By Robert Halsey Pine
“Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.’” (John 12:27-36a NRSV).
When we hear Jesus say, “The light is with you for a little longer,” we think that He means that He is soon to be crucified and die on the cross. We think that this is why He has a sense of urgency in His words to the Greeks and others at the festival. So when we read His words today, we think that His sense of urgency is not for us but only for those to whom He spoke while He was living as one of them.
Even though Christ continues to be a light in the world because of His death on the cross and His going up to be with His Father, we should still have a sense of urgency about walking in the light so that the darkness will not overtake us. How does this sense of urgency have meaning in our lives today? We have no guarantee of how long our natural lives will last. We might be killed tomorrow or die of a terminal illness this year. In that sense we might only be able to walk in His light for a little longer in this life.
St. Paul said, “We are afflicted in every way…but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:1-12 NRSV). The sense of urgency then is the combining of our own death with the death of Jesus. Now we can hear His words about darkness and light knowing that our death may be upon us like it was for Jesus.
Paul told us that he always carried in his body the death of Jesus. In doing this he was walking in the light and making Jesus visible to all through himself. Jesus has told us that if we walk in the darkness, we will not know where we are going. We must take on the death of Jesus within us and treat our own death as if it is imminent. Remember Jesus’ words, “While you have light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.