Today I’m delighted to publish a guest post by Jacob Wright, an online friend and theological discussion partner who is passionate about finding the God revealed in Jesus. You can find some biographical information at the bottom of the post.
If what you’re about to read makes you stop and think, please share your thoughts in the comments!
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
When physical light is present, what was previously hidden in the darkness is now exposed and seen for what it is. But what is this divine light that judges? It is not literal, physical light, although literal, physical light serves as a metaphor for this metaphysical reality of God-light. The God-light is God’s very nature of love. Go back to the gospel of John: to whom is it referring when it speaks of the Light that has come into the world? It is referring to Jesus. Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature of love, the God-light who exposes the hidden motives of our hearts. But how does Jesus expose them? By His incarnate living-out of the nature of God in peace, mercy, humility, and finally non-violent, co-suffering, self-giving love. The cross is the radiant light of God’s nature that judges the world. But the paradox is that it judges the world by not judging the world, by revealing perfect, self-giving love.
God does not judge the world by our normal understanding of judgment; not by lifting the hand and pointing the accusative finger, but rather by opening up the hand to be pierced. The judgment of God is not a direct action of God, but simply a by-product of Him revealing His nature. The judgment of God is light. This light simply shines, and all is exposed. This light is perfect love, peace, humility, mercy; and in the radiance of this light, our selfishness, violence, pride and condemnation are exposed for what they are. The cross is the radiant light of divine self-giving love that judges the selfishness of the world by revealing its antithesis. God radiates His co-suffering, self-giving, enemy-forgiving love, and all the selfish intents of the heart are exposed. Some run from this light; others welcome it, so that they may live in its truth.
God need not judge, but simply shine his light, and all intents of the heart are exposed, whether good or evil.
God need not condemn, but simply love, and in that light, evil stands self-condemned.
God need not destroy, but simply allow people to reap the consequences of their own self-destruction.
God need not actively judge, condemn, or destroy.
“Then I saw a little lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne… The little lamb had seven horns and seven eyes…” (Revelation 5:6)
The actual Greek word that is used here for “lamb” is arnion which means a very young, innocent, little lamb. The seven horns and seven eyes are a symbol of the perfect omnipotence (horns represent power) and perfect omniscience (eyes represent knowledge) of God. This passage is radically re-envisioning the power and wisdom of God through the cross, and showing them to be found in a little, slain lamb. As it turns out, the throne of God before which all are judged is occupied by a little, slain lamb. God does not judge the world, but lays His down His life for the world, and by this the world is judged by Him.
“The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son.”
(Jesus, in John 5:22)
“I judge no one.”
(Jesus, in John 8:15)
“’Now is the judgment of this world; now the prince of this world will be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth [on the cross], will draw all people to myself.’ This He spoke concerning what death He should die.”
The cross is not just some awkward little link in the chain of God’s otherwise Caesaresque, muscle-flexing way of working His will in history. Well, yes, God was crucified but next He is coming back as the violent, conquering real Messiah who will show His power and judge the world. No, that is still human wisdom and power, which is foolishness and weakness to God, whereas the cross is “the wisdom and power of God”, which is “foolishness and weakness to men” (1 Corinthians 1:23-25).
God defined His unchanging nature once and for all in the cross, which was Jesus putting into practice His teachings. The cross is how God flexes His muscles, the cross is the power of God, the cross is how God conquers evil, the cross is how God judges the world. Jesus redefined everything in the cross, and the Father vindicated it through resurrection. This is God and this is how God wins. This is how the universe is made right. The second coming, the apocalypse, the eschaton, the judgment of the world, and the ultimate conquering of evil is merely the cross becoming universally realized. The divine light of love shining into all things, into all hearts, into all of history.
The cross judges the world simply by shining the divine light of self-giving love and exposing the selfish thoughts and intents of the heart. The cross is the divine light of love under which the prince of this world now stands exposed as a fraud and is therefore self-condemned and cast down. The cross is the divine light of love that triumphs over evil by making reconciliation and shalom in all things (Colossians 1:20). The cross brings the world to justice through mercy.
[ Image: Lawrence OP ]
Jacob Wright is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. As a writer, he is currently finishing a theological/philosophical book called “The God Reality”. As a singer-songwriter, he is lead vocalist for rock band of brothers “The Wright Brothers”. He is also a worship leader. You can find both of his musical projects here: The Wright Brothers: https://facebook.com/thewrightbrothersmusic, and Jacob Wright: https://facebook.com/jacobwrightmusic