Reading: John 8; Deut. 16:9-11; Eph. 1:17-18.
In John 8 there is a section which is bracketed at the commencement. It is really verse 53 of chapter 7 which goes on to verse 11 of chapter 8. There is a question in the margin as to whether this section was in the original text, but we need not worry ourselves about that. For the moment we are not going to be occupied with that section. It certainly does seem that with verse 12 there is the proper sequence connected with verse 52 of the chapter before. However, for our present purpose from verse 12 of chapter 8 we shall have all that we want.
Now I want to remind you of the ground upon which we find ourselves in chapter 7. We are led in our understanding of the things that the Lord is doing and saying by means of the feast of tabernacles, and we observe that the feast of tabernacles sets forth the true and the essentially heavenly nature and life of the Lord's people, inasmuch as for seven days they were commanded to leave their houses and dwell in booths. This became the feast of tabernacles, or of tents, and spoke of their being outside of this world (and everything that is established in relation to this world) in a free and heavenly place with the Lord. That fact has got to be regarded as established as we proceed with this gospel, and we may say here and now, as we go forward, that we regard ourselves as occupying heavenly ground, and it is necessary to recognise that, in order to get the value from what the Lord will yet say in this chapter 8, and do in chapter 9.
Just by way of introducing the Divine and spiritual sequence, let us see that the feast of tabernacles was the issue of the feast of weeks, or the feast of Pentecost as it is otherwise called. The feast of tabernacles, as we have said, sets forth or represents a heavenly people living in the life of the Spirit. It was the feast of tabernacles in John 7 which led the Lord Jesus, in transferring everything to Himself, to conclude the whole thing on the last great day of the feast with those words regarding the Holy Spirit: "He that believeth on Me, as the scripture saith, out of his inner man shall flow rivers of living water; this spake He of the Spirit". So the feast of tabernacles is the issue of the Feast of Pentecost, which means spiritually that because of Pentecost, or the advent of the Holy Spirit, the Lord's people are regarded as being a heavenly people. That is, Pentecost, or the feast of weeks, means from the Lord's standpoint that His people are a heavenly people. The Holy Spirit came to make the church a heavenly people. He is called "the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven"; but in exactly the same way as the Lord Jesus came from heaven He remained heavenly and made everything which came into relationship with Him also heavenly. So, then, that is the meaning of the feast of tabernacles.
Now you notice the order of things. The first is the Passover, and the Passover speaks of the death of Christ in relation to the old creation, the putting aside of that old creation in its entirety. Then, following the Passover, is the feast of weeks (or Pentecost). Then, following Pentecost, is the feast of tabernacles. The Passover is death, the feast of weeks is resurrection, the feast of tabernacles is heavenliness of life on the ground of death and resurrection, coming out therefrom.
The Passover, we are told in Deuteronomy 16, was to be observed at the going down of the sun. That means the end of a day. One day is closed in the death of the Lord Jesus. The feast of weeks, being resurrection, because at the beginning of the feast of weeks the wave sheaf was presented to the Lord and the first fruits of the harvest (Christ the Firstfruits in type) means a new day. A new day has been brought in in resurrection.
That is the key to chapter 8 and chapter 9 of the gospel by John. We have come through the feast of tabernacles onto the ground of a heavenly life, and what that means, carrying over all the values of the feast of weeks in the Holy Spirit for all the future life of the Lord's people; that is resurrection.
This means that everything is now transferred to the Kingdom of the Spirit. That is the meaning of resurrection and heavenly life. It is what we may call the altogether utterness of everything. I take it that that was what the Lord Jesus was seeking to establish in the consciousness and recognition of His disciples, the fact that things are now altogether other than they were. There is that about them which is the same; that is, He is the same, and yet there is an utterness about Him and about everything that makes for the difference of two worlds. One day had closed in His death. The Passover had seen one day closed, and that was the day of all that was merely of this earth, even in relation to Himself. They wanted to cling to Him, they wanted to go on on the old ground, but He was altogether putting them off and saying, "No, it is different now; the same, yet tremendously different. Everything now is of a heavenly and a spiritual order, not an earthly and temporal order. It is not now the old flesh and blood association. Now it is association in spirit. It is not now the old earthly association, it is now a heavenly relationship". There is a big difference made by the death and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and in the coming of the Holy Spirit everything is carried over to or transferred to the Kingdom of the Spirit, and Christ is now to be known, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, and everything to do with Him has to be of a spiritual and heavenly nature.
