The Gospel from 50,000 Feet


September 17, 2020

John 8:12-18 (NIV)

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”


It’s important, even essential, in studying the Bible to stay mindful of our location in any given story or book of the Bible. As we are now into the eighth chapter, let’s get some altitude so we can see where we’ve been and where we are headed.

There are two mega movements at play in John’s Gospel: darkness to light and death to life. Look back over the journey so far. Water to wine. Paralyzed man walks. Jesus heals the son of the Roman overlords of darkness. He walks into the darkness of the Samarian wilderness and into the life of a woman gripped by the shadows of shame. Don’t forget Nicodemus who came to Jesus secretly in the dark of night as a sign of his nascent readiness to break ranks with the darkness of religious control, break free from the death grip of legalism, and walk into the light of life.

Gaining yet more altitude, let’s look down on the bigger story of the rise and fall of Israel. We see God’s people dwelling once again in the promised land, yet this land now looks more like a desert expanse. Jesus, the God of the promise, enters into the wilderness night of this promised land as the Bread of Life, the Living Water, and the human tabernacle of the presence of almighty God.

Now, from the highest vantage point we can see the beginning of all things. “In the beginning . . . the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. . . And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen. 1:1-3).

And, yes, from the highest vantage point we can see the end of all things. “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Rev. 21:23).

As we descend back to the ground, let’s come back home to these words from the opening sentences of John: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5).

Finally, into this profound landscape of history, set in the endless expanse of eternity, we read these words from Jesus in today’s text.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Behold the stunning sweep of the gospel! Darkness and death give way to light and life. This is what God does, because it is who God is. And it’s all coming together into the brilliant resplendence of a thousand suns in the face of Jesus Christ.

This is the gospel we must proclaim into the darkness everywhere we find it—starting with our own lives: “Let there be light!” This is the gospel we must declare into the face of death everywhere we see it: “He is risen!”


Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, through whom you created all things and in him you hold all things together. He is our light and our life. We stand in awe of your sovereign genius as you move everything from darkness to light and from death to life. Come, Holy Spirit, and bring these movements into our lives for the sake of your great name being known in all the earth. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.


1. How does this story cause you to marvel at the wonder of it all?

2. Darkness to light. Death to life. How have you seen these movements at work in today’s world? In your life?

3. How are darkness and death wreaking havoc in your life? Where do you need light and life to break in? What would it mean to declare, “Let there be light” into this darkness, and “He is risen!” into this death?

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For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

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