Light and darkness. Day and night. The two cannot exist together for they are incompatible. What is more interesting though is that whenever these two come together, it is the light that dominates and dissipates the darkness. The darkness and the night cease to exist at the coming of the light. The darkness has no power over the light but rather the light has power over the darkness.
These analogies appear in many of the teachings of the Bible. And just as light and darkness cannot co-exist, evil cannot co-exist with the goodness of God. In this section of scripture we see that Jesus is the light.
But there is a very different perspective on the respective powers of darkness and light that we can observe in this scripture that is both a lesson and a warning to us all.
The Light is With You for a Little Longer
Jesus was with the disciples but He knew his time was short for the penultimate event that would change the world forever was soon to occur…his death and resurrection.
He instructed His disciples to follow Him, learn from Him, understand His ways and to immerse themselves in His teachings. They needed to understand fully what He was teaching and also what was to come for the responsibility to preach the gospel to the world was to fall on their shoulders.
His disciples, and especially the twelve, were hand-picked by Jesus to do a job. But they had to learn their “trade” so to speak before they could go out into the world and lead others to Christ.
Jesus is the light of the world and He was telling His people they needed to walk in the light. They needed to take in His teachings and absorb them, not just as knowledge, but as a means to have their lives transformed.
Yet even though Jesus knew He was soon to leave them, He promised they would not be left desolate. And we will see in upcoming chapters how He planned to ensure they had the help they would need to do their work through the receiving of the Holy Spirit.
Walk Lest the Darkness Overtake You
But there is also a strong warning in these scriptures about light and darkness. Note what it says in verse 35:
Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, lest the darkness overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.
I have already mentioned that light and darkness cannot exist together, and likewise evil cannot exist in the presence of the Lord. But it is possible for the darkness to overtake and then overcome you if you are not walking with Christ.
We are called to walk with Jesus for Jesus is the light. We are not instructed to run and we should not stop.
Think about walking for a moment. A walk is a slow forward progression leading to a destination. Any person with even a moderate level of fitness can walk quite long distances if they take it steady and keep moving. And it is a pleasant experience for you can take in the sights and sounds around you as you walk.
Unless you are a superb athlete, if you run you will not get far before you need to stop. But even while running you will miss much and your focus will be internal, on yourself. You will be focussed on your breathing, your heart rate, wiping sweat from your eyes, the growing ache in your legs, the jarring of your feet hitting the pavement. Your focus will be all about you until you have to stop in exhaustion, bent over and gasping for air.
What Jesus is telling us in this scripture is that we need to walk. We need to progress continually forward so that our focus is not on ourselves, like the runner, but on what is going on around us. How do you, “Love thy neighbour” if you are focussed on yourself? But when we walk we follow Jesus who leads us. If you try to run you end up streaking away from Jesus and are left alone and unprotected as described in Isaiah 30:15-18. And the important point about that scripture is that it was by returning and resting in the Lord that you will be saved, not running off ahead and away from Him.
But the warning also extends to stopping. You cannot stop walking with the Lord. You cannot stop seeking and progressing with the Lord. You must continue and push on.
Why? “Lest the darkness overtake you.”
Jesus is the light and while we walk with Him we are basking in the light of His word, His truth and His life. But if we stop walking, He will continue on taking the light with him and we will be left in darkness. The darkness is following behind for where there is no light, there is darkness.
The darkness of the evil of this world is following and ready to overtake and overcome anyone who stops walking with the Lord. That is why we must keep learning, growing and maturing in Jesus Christ. To stay in the light and to overcome in this world.
Nobody can afford to rest on their laurels. Nobody can ever say they have learned enough or they know enough or say they have finished the walk. Who in this world has ever attained the perfection of the Lord and could say they have “made it.” Even the apostle Paul, perhaps one of the greatest of the teachers appointed by the Lord and who had to learn many things the hard way said of himself in 1 Corinthians 4:3-4,
3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself.
4 I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.
He had reached a place where he was unaware of anything he was doing wrong when he wrote this letter. He was blameless before the Lord in accordance with the teachings of the New Covenant and the gospel of Jesus Christ. He KNEW how it all worked and was applying those teachings of freedom from sin, freedom from law and righteousness by faith proclaimed in the Gospel.
But even though he knew of nothing against himself, he did not consider he had “made it.” Final judgement for Paul rested with the Lord, just as it does for each of us. And when we achieve that same place that Paul was in, if we ever do in this lifetime, we too cannot stop. Like Paul we need to keep steadily moving forward with the Lord. We MUST keep walking with Jesus since Jesus is the light lest the darkness overtake us and overwhelm us.
And as Jesus added at the end of His statement, “…he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.” A man walking in darkness might as well be blind. And in the spiritual sense they are blind for they don’t know where they are going.
Believe in The Light
Finally we need to believe in the light. Jesus is the light and our faith in Him is what keeps us in the light. Believe in Jesus so that He can give you the gifts and blessings that will KEEP you in His light.
Faith is the key. He will continue to teach you and help you see the truth as you continue to seek His ways through faith. This is how we walk with Him as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “…for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
If we lose our faith we stop and the darkness overtakes us. Satan will try to overtake you be sowing the seeds of darkness in your mind. What are the seeds of darkness? Doubt, guilt, fear, condemnation, thoughts of not being good enough and so on.
But if we hold onto our faith as a shield we can overcome Satan’s seeds of darkness. Your faith is a weapon for the purpose of overcoming such evil as we see in Ephesians 6:16, “…taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.”
His darts, which are the seeds of the darkness trying to overtake us, will be quenched and overcome while we hold onto our faith in Jesus Christ. And even if we have to hold that shield in front of us all the time, we can still walk and move forward like ancient soldiers would cover their forward progress with shields.
Believe in Jesus who is the light and know that your faith will carry you through and the darkness will not touch you.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Alex Bruda)