I take that to be the meaning of the counting of seven weeks. It is a strange form of words into which the commandment is given. "Thou shalt count unto thee seven weeks, from the putting in of the sickle". It is as though the Lord was saying, "You shall mark seven weeks, you shall take definite account of a period. It shall come under your very clear and specified observation. It is not casual, that there shall seven weeks elapse, but you shall count unto you seven weeks. It is something about which you have got to be exercised, and concerned. It is not that I appoint seven weeks, but you must count seven weeks". Seven, as we know, is the number of spiritual perfection, and when it comes in relation to a period of time, it means a dispensation, a period which is of a spiritual character, and that means that it is a period marked by that which is wholly spiritual. Now you have got to mark a time which the Lord has introduced, which is characterised by what is spiritual, and wholly spiritual. That is the feast of weeks, and if this is, as we have said, the feast of resurrection, or represents resurrection, the beginning of which is Christ, the wave sheaf, the firstfruits, then we understand that God has called us to take account of the fact that now history begins with resurrection, and everything has to be governed by resurrection for the future. Resurrection becomes the governing reality in the life of God's people, and it lays down this law, that the Lord's people have got to date everything from resurrection. Christendom, of course, has dated from the birth of Christ, but the church dates follow the resurrection of Christ. The sabbath is to be put aside for the first day of the week, which is resurrection. In the Acts of the apostles we read that they gathered together on the first day of the week. So that the church's history in the New Testament begins with the resurrection, and the Lord's people have to count everything from resurrection, and resurrection has got to govern their life and history in every respect.
Let us remember that: all things to be reckoned from and governed by resurrection. We put it in the general form, the embracing form. It is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, but it is resurrection as a great spiritual reality. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus may be regarded, after all, as but a historic thing, but here the Lord is laying down this rule, that it is a spiritual period. It is not just a historic fact in the creed, that He rose from the dead, but a spiritual state of resurrection into which the Lord's people have to come, and that has to be the governing thing of their entire life.
Seeing that as the foundation, we are able to enter into these two chapters of John's gospel, chapters 8 and 9, and see what the particular value of resurrection is that is presented here, and as far as I can see, in the teaching of the New Testament this is the first value of resurrection, or of resurrection Life in Christ. If you like to put it another way, and say the first value of the Holy Spirit's advent and regime, it is the same thing in other language. Resurrection, resurrection Life, the government of the Holy Spirit; they are the same thing, and you can use which language you like. We are seeking to get at the spiritual reality.
If you look, then, at chapter 8, beginning from verse 12, you notice that you do not travel far before you come on these words: "I am the light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life". Then from that point onwards you get this terrible night of darkness into which the Jews, and especially their rulers and leaders and representatives (the Pharisees) have come, and you find them simply gripped and mastered by that darkness and blindness, unable to see anything, unable to grasp anything, and the Lord Jesus seeking to bring it home to them all the time and their utter inability to grasp the true nature of His person. "I am from above", He says, and then they say, "Who art Thou?", "Even that which I have also spoken unto you from the beginning". Then you get such words as these, which are all so significant: "When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know..." indicating how dense and blind they were at that time that they did not know Who He was, they could not see. In verse 31 the Lord says to those Jews which had believed Him: "If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free". Then verse 43: "Why do ye not understand My speech? Even because ye cannot hear My word." You can go right through chapter 8, and find that on every side it was a matter of darkness and blindness. There was on His side the declaration that He was the light, and then: "He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." That is the word that is the key to everything, the Light of Life.
The first fruit in the believer of the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus indwelling by the Holy Spirit is revelation. The blindness is past, the darkness is gone, the eyes are opened, and in the first place He is seen, and then He goes on to be ever increasingly revealed as we walk in the Light. It sounds a simple thing, but it is not quite so simple as that.
What we mean is that so many of the Lord's people have not recognised all that this means, the great, the wonderful fact that in union with Christ in His risen life the believer has now eyes to see for himself or herself. In an altogether new way a new world is represented by Christ, and in an ever-growing way those eyes may feast upon Him. It is that resurrection knowledge of Christ which is basic to all spiritual growth and all spiritual usefulness and ministry. Our perfecting is a perfecting in the knowledge of God; all our development, right to the very consummation of the Divine purpose in us, is along the line of knowledge. It is from the beginning Life eternal to know the only true God and Jesus Christ, and Paul will tell us that the very goal and prize is reached by way of that knowledge being made perfect, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord... That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection." That is the cry, the prayer of Paul the aged, at the end of his long life, recognising that his perfecting (because he also says, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended") is a matter of a knowledge of the Lord Jesus, which even at that date he did not possess.
