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John 11:9-10

John 11:9-10
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John 11:9-10, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If someone should walk in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But, if someone should walk in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

If Jesus goes to help Lazarus, he will put himself in harm’s way…he will go right back into the “lion’s den” of those who seek to kill him. Because of this, his disciples tell him not to go…and the above verses are Jesus’ response. I believe that the day/night imagery we see here has some connection to 1 John’s light / darkness imagery—which refer to love / hatred (self-preservation) respectively. We see this most clearly in 1 John 2:10-11,

“The one loving his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him; but the one hating his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness and does not know where he is going, because the darkness blinds his eyes.”

The language is not the same (day/night vs. light/darkness, and different words for “stumbling”), however the construction and overarching concepts are parallel. It may well be, then, that Jesus’ response to His disciples’ self-preserving advice might be re-stated in this way: If we are walking in the light of love, we cannot stumble—even if that means we are stoned to death for it; conversely, if we walk in the darkness of self-preservation (hatred of brother), then we cannot but stumble since we are walking in the absence of (indeed, in opposition to) the light of this world which is the identity of the One True God, who is Love.

The point He is making is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to “stumble” when you are walking in accordance with the Light of the World (which, for Jesus, is His perfect and revelatory obedience of love to the will of the Father, and for us is our Spirit-enabled abiding in and conformity to Christ, who is Himself the Light of the World), while you cannot but stumble when walking in the night of neighbor-hating self-preservation.

When we are thinking how to preserve ourselves and our situation, when we are thinking how to get and keep for ourselves, how to insulate and upgrade ourselves, we are walking in the night / darkness a.k.a., setting our minds on the things of man (Matthew 16:22). While living in this way, we CANNOT BUT stumble since we are in opposition to the heart of reality….even if it seems to yield success in this world.

Conversely, when we are thinking how to give ourselves, how to spend ourselves for others, how to pour out our resources to build up another—all to the end that the other might come to know and enjoy God in Christ—when we think and act in this way we are walking in the day / light, which is to say, walking in conformity to Jesus Christ and the God-revealing obedience of love that defines His life. While living in this way it is IMPOSSIBLE to stumble since we are in harmony with the heart of reality….even if (as is very likely) it gets us crucified in this world.