“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:4-5
I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed this week. I have so much to do. I’m working on my life coaching business. I have a class. There are women I want to spend time with. There are Bible studies I’m leading, or a part of. And this is all on top of my usual chores and responsibilities.
Jesus had much to do as well. John 9 is the continuation of what must have been a long day for Jesus. In John 8, he arrived early at the temple courts, and was sitting down teaching people, when the scribes and Pharisees brought him a woman caught in adultery. So he dealt with that. Then he had a very long discourse with the Pharisees, as well as the Jews who believed him. At the end of the discussion, they tried to stone him, but he was able to slip out of the temple.
In John 9, on what seems to be the same day, Jesus came across a man who was born blind, and his disciples asked him whose sin caused the man to be born blind. Instead of answering that question, Jesus saw that God had work for him to do in the life of the blind man.
Now at this point, if I were Jesus, I might have felt like, “Okay, I just did a lot of good work, fought for the integrity of God, and stood up for the truth. I faced the haters. I expended a lot of energy. I’m done for today. I’ll do more tomorrow.”
But Jesus was ready to do more of the work of God. He said, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me.”
And what motivated Jesus was that he knew his time was limited. “Night is coming.” There weren’t too many days left until his death. One commentary said the crucifixion was 6 months away, but it could have been longer. The thing was, Jesus considered it of prime importance to use whatever hours he had left to do God’s work in the world.
This concept of limited time was so central to Jesus’s thinking, that he said it more than once. In John 11, when he told his disciples of his plans to return to Jerusalem, his reasoning was, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight?” (John 11:9) In John 12, he told the crowd, “Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. . . Believe in the light while you have the light.”
Later, Paul had this same heart, and encouraged the disciples to, “make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil,” (Eph 5:16) and reminded them that they were, “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10)
We need to learn to have this mindset. We only have a limited amount of days on this earth, and each day, God has work that he needs for us to do. We need to see with Jesus’s eyes of faith, and know that God prepares people for us to meet, and interactions for us to conduct. (Acts 17:26-27)
But now I’m back at the place I started. This feels overwhelming!!!
And that’s why it’s so encouraging that Jesus concluded this statement with “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Because, although Jesus did physically leave the world, he also promised that he would be with us always (Matt 28:30), and we would have the indwelling of the Spirit. (John 14:17-18) We are continually, as it says in I John, walking in the light!
I am never alone in carrying out the mission! I have a guide, a helper, a source of wisdom and power.
Plus, as I do God’s work, I myself am a light, just as Jesus was.
- “The Lord gave us the following order: ‘I have made you a light for the nations so that you would save people all over the world.'” (Acts 13:47 GWT)
- “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:16)
So how can all of this help us when we feel overwhelmed?
- We can see situations we face as God given opportunities for us to work with him.
- We can remember that our time on earth is limited, and the number of opportunities we receive is finite.
- We can know that Jesus will be with us to help us carry out God’s work.
- We can see our identity as a light for the world today.
It’s ironic. I’m writing about this, and at the same time, I’m a part of a group of women who are working on having better boundaries in their lives. We’re trying to say “no” more, and now I’m trying to say “yes” more.
It calls for a lot of wisdom, prayer, and getting advice. But I believe that Jesus is the good shepherd. (John 10) Just like the shepherd in Psalms 23, he’s going to lead us where we need to go — to opportunities at the right time, and to quiet waters at the right time. We just need to pray for, and stay open to, his leading.
Since I started writing this blog, even more “opportunities” have come up for me. I talked with a woman at my exercise class who wants to join an in person Bible study group. I studied the Bible with a college student who wants to be baptized this weekend. All of this will require more time on my part.
Am I going to be even more overwhelmed? No, I’m going to walk with the Light.
“As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me.“
May we all stay open to seeing and doing this work, and be encouraged that he is with us as we do so.