This knowledge is resurrection knowledge, or, in the words of this chapter, it is the Light of Life. It is not mental knowledge, intellectual knowledge, academic knowledge. It is the Light of Life. It is living knowledge, coming from a living union with a living Lord, and that is ever-growing, constituting the believer a spiritual, intelligent one in an ever-growing way. Oh, that the Lord's people were more alive to this great reality, that it is given to them to have the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of wisdom and revelation dwelling within them, to teach them all things. The measure of the knowledge of so many is that which they have received second-hand, that which has come to them from other directions than directly from the Lord Himself and their walk with Him.
You see how the spiritual sequence is marked in these chapters. The blindness, the inability of the Jews to see and know and understand the Lord was due to prejudice. Now the Lord says, in effect, "That is a bit of the old creation, and it belongs to the day that is closed with the evening of the Passover. Death to all that sort of thing must take place, and there must be resurrection to a new realm of the Spirit; not to the flesh any longer, but to the Spirit", and in this new resurrection realm of the Spirit the eyes which were closed by prejudice are now opened and full of Light.
So then, the point for emphasis and underlining is this, that there is a resurrection eye, a resurrection seeing faculty. It does not belong to the old creation, it belongs to the new. It is the eye of the Spirit. It is that to which Paul refers in Ephesians 1:17,18: "That He would grant unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; the eyes of your heart being enlightened, that ye may know...".
What we want to recognise in that particular connection is this, that that is not the eye-opening of new birth. In his letter to the Ephesians he is a long way past new birth. He is moving on into the highest and fullest things of the life of the church, the Body of Christ. He is now up in the heavenlies, and viewing all ages, eternity past and future, and the counsels of God, and he uses a word here which is indicative of what he means: "That He would grant unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him". That is the word he uses. It is not the initial knowledge, not the knowledge of a newborn child, but the full knowledge of Him, and the resurrection eye is needed for that - the resurrection faculty, for that - the eyes of the heart need to be not only opened but enlightened to the full purposes of God. That is the way of growth, of increase - the full knowledge of Him. What he means, in a word, is this: that the faculty which is given to us by the Holy Spirit in resurrection union with the Lord Jesus may be in full function; you see the things which He would have them know: what is the hope of His calling, what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, what the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe. These are not elementary things, but they are all reached by the same way: the resurrection eye.
Now you notice that the truth is laid down in words in chapter 8 of John's gospel, and then it is exemplified in action in chapter 9. It is no mere hap, no mere coincidence, no mere chance, but all under the Divine sovereignty - everything falls into line with the purpose and the truth. The Lord Jesus should have been struggling, so to speak, with this blindness and this darkness; you can almost hear Him groan at times in chapter 8, "Why do ye not understand My speech?" He is a Man grappling with an impossible situation. After all, what is the use of trying to show things to a blind man? That is what it seems to be like in chapter 8 - trying to describe to a blind man things of which he has no notion whatever, and things for which he has no faculty of apprehension. Then in chapter 9 as He goes forth He meets a man blind from his birth, and this man becomes the symbol of those Jews to whom the Lord had been speaking; blind, with no faculty of spiritual sight. But the Lord heals the blind man, gives him sight, and thereby says to all around, "What you need is Myself, My touch, a living touch with Me, a living union with Me. I am the Light... he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of Life".
All that is quite well known to us, but there is a special emphasis which the Lord would make, and that is upon the great need, and the blessed possibility for the Lord's people to have this that the apostle prays for: "a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him". That is a resurrection enlightenment by the Holy Spirit. Their knowledge of the Lord shall be firsthand knowledge, and ever-growing knowledge by revelation of the Holy Spirit, and it shall be living knowledge. Only so will they be able to go through triumphantly.
It is essential, in order that we shall go through to the end, that our knowledge of the Lord is a living, spiritual knowledge. It is essential, if we are to be of the greatest help to others, that we have that kind of knowledge of the Lord. That is, in other words, the measure of our own personal testimony in its effectiveness, and the measure in which others come into the fulness of Christ is the measure of our own living, resurrection knowledge of the Lord.
We shall be limited in ourselves, and we shall be limited in our value to others if our knowledge of the Lord after this living kind is limited. Growth in ourselves, and growth in our value to others, the increase of the Lord in others, depends entirely upon our growth in spiritual knowledge of the Lord. We are not working by a standardized truth or doctrine. Ours is not just a completeness of doctrine, crystallized and in the form of a worker's manual, to be produced second-hand as from a book. Ours is to be in every fragment of it living, and living more and more with the increase of Christ; to that, coming to the Lord's Word the thousandth time or reading any given part, means new Life and new Light to us.
