To read the drama as it played out, you’d think, at first, that there are but three parties involved. There is the Teacher . . . there are the debaters . . . and there are the listeners. The Teacher is claiming to be the Light of the world . . . His opposition, shrouded in darkness, are trying to trap Him and trip Him up concerning His claims . . . and the crowd try and keep up with this ping-pong match, wondering who will win. Yeah, at first, it seems that there are just three players in this unfolding drama. But then I come to the end of the debate and there’s a hint that throughout this “forum” there has been another Person present . . . another active Agent at work . . . One who is the “Connector-of-the-Dots.”
As far as gospel presentations goes, it’s not the clearest. Though it is the stuff that systematic theology is built on, it’s not like it’s being presented precept upon precept.
“I am the Light of the World” . . . My testimony is valid because “I know where I came from and where I am going” . . . “If you knew Me you would know My Father also” . . . “I am going way, and you will seek Me, and you will die in your sin” . . . “I am from above’ . . . “I am not of this world” . . . “He who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from Him” (John 8:12-27).
Not exactly your four simple steps to salvation. In fact, John records that Jesus’ opponents “did not understand” what Jesus was getting at (8:27a). And if these learned men of the Scriptures were in the dark concerning the Light of the World . . . then how could the “common folks” in the crowd possibly track with the discussion? Well, some of them did . . . and a number of them got it . . .
So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on My own authority, but speak just as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” As He was saying these things, many believed in Him. (John 8:28-30 ESV)
Many believed. Really? After listening to what seems to have been a pretty convoluted discussion . . . after experiencing the opposition of the religious elite to the One who claimed to be the Son of Man . . . after trying to track with where He came from and where He was going and Who He was talking about . . . many believed? Yeah, really. How’s that possible? Someone else was present . . . giving enough understanding for some to respond . . . connecting the dots . . . so that many would believe.
To be sure, as I read on in John 8, some of these believers were not believers at all for they continued to debate with Jesus. But of the “many” who believed, I sense that there were more than a few who entered the kingdom of God at that point in the debate. And it wasn’t because of a well designed three-point sermon. It was because they had encountered the Son of God and had been made alive to Him by the Spirit of God, the Connector-of the-Dots.
That’s what the Holy Spirit does . . . He connects the dots. He leads people into truth . . . the truth concerning themselves, as He convicts them of sin . . . the truth concerning the Son, as He reveals Jesus as the remedy for their sin. He takes blind people, blind to the things God has prepared for those who love Him, and gives them sight, drawing them by faith to the Savior. Things that make no sense to the unregenerate man, He makes sense of to those with ears to hear . . . connecting the dots enough so that they might respond in belief.
Jesus said that the Spirit is like the wind (John 3:8) . . . invisibly blowing where it wishes . . . often unrecognized as present or at work. But then, people believe, and He is revealed . . . that active Agency which works behind the scenes . . . and in the realm of the hearts of men . . . bringing sons and daughters out of darkness and in to marvelous light.
Praise God for the Connector-of-the-Dots.