unfamiliar room. You strike a match and in the seconds that are left you see the room clearly and the way it is laid out. But when the match goes out, you are in the dark again. If you wasted the moments of match light thinking of other things or focusing on just one thing, you will be ill-equipped to navigate the room. But if you pay close attention to what the match light showed you, you will know how to make your way through the room. In the history of humanity, Christ’s walking on the earth was like striking a match in a dark room. We may feel like we are in the dark, but if we carry the memory of the light and what illuminated we can make our way through this world.
This may not be the best of metaphors or analogies, but I hope it serves to think about what Jesus said in a different way. And may the match of Christ light your spirit so that you can make your way through life. Selah!
But before we leave this passage, let me recount what the editors of Reading the Anabaptist Bible and historic Anabaptist believer they quoted said. The editors said, “What did Jesus mean when he spoke about the light in John 12? Balthasar Hubmaier undestood “light” in these verses to mean the light of faith. This light must enter and dwell in the human heart. Where this living faith dwells, there will be fruit in abundance.” Hubmaier wrote, “ As the eye of the human being has the ability to see the light and yet cannot see unless the light enters beforehand into the eye, so does the human being have the ability to see the light of faith through the Word of God, which he cannot see unless the light enters beforehand into his soul by heavenly illumination.” Amen.