The effect of the life of Yahshua, the Son of God, when He was on the earth was that of a lighthouse, bringing clarity and illumination in the midst of a dark and confused generation. He taught about the Kingdom of God and what it meant to do His will. The light that was in Him drew others to abandon everything and follow Him. These became disciples, those who were with Him all the time, who learned from Him, and He taught them to follow the light He had given them to navigate by.
By obeying His words and by teaching others to do likewise, they would guide their "ship" to its prophetic destination. They would have His Spirit, and together they would be the exact representation of Him. Thus, you could say it was as if He had never left, since you could go to His people, His Body, and see the light of the world.
This is what you see in the beginning of the Book of Acts -- that even after the Messiah had gone the light of His people continued to shine through the darkness of the perverse society they had been saved from. The newly formed church flourished in the hands of these disciples. The light of hope they offered was so bright and vibrant, and had such a profound effect, that in its early years they were described as "the people who turned the world upside down."1
Still, somewhere in the midst of this hopeful beginning hung the disconcerting words of the Savior in John 9:4. What did He mean when He said, "Night is coming when no man can work?" What night? When would it come? It would surely come, since He only spoke the words of His Father, and every word of God proves true.
Whether His words came to the minds of those first disciples as the first signs of darkness began to appear in the church is unclear. Like hidden reefs in the dark sea, sin, strife, and division were lurking beneath the surface for any who failed to hold fast to their faith.
In their concern, the apostles wrote letters to the churches, encouraging them to continue on in their simple devotion to Messiah. These letters were a light, guiding their way through the darkness. Perhaps the Apostle Paul recalled Yahshua's words in John 9:4 as he wrote such warnings as 2 Corinthians 11:2-4 or Ephesians 6:24:
For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (1 Corinthians 11:2-4)
Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. (Ephesians 6:24)
Still, the darkness continued to descend upon the church as they drifted away from their first love, as recorded in Revelation 2:4. Their outspokenness in the assembly faded,2 and the Nicolaitans3 came in -- men like Diotrophes4 who silenced and put out of the church any who dared to speak up about what they saw. Still, the few overcomers5 continued to warn and encourage the churches. Eventually, these died or were also put out of the church. The "Lighthouse Keeper" shut off the lamps,6 seeing as the "ship" was paying no heed anyway, and the night took over.
Like the blind leading the blind, the Nicolaitans took command as the church lumbered on through the blackness of night. Its sails were filled with the hot air of the newly-formed clergy's long-winded sermons. The self-confident leaders pressed on despite their lack of illumination, and made shipwreck of the church.7 Gone was the fruit of the Spirit. Gone were the love and unity that Yahshua had prayed for. Instead, all that can be found is the wreckage of that ship -- division, persecution of "heretics," and religious intolerance strewn across the shoreline of the last 1900 years.
But light is dawning once again. The Keeper of the Lighthouse has relit the lamps. A small crew has been gathered, and the ship is setting sail once again, right from where it started so long ago. It is starting from Acts 2:44, where "all who believe live together and have all things in common." Guided by the same light that shone for those first believers, we have hope to reach our prophetic destination.
We were all once lost in the darkness, but we saw the marvelous light of 1 Peter 2:9 and we found the way out. If you want a way out of the darkness, you too can come and be a part of the life that turned the world upside down. The ship is sailing once again, and you can get on board!