Message: Part 4: Out of Death
Scripture Text: John 1:4-9
1. This is the four weeks of Advent and we’re looking each week at a passage from the Gospels focusing on darkness
a. Last week we introduced the idea that Christmastime is a season of lights, but Advent is just as much about darkness as light.
i. Only in acknowledging the darkness within and without can we truly see God’s Light of the World when it comes.
b. We started out with Darkness which is simply the absence of light; then travelled to the Shadows, which is keeping secrets and deliberate hiding from the light. Last week, we went to a deep darkness of fear, which paralyzes faith and trust in God.
c. Today, the fourth week, we dare to go to the very deepest darkness: death.
2. For millennia, in all major cultures and religious faiths of the world, death has been associated with darkness.
a. Those who die depart to an underworld, and the deepest layers are reserved for those who made the biggest mess of living above ground, in the light of day.
i. For the Chinese it is the
subterranean maze and multiple levels of Diyu ruled by the Emporer of the Dead Yin Changsheng.
ii. For the Egyptians: Duat ruled by Osiris. The Greeks: the deep darkness of Tartarus ruled by Hades and Persephone. The Nordic tribes: Niflhel or “Dark Hall”. For Judaism – Sheol or ‘place of shadows’; for Islam – Jahannam has 7 layers, each deeper and more hellish; for Hindu belief – a long dark tunnel to travel through to get to Yama, who will judge your Kharma and what level of life you will be reborn into.
iii. When the soul enters death – a good life ascends from darkness to light and the bad life stays in the darkness.
b. The Old and New Testaments speak of light as a symbol of life and darkness as the chief experience of death.
i. The very first chapter of Genesis, the creation account, speaks of Darkness existing before both light and life; and its not a coincidence that God creates both of them at the
ii. Verses about darkness of death: Psalm 107:10 and Matthew 4:16.
iii. Verses about light and life: Psalm 27:1,
c. Light bringing life out of the darkness
of death is a major theme of John’s gospel.
i. Read John 1:4-5.
ii. The message about Jesus was that God’s light had come to a world overcome by darkness and death, shining forth truth and offering both abundant life on this side of death and eternal life in God’s unceasing light the other
side of death.
iii. On this side of death, Darkness still exists to give appreciation for the light and awaken a desire to escape the darkness and seek salvation in the light.
1. But because of Jesus, darkness is powerless to overcome the light.
iv. Simply put, if you are walking through life with Jesus, you always have light. You always have life.
3. Interestingly enough, the connection between life and light is being confirmed by the most recent scientific discoveries involving quantum physics.
a. At the most fundamental and smallest level of life – the subatomic level – quantum theory posits that there’s nothing physical – nothing you can be pick up with your fingers and look at. There’s only energy behaving as waves of light.
b. The Bible and Quantum Physics agree, in a way.
i. You at your most essential You-ness is Light. Light is intrinsic to your creation down to the subatomic level in your cells.
c. Darkness is You ceasing to exist as You, so Death is the deepest and most unrecoverable darkness.
d. No wonder it is defeating death that is Jesus’ greatest achievement and most
4. It begs the question of whether you are trying to illuminate your life by any other light, and whether those lights you use are effective at truly warding off the Darkness.
5. And, for those of you who call yourselves Christians, this also begs the question of whether you, having received the Light, walk now in life or continue to dwell in death.
a. And, whether you are sharing the light with the world or allowing yourself to block it out in some way.
b. In 2001 a Dutch research study
focused on people who had had a NDE (Near Death Experience) often associated with “seeing a light” before being resuscitated.
i. Deeply religious people (mostly female by the way) were more likely to experience an NDE than those who were “afraid of dying.”
ii. And when re-interviewed later, those people who had a NDE were more emotionally vulnerable and compassionate toward others.
c. If you think about it, to be a Christian is to have a Near Death Experience: Die to the sin; Die to the selfish; Die to the self; and die to Death itself so that you might live in Christ and for others.
i. So, Christians, when you die every
day…do you see the Light?