************ Sermon on John 1:5,9 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 24, 2006
"Jesus – the Light of the World"
A What is darkness. Darkness is not the presence or existence of something. Rather, darkness is the absence of something. Darkness is the absence of light. Physical darkness happens when the power goes off. Spiritual darkness happens when we are away from God and the light of His presence. In fact, darkness means opposition to God and the things of God.
When the Gospel writer John looks at the world he lives in he sees so much darkness. He sees unbelievers, men and women and children, who don't know God in Christ. They either have made a deliberate decision to do without God in their lives or they have chosen to neglect Him or they are in ignorance of the one only true God. Whatever the case may be, these men and women and children live in sin and in rebellion against God and His ways.
John also looks at the darkness in the public institutions of his day. He sees the Pharisees and Sadducees and the rest of the Jewish Sanhedrin with their opposition to Jesus. He sees Pilate and Herod and the cult of worship that surrounds the Roman Emperor. He sees the Roman Empire – based upon conquest, subjection, and idol gods. He sees false faiths and religions that worship what is made rather than the Almighty Creator. He sees immorality and injustice and godlessness.
If John was looking at the darkness of our present age, he would point at those who want no Christ or prayer or the Bible in public schools, city halls, or courtrooms. He would point at the pro-choice and gay rights movement. He would point to the false prophets and teachers that lead thousands astray with their lies and heresies. He would point to our Central Valley with our street gangs, meth labs, marijuana farms, drive-by shootings, and car thefts. He would point to the baby-boomers and generation X and their preoccupation with drugs, alcohol, sex, and suicide.
John knows there is a spiritual world of darkness too. He knows about Satan and his host of evil spirits and demons. He knows how they oppose God and Christ at every turn. He knows how they rejoice in lies, prejudice, arrogance, wrongs, and every form of sin.
Lastly, John looks within his own heart. He sees that darkness is there as well. He knows that within himself and you and me there is sin and evil and all sorts of desires that run counter to the will of God.
B Darkness. Darkness everywhere. Deep darkness. Darkness that many times throughout history threatens to overcome the light. I think of the days of Noah. When God looked down from heaven upon the world of men, he saw only one family that still loved Him and served Him. I think of Sodom and Gomorrah. Not even 10 righteous persons could be found in that city. I think of Israel during the days of Elijah. Out of a population numbered in the millions, only 7,000 did not bend the knee before Baal. I think of Nazi Germany or the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe, the U.S.S.R., and China. I think of Western Europe – less than 10 percent of the people attend church on a regular basis anymore. The darkness threatens to overwhelm and overcome the light.
C Darkness. Darkness everywhere. Deep darkness. This is the verdict: men love darkness instead of light (Jn 3:19). These are not my words; this comes from the Bible. Mankind is like mushrooms, or at least some varieties of mushrooms. The white mushrooms grow in complete darkness. They love darkness and thrive in darkness. Mankind, by nature – sinful nature – loves darkness. Mankind, by nature, loves the deeds of darkness and the absence of light. Mankind, by nature, prefers darkness over light. We prefer sin and evil to righteousness and good. That's how black and how deep our darkness is.
A Deep within each person is a God-created awareness of darkness. And, deep within each person is a God-created desire for light. The Apostle Paul speaks of God's General Revelation that is enough to leave anyone without excuse when they take the wrong way instead of the right way (Rom 1:20f). John Calvin speaks here of the conscience or of common grace.
What do people do with this awareness of darkness and desire for light? The normal response of sinful man is to suppress their knowledge of the truth (Rom 1:18). The normal response of sinful man is to exchange the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like man and birds and animals and reptiles (Rom 1:23). The normal response of sinful man is to look in the wrong places and turn to the wrong things. The Greeks, for instance, turned to philosophy, wisdom, and knowledge. The Jews turned to their legalism. Superstitious people of all ages turn to false faiths, false religions, false prophets, and false teachings. The modern man and woman turn to science, psychology, or therapy.
B In contrast to all of these, John tells us that Jesus is "the true light that gives light to every man" (Jn 1:9). He is "the light (that) shines in the darkness" (Jn 1:5). This means that men everywhere should turn to Jesus instead of philosophy, knowledge, science, or whatever. This is the proper response – the only response – when people look within and become aware of darkness and a desire for light.
Jesus is the light of the world. Yet, many don't recognize Him for Whom He is. John writes,
(John 1:10) He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.Even His own people, the Jews, did not recognize Him:
(John 1:11) He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.Instead, they wanted to seize Him and stone Him (cf 1 Cor 2:8). Today, too, many don't recognize Jesus for Whom He really is. So they neglect Him or ignore Him or reject Him!
Topic: ChristLike Peterson, many fail to recognize Jesus as the light, the true light, of the world. What about you? Do you know Who He is?
