************ Sermon on John 8:12 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 24, 2000
"Jesus – The Light of the World"
I Jesus: The Promised Light
A On the evening of the first night of the Feast of Tabernacles, there was a ceremony called the "Illumination of the Temple," which involved the ritual lighting of four golden candelabra in the Court of Women. For additional reflection, each person lit four candlesticks and set them in a floating bowl, producing such a spectacle of light that it is said that all Jerusalem basked in its glow. All night long the light shone. In celebration and anticipation, the greatest, wisest, and holiest of Israel's men danced before the Lord and sang psalms of joy and praise, while the people watched and waited.
They watched and waited, hoped and prayed, because this festival reminded the citizens of Israel that God had promised to send a light, the Light, to a sin-darkened world. God promised to send a Redeemer, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Son of God. God promised to send Someone Who would renew Israel's glory, release them from bondage, and restore their joy. In a couple of minutes the young people will read these promises of God (Numbers 24:17; Isaiah 9:1-2; Isaiah 60:1).
B The setting of our Scripture reading is the Temple, the Court of Women, on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. The candles have been lit and the people have again been reminded of the Messiah's coming. In this setting Jesus makes a dramatic announcement: "I am the light of the world." Everyone knew what He meant. Jesus is saying:
"What you've been watching and waiting and hoping and praying for in the Feast of Tabernacles is now before you. I am the light God has promised you."
C "I am the light of the world." Let's take a closer look at this sentence. We first notice the words "I am." In the Greek a great deal of emphasis falls on this phrase. "I am." This calls to mind God's great "I AM" to Moses:
(Ex 3:14) God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" "I am," says Jesus. "I AM," says God. The conclusion is inescapable: Jesus claims divinity for Himself; He claims to be part of the Godhead. He claims to be the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Son of God. "I am."
Scripture records for us that the Pharisees and the people were incredulous. Here was a man, an ordinary man, claiming to be the promised Light, the Anointed One, the Messiah, coequal to and coeternal with the great "I AM."
D "I am the light." Notice, Jesus doesn't say "I have the light." Rather, He says, "I am the light." What does it mean to be light? The last phrase of our text explains this: the light is the "light of life." At the beginning of his gospel, John writes,
(Jn 1:4) In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
"I am the light." Light means life. Light signifies life-giving power. Think, for a moment, of the everyday miracle we know as photosynthesis. In photosynthesis light means life. In the presence of light, green plants convert water, carbon dioxide, and minerals into carbohydrates and oxygen. If there would be no light, there would be no photosynthesis. If there would be no photosynthesis, there would be no more life. Light means life.
Jesus says, "I am the light." Light means life. This means Jesus is the source of life and the well-spring of being. All life comes from Jesus and stems from Jesus. If you want to live, to really live, you must turn to Christ.
II The World Walks in Darkness
A "I am the light of the world." Jesus says this in a rather dark time of Israel's history. The nation was occupied by a foreign power. An army of occupation was encamped in Jerusalem. Uncircumcised foreigners lived in Israel's cities and walked on its roads. Taxes were forcibly collected for a heathen emperor many miles away. Yes, it was a dark and dismal time.
"I am the light of the world." Imagine that. In the midst of Israel's darkness and despair, Jesus announces that God's new and glorious age has dawned.
B "I am the light of the world." "World" in John's Gospel has a special meaning. It is not the same as "earth," or "planet." In John's Gospel, "world" means
the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God and hostile to the cause of Christ.The Pharisees, because of their hatred for Jesus, are part of the world. The Jews who rejected Christ are part of the world. The people who mocked and jeered and yelled "Crucify him! Crucify him!" are part of the world.
"I am the light of the world." It is the world that "walks in darkness." To be in "darkness" means to not know God and the things of God. To "walk in darkness" means to live for, to regulate one's life according, to conduct one's life by, the darkness. In other words, the world wants nothing to do with the light. Says John at the beginning of the Gospel,
(Jn 1:5) The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
(Jn 3:19) This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
"I am the light of the world." The world "walks in darkness." So the world wants nothing to do with the light. In fact, it fears the light. It fears the light for where there is light, there is no darkness, there can be no darkness. The world fears the light for light chases the darkness away.
Topic: DarknessIn the same way, the "world" rejects the Savior because darkness cannot stand the presence of light.
Title: Lover of Darkness
When the Bastille, a castle-like prison in Paris, was about to be destroyed in 1789, a convict was brought out who had been confined in one of its gloomy cells for many years. But instead of joyfully welcoming his liberty, he begged to be taken back. It had been such a long time since he had seen the sunshine that his eyes could not endure its brightness. His only desire was to die in the murky dungeon where he had been a captive.
III Follow Jesus
A I am sure you realize we now have a problem. If the darkness cannot stand the light, how it is possible for anyone to go from darkness into light? If darkness hates light, how is it possible for anyone to go from a life of evil and enmity to a life of joy and peace?
Jesus tells us the answer in the other words of our text for this evening:
(Jn 8:12) "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." To go from darkness into light we, by grace, must follow Jesus. There is no light apart from Jesus so we, by grace, must have a right relationship with Him.
"Follow me." That's a present participle in the Greek. That means a continuous following. Jesus is speaking of a whole-hearted discipleship, not of a casual relationship. "Follow me." Jesus is speaking of a life of commitment. "Follow me." Jesus is speaking of a way of life. "Follow me." By grace, we have to cut ties with all the works of darkness. The Apostle Paul says,
(Eph 5:8-12) For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (9) (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) (10) and find out what pleases the Lord. (11) Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (12) For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
B "I am the light of the world," says Jesus. "Follow me," says Jesus. "And you will have the light of life," says Jesus. That's a promise. Those who, by grace, follow Jesus are given the light of life. Those who, by grace, follow Jesus are put in possession of eternal life. Those who, by grace, follow Jesus, gain life, real life. Those who, by grace, follow Jesus, share in His life.
"Follow me," says Jesus. And you know what happens? We leave the darkness and we share in His light. Two things happen.
The first that happens when we follow Jesus, the light of the world, is that we live as children of light. Our lives become full of goodness, righteousness, and truth – instead of evil, wickedness, and lies. Is that what your life is like? Is your life full of light – the light of Christ? Or, is your life full of darkness – the darkness of the world that hates Christ?
The second thing that happens when we follow Jesus, the light of the world, is that we become light-reflectors.
Topic: LightJesus is the light of the world. If we follow Him, if we walk in the Sonlight, then we are reflectors of His light. We are to reflect the light of The Son so that someone in darkness may see. I am talking here about Missions, Evangelism, Outreach, and Witnessing. By word and deed we are to reflect the light of Jesus into the lives of friends, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow students who live and walk in darkness. But do we? Do you ever witness to others about Christ the light of a sin-darkened world? Is there someone you are working on and praying for who knows only darkness and not light?
Subtopic: Spiritual, Reflected
Title: Reflected Son-Light
In a tenement district in New York City, a boy in ragged clothes was seen with a small piece of broken mirror in his hand. Holding it high in the air he moved it slowly back and forth, watching the narrow slit of a window above him as he did so. "What are you doing?" a man suddenly demanded as he shook the youngster roughly by the shoulder. "Like most boys in this neighborhood, you're probably up to some mischief, aren't you?" The boy looked up into the stern face of his accuser and said, "See that window up there? Well, I have a little brother who has a room on that floor. He's a cripple. The only sunlight he ever sees is what I shine up to him with my mirror!"
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Let me ask you:
-Do you follow Jesus?
-Is yours a life of light?
-Do you reflect the light of Christ?
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page