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John 11:5-10

Walking In The Light


John 11:5-10 MKJV   And Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  (6) Therefore, when He had heard that he was sick, then indeed He remained two days in the place where He was.  (7) Then after that He said to the disciples, Let us go into Judea again.  (8) The disciples said to Him, Rabbi, the Jews lately have sought to stone You, and do You go there again?  (9) Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble because he sees the light of the world.  (10) But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles because there is no light in him.


Verse 5 tells us that “Jesus loved Martha”, this is the only woman anywhere in the gospels, that it is said that Jesus “loved” – certainly not Mary Magdalene as the DaVinci Code and other wild accounts have it. And Jesus loved her as part of a family unit of Mary, Martha and Jesus.


Jesus also had the habit of driving Martha wild with exasperation. Firstly, He lets Mary sit at His feet while Martha slaves in the kitchen; secondly, He seems to dawdle in His response when Lazarus is dead. It seems that Lazarus was dead when the messengers first arrived. We find that when Jesus gets there that Lazarus had been dead “four days”. These four days is accounted for thus - one day while the messengers went to Jesus, two days while Jesus delayed, one more day as He walked back to Bethany. Thus Lazarus probably died shortly after the messengers left. Jesus delayed because He knew that Lazarus was already dead (John 11:14).


Jesus was not being cruel, but neither would He be compelled. Jesus is not a “first-responder”, pulled here and there by emergencies. Jesus only did things “in God’s time”. And sometimes that frustrated those He loved. This has great and obvious application to prayer. We cannot compel God to answer our prayers according to our timetable and our wishes. God answers them on His terms, and in His time and for His glory.


When Jesus does respond the disciples don’t like it. It seems to be a suicide mission: “Then after that He said to the disciples, Let us go into Judea again.  (8) The disciples said to Him, Rabbi, the Jews lately have sought to stone You, and do You go there again?”  and evokes Thomas’ confused but loyal response “John 11:16 MKJV  Then Thomas (he being called Twin) said to his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”


In response to this terrible fear of certain death Jesus starts talking about “walking in the light”. The disconnection seems vast until we understand Jewish and Roman astrological times and the concept of auspicious times. Each of the twelve hours of the day was ruled by one the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and the days of the week were ruled by various planets and Gods – Sunday was the day of the Sun, Monday the day of the Moon, Tuesday was ruled by Mars, Saturday by Saturn etc. Much effort was put into calculating whether journeys would be auspicious or inauspicious according to the “stars”. The whole project planning of the Roman Empire, from peasants in the field planting crops, to emperors in state making war, was literally held in iron bondage to horoscopes. The disciples were saying “this journey does not auger well… it is not the right time”. 


Jesus disabuses them of this and makes a case that He is vastly more powerful than the ancient world of omens and prognostications. References to this continue with Thomas’ name being “The Twin” a reference both to a constellation (which we call Gemini) and to the obvious falseness of astrology as twins such as Jacob and Esau can have very different destinies despite being born at the same time, in the same location, and from the same parents. Augustine makes much of twins in his refutation of astrology.


Jesus reply is “walking in the light = perfect safety” no horoscopes needed. On the other hand - being dark within (possibly because of astrology) = stumbling always, despite any horoscope that is cast!


So Jesus puzzling answer is therefore saying: “There are no auspicious times or inauspicious times if you have the light of God and walk according to His will. The whole twelve hours are illuminated by Me as the light of the world. What really matters is for you have light in your soul. If you don’t have light in your soul, you will stumble, no matter how auspicious the timings of the planets and stars. I am the light of the world, not those tin gods and goddesses! If you walk with Me, in the day, you will not stumble into misfortune because God Almighty will protect you.  If you are in My will, no time is evil or inauspicious, however if you are in the darkness, all times are evil”.


This may seem obscure to may of you but to a world increasingly soaked in astrology, witchcraft, the New Age and indigenous tribal religions and shamanism it is a reality. It has even reached the White House - when Nancy Reagan employed a astrologer so that President Reagan would travel only at “auspicious times”.


Any time that Jesus tells you to do something is the right time - even if humanly speaking it looks like the wrong time. Many of my major blessings have come when I have had the faith and courage to do God’s will, in God’s timing, despite circumstances.


Jesus moves into Bethany and towards the Cross, in part because of His love of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. He was about to do the miracle that would crystallize the opposition to Him to the point of fierce and lethal hatred. Jesus and His disciples could have stayed there beyond the Jordan, where many came to believe, and perhaps lived there in peace for years, and founded a community much like Qumran. But in Bethany, in Judea, in the territory of the Jews who hated Him, lay a great opportunity for the glory of God and a great demonstration of His power and of the resurrection.

Blessings in Jesus,

John Edmiston