Subtopic: Glory of
Title: Hidden Treasure
Tom Peterson, a New Jersey banking executive, was renovating an old farmhouse he'd purchased. It was on the township's historical register, so he asked members of the local historical society to walk through the house with him. "As we passed an old hanging lamp," Peterson recalls, "one of them said, 'Be careful with that because you never know what you might have.' I tucked that away, but the place was falling apart, so preserving a lamp was the least of my concerns."
Luckily, the lamp wasn't damaged as Peterson gutted the house. He eventually worked his way up to the lamp and saw a "Stickley Workshop" stamp on top. Some online research convinced Peterson that he'd found an authentic product of the legendary American furniture company. So he sent a photo to Rago Arts, a nearby auction house, which estimated the lamp would bring $20,000 to $30,000. "I thought, 'You've got to be kidding me,'" Peterson says.
As it turns out, the estimate was way off. When the dust settled, the lamp sold for a whopping $310,000 – $10,000 more than he'd paid for the entire house.
III Light Overcomes Darkness
A The purpose of light is to shine in darkness, to oppose darkness, to overcome and dispel darkness. The power goes out – what is the first thing you do? You dig out candles or flashlights or glow sticks or camping lanterns. You use light to overcome the darkness. This is true for Jesus too. That's what John says to us in verse 5:
(Jn 1:5) The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it [or, as a note at the bottom of our pew Bible puts it – has not overcome it].
Over and over again, no matter how strong it seems, darkness has not prevailed over light. Over and over again, no matter how hard it tries, the darkness is not able to overcome the light.
It is possible for the darkness to overcome the light in our homes. The power can go off, the batteries in our flashlights can go dead, the fuel in our lanterns can be used up. But this can never happen in the spiritual realm. The darkness cannot prevail because Jesus is the true light that "shines in the darkness." John doesn't say Jesus is the true light that will shine or that did shine. Rather, he expresses continuing action. He tells us that Jesus has shone, that He is shining, and that He will shine. As the light of the world, Jesus never ceases to shine. Therefore, the darkness has not and does not and will not overcome the light.
B We see this in the beginning already. "In the beginning ... the earth was formless and empty," says the Bible, and "darkness was over the surface of the deep ..." (Gen 1:1-2). And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light (Gen 1:3). The darkness did not prevail.
The darkness was deep and black when man first fell into sin. Curse after curse, judgment after judgment, was pronounced by God upon the serpent, upon the woman, upon the man, and even upon the ground. But the darkness was not so deep and so black that there was no light. For God announced a Savior Who would crush Satan's head even though Satan would strike His heal (Gen 3:15). The darkness did not overcome the light.
The darkness was also deep and black at Calvary. For three hours, in the middle of the day, a heavy darkness descended upon the land. For three hours Christ was forsaken by His Father. For three hours the forces of darkness held sway. But even then the darkness did not overcome the light. Not only did the darkness lift, but three days later the darkness of the tomb was replaced with the brightness and glory of the resurrected Lord. Again, the darkness did not overcome the light.
The same thing happened during the ministry of Jesus. Jesus saw a man blind from birth. The poor man lived in darkness. Jesus announced, "I am the light of the world." Then He spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. When the man went and washed in the Pool of Siloam his darkness was turned into light; he was given sight (John 9). The darkness did not overcome the light.
The same thing happens at the end of time. There is war and rumor of war, earthquakes, famines, the love of man grows cold, a man's enemies are the members of his own household. But Jesus will come, His glory will shine, and the darkness will be chased away forever.
C What has happened throughout the history of salvation happens today as well. Today, too, the darkness does not overcome the light. Every time a sinner – by the grace of God – repents of sin and turns to Jesus, light overcomes darkness rather than darkness overcoming light. Every time a Christian – by the strength of God – resists sin or flees sin, darkness fails to overcome the light. Every time a good deed is done – the hungry are fed, the lonely are visited, the sorrowing are comforted, the poor are assisted, the sick are encouraged – we see an instance of light overcoming darkness. Every time an abortion is stopped, an illness is healed, a broken relationship is restored, and a wounded soul is made whole, then too we see light overcoming darkness.
D "The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it." This should be obvious in your life and in my life.
First, we should be people without the darkness of sin. We are in the light, not in the darkness. So we should live as children of light (Eph 5:8) and not as children of darkness. Paul identifies the deeds of darkness for us: bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, malice, sexual immorality, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking, idolatry (Eph 4:29 - 5:7). If we are in the light, none of these should be found in our life. Instead, our lives should be full of the fruit of the light: goodness, righteousness, and truth (Eph 5:9).
Second, the light of Jesus should be obvious in us. People should be able to look at us and see the radiance of Christ. They should be able to look at us and see the light of Christ in us.
By nature, we are darkness and in darkness. By nature, Christ is light and brings light. Praise God that when the light shines in the darkness, the darkness has not overcome it. And, praise God that the darkness cannot overcome it.
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