The Word of God has not become a book that we know. I am sorry for the person who has got to the place where they think they know the Bible. I am perfectly certain that one mark of a true spiritual life will ever be, however much you know, you are conscious that you know nothing in comparison with what you recognise there is to be known; that you are still only on the fringe of things, and there lies to your consciousness - not to your apprehension yet - a whole universe in relation to the Lord Jesus, and that universe is open to you, yet for you to explore. And as you go on your only feeling is that you are sorry, from this standpoint, that you are getting old, that there will not be time enough here on earth to explore that world which has come to your consciousness.
That is how it should be, and that is how it is with those who know resurrection illumination. There is a world there that we must long to get into, we are conscious of it, we are, as it were, on Pisgah's height viewing it and longing to get into it. Blessed be God, we may yet be led into more.
A life like this is for the believer now. Get inside of that phrase, "Light and Life"; the Light which comes out of Life, the Light which is produced by Life, which is living Light. That is for us. How foolish we were years ago when we thought that we knew the Bible. We had studied it, and analysed all the books, and put them all out into diagrams, and thought we knew all that the Bible contained; and we have lived to discover that we knew nothing about it at all. It all lies there before us, but we have got the key, we have got the secret, and that is risen, living union with Christ, Who is the sum and substance of all the Word of God.
Now, this poor man who was born blind eventually came to the place where the Lord Jesus said to him: "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" "Who is he, Lord", said the man, "that I may believe." "I that speak unto thee am He". That is where the Jews were, all in the dark as to the Son of God. The Lord Jesus, by His act, His miracle in the case of this man born blind, said so clearly, so eloquently, so forcefully, 'You will never know the Son of God until the Son of God has opened your eyes, and that as the result of your faith.'
We have laid the finger of emphasis upon a truth, not expounding it, but emphasising it, a great and glorious truth, that there is for us, for all the Lord's people, what we have called a resurrection faculty of sight, which means a capacity for a new universe. That universe is Christ, never exhausted in His fulness, and resurrection life is the key to that universe. He is the Risen Lord. To know Him we must have His risen life. He is that now, and all that has to do with Him spiritually, heavenly; we therefore must come in resurrection into the realm where the Holy Spirit governs, interprets. We must be in the possession of the Holy Spirit to know Him, but given that, oh, what a wonderful life ours may be of a growing discovery of the Lord Jesus!
Now then, "Reckon unto you seven weeks..." Take account of it, mark it out, recognise God's meaning. The Lord Jesus in the forty days after His resurrection was appearing unto them. As He did, there was one thing happening with them all the time. It was the consciousness that they were seeing, and they were able to see what was quite impossible for the ordinary man to see, that this was something that they were brought into that no one else knew anything about. It was their secret, it was a marvellous thing.
I wonder how we should feel. If we could just project our imagination enough we should understand what was happening with them. If He suddenly, in physical form, without the opening of any door, stood in the midst, we saw Him, we could feel Him, handle Him, and He was as tangible as we ourselves are; if we could hear His voice with our own ears, could handle Him with our own hands; and then, without any door opening, and any material exit being given Him, we should find Him gone; we should say, "Surely we have got a new faculty of some kind, for seeing something that is not seen in the ordinary way." Yes, they were recognising that they were in a new world of faculties, abilities, and the thing which accompanied that, as you can see quite clearly from the record, was a growing wonder. "Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord" (John 20:20). They were glad, they wondered, they prayed, they worshipped. That is resurrection revelation.
It is a wonderful thing to have resurrection eyes. It is a thing of wonder, a thing of glory, and whatever may be the suffering, whatever may be the trial, whatever we may have to go through, that thing remains to us a prize with which we would not part for anything. If the two things were put in the balances for us, and we were allowed to choose, the yielding up of our resurrection eyes - that is, the revelation that the Lord gives - and in surrendering that being given an easier path, a less suffering way, some of us know quite well which we would choose. We would not choose to have those eyes closed again at any cost, for any prize; not to lose that blessed Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the growing knowledge of Him - not yet the full knowledge, but the growing knowledge. No, not for an easier path; not for anything! When it comes to the issue, the values of risen union with the Lord Jesus are greater than all other prizes. That is the wonder of it all.
May the Lord, by the simple re-emphasizing of the fact, not by its exposition, but by the fact restated, draw our hearts out in the same prayer, "that He will grant unto us (and He will if we believe) a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him, the eyes of our heart being enlightened that we may know..." All that there is to know is a wonderful world, but it is all Christ.