This is the condemnation – that Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than Light because their deeds were evil. —John 3:19
The image of light in John’s gospel has lingered with me in my days over the past few weeks. In this darkest, coldest moment of our Wisconsin winter, the image of light is particularly alluring. As parents we deal daily with the darkness that pulls our children toward it. Their attitude towards reading scripture, the things they are drawn to in culture, and their sinful natures that cause typical sibling strife and relational struggle are all real.
But, then there are the moments where the Light breaks through. The moment when the cranky teen makes insightful and loving commentary on the nightly passage, the action by a middle boy that he connects to truth he has read, and the moment when the littlest stands wondering at God’s goodness as he ponders a piece of nature all happen, too. And I remember that the Light is so much greater than the darkness. There is more light than there is darkness. I remember that we are children of light and that we have pledged our children to the light at baptism.
Earth is but dust and heaven is Light; I have pledged you to heaven.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The symbol given to John the Evangelist is an eagle. Tradition holds that this was chosen because the eagle can look straight into the sun as it flies. The symbol then encourages an unflinching gaze to eternity as Christians travel toward God and the light that comes from him. As we’ve journeyed with John through Epiphany I’m struck with the manifestation of Christ’s identity through this gospel. If we want to know where to look to find the light John shows us who Jesus says he is. He truly shows us the light and invites us to put aside the darkness and fly unfalteringly toward Jesus.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world, Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ —John 8:12
Epiphany has come to a close, but our family’s reading of John will linger into Lent. We missed some nights and still have a sizable chunk of the gospel to read, but as one of the boys said, “It’s okay, we’ll like reading John in Lent, too.” And we will enjoy reading through the passion narrative as we enter into Lent. It feels fitting to read this particular part of the story as we prepare our hearts for Easter, but it also feels fitting as the darkness will still be lingering in our part of the world and we still want to follow the Light of Life away from darkness and toward the Kingdom of God.
In my heart I hear Kathleen Tomerson words of my favorite Epiphany hymn and am so grateful for our journey with John toward the light of the world.
I want to walk as a child of the light
I want to follow Jesus
God sent the stars to give light to the world
The star of my life is Jesus.