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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Gospels

Chapter 73 - John 12:35-36 - Light and its Little While Light & Truth: The Gospels by Bonar, Horatius




Light And Its Little While.


     "Then, Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you: walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them."-John 12: 35-36.



     The speaker here was one who knew what light was, what it could do, where it was to be found, and how terrible it must be to be without it. He had come from the land of light, where there was no darkness, and where all were walking in the light. In that home of light there were angels of light and spirits of light. All sons of light! He speaks, therefore, with authority, and we know that his words are true-

     I. The light. Light is that which shews or reveals all objects, as darkness is that which hides. Our earthly sun daily reveals to us man and the things of man; the heavenly sun reveals to us God and the things of God. Christ is Himself that light. He is both the light and the sun. As the life, He is the light. The life is the light of man. He is the light of the world; the true light; beside which all other lights are false and unreal. That which shines from his face, from his works, from his words, from his cross, is light. "We look to Him and are lightened." He reveals the Father; the Father's love, the Father's righteousness, the Father's character; all the riches of his grace; and we, opening our eyes to take in this light, are thereby enlightened. That which shines into us is "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ." Light for a dark world! Light for a dark soul! This is our message.

     II. The light with us. The first gleam of it came in the first promise. After that the rays multiplied. But still "the light" had not come. But when "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us," then it came. It remained here in human form for thirty-three years. It is still, though impersonally, "with us "; and it will yet be more gloriously with us when He comes again. After Jesus had spoken of the light being with them, he withdrew Himself,-to shew that his presence was the light, and to shew the difference between light and darkness, his presence and his absence. Yes; the light is with us still. In a sense it is withdrawn, yet still with us ; still in our world; still shining in its brightness out of the testimony concerning "the light" left us in the gospels. There the true light still shineth. We may withdraw from it, but it never withdraws from us. We may shut our eyes and our windows, but the light still shineth. God is light, God is love, is still the burden of that testimony. The light is not far off nor clouded, but nigh and clear; not starlight nor moonlight, but sunlight,-pure, bright, and gladdening. The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not. O dark world, when wilt thou let in the light! O dark soul, O child of darkness, when wilt thou be enlightened.

     III. The little while of light. The special little while referred to here was that of our Lord's presence on earth,-a blessed little while indeed!  He so near, so gracious, so willing to bless! But there are other little whiles. Jerusalem had her little while. Israel had her little while. The churches have all had or are having their little while. The nations have had or are having their little while. Each congregation has its little while. Each soul has its little while. A little while of the gospel, a little while of invitations from God, a little while of Sabbaths, and sermons, and sacraments, and providences,-and all is done. The light departs. O man what has the light done for thee? How hast thou been dealing with it? Hast thou let it in or shut it out? Thy little while of light may soon be at an end. The night cometh! The eternal darkness is at hand! Jesus is coming; but not with light; only with darkness to the despisers of the light.

     IV. The using of the light. Walking is here a general expression for the whole of a man's life, in all its actings, and changes, and movements. Our Lord's meaning is, "Use this light for whatever you do, so long as you have it: do everything in your daily life, in this light." Use this light then, is the Lord's message to us. The process of using it is then described.

     (1.) Believe in the light. Receive the Father's testimony to this light, to its genuineness, its excellency, its divinity, its suitableness, its varied qualities and fitnesses to meet the wants of a child of darkness. Believe in this light, and believe in no other. The light of reason, intellect, literature, science, will do nothing for your soul. At best it is but starlight, "distinct but distant; clear, but oh how cold"; still oftener is it the meteor, or the lightning, or the volcano, or the taper or the spark of your own kindling. Believe in this heavenly and divine light. It will suffice. There is no darkness too dense for it either within you or without. There is light for the darkness. God proclaims his testimony concerning this true light. Receive that testimony, and, on receiving it, receive the light. It wants admission into you! Oh admit it!

     (2.) Become children of the light. He into whom the light enters becomes a child of light. The light rests on him; surrounds him; abides with him; dwells in him; pervades him. It guides him; heals him; comforts and cheers him; purifies him; assimilates him to himself. He becomes in all senses a child of light and of the day. He becomes, also, a light to others, -a light to the world. And walking in the light, he is not only filled with holy gladness, but he shines; his light shines; the dark world is the better for his being in it. He shines in his daily walk and public life. He is in his own way a measure what "the light" was when here,-a "light of the world."

     V. The refusal to use the light. This may be called neglect, or delay, or hatred, or rejection,-still it is refusal to make use of the light. It is preference of the darkness to the light; it is preference of the works of darkness to the works of light. It is something positive and willful whatever men may say. No man remains in darkness for lack of light, but because of his own shutting out the light. This refusal to make use of the light leads to stumbling, to straying, to complete mistaking of the way, and losing the destination. It leads to this now; it ends in this more terribly. For the withdrawal of the light is at hand. The darkness comes,-the deep, the eternal darkness, in which men, who have rejected the light, shall stumble and wander for ever. O these eternal stumblings! These everlasting wanderings! O these dark mountains, on which the sinner's feet shall stumble! O that gross darkness, that palpable darkness, that blackness of darkness, which is to be the sinner's portion and dwelling-place forever! Night without morning! Everlasting midnight!

     The true light now shineth! This is our message. All the love of God is in it. All the joy of heaven is in it. All the glory of the kingdom is in it. It shineth now; it may soon pass away! Oh use it sinner, use it. Allow it to enter; and, in entering, to transform that dark dungeon of your soul into a very heaven of light.