************ Sermon on John 12:46 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 21, 2003
"I Have Come as a Light"
Candle Light Service - 2003
Jesus speaks of light and darkness. This much is clear from our text as well as from elsewhere in Scripture: the world lives in darkness and Jesus is the light that chases away the darkness.
I The World Lives in Darkness
A The world lives in darkness. "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.
B Jesus tells us that the world lives in darkness. The historical setting of our verse was certainly a dark time in Israel's history. The nation was conquered 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.
The world lives in darkness. There is more in mind than the darkness of defeat and occupation. I came across a poem this past week which speaks to this:
Darkness stands for the Christless life
Darkness is hostile to the Light
Darkness stands for the ignorance of life apart from Christ
Darkness stands for the chaos of life without God
Darkness stands for the immorality of the Christless life.
Darkness is characteristically unfruitful.
Darkness is connected with lovelessness and hate
And darkness is the abode of the enemies of Christ and the final goal of those who will not accept him.
To be in "darkness" means to not know God and the things of God; it means to be ignorant of divine things. I think of the complaint the Lord Himself makes through the prophets:
(Is 1:3) The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.In other words, the people are dumber than cattle and donkeys because these animals, at least, know their master. Or, this word from Hosea:
(Hos 4:6) ... my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.Because of ignorance of God and the things of God people fall into the darkness of sin, error, and falsehood.
To live in darkness also means to do the shameful deeds of darkness: sexual immorality, impurity, greed, theft, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking, falsehood, slander, bitterness, rage, brawling, and malice (cf Eph 4:25-5:12). Take a look at the daily news in our newspapers or on our TVs – we see darkness everywhere: murder charges against Scott Peterson and the Washington D.C. snipers, rape charges against Kobe Bryant, sexual abuse charges against Michael Jackson. And, do you know what is even worse? What is even worse is that we see much of this within the church and within you and me as well!
To live in darkness means you wanting 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. We see an instance of this in our Scripture reading. John tells us that even after Jesus had done miraculous signs in the presence of the Jews, "they still would not believe in him" (Jn 12:37). They saw or heard that Jesus changed water into wine, healed the official's son, healed the paralyzed man at the pool, multiplied the fish and loaves, walked on water, healed a man born blind, and raised Lazarus from the grave – yet, they refused to believe in Him. They loved darkness rather than light.
(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.
To live in darkness means you don't confess Christ before men. In our Scripture reading John tells us many of the leaders of the Jews believed in Jesus.
(John 12:42-43) But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; (43) for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.Isn't that sad? It is a sign of darkness when people who know better don't live for Christ.
The world lives 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: Man's love for the darkness of sin deprives him of all spiritual vision. He is in darkness. In loving the darkness the power of sight is lost.
Title: SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS
In Kentucky there is a great deep cave which stretches away for several miles under ground, and is inhabited by blind fish. In loving the darkness rather than the light these poor fish have lost the power of sight. They have eyes, but they are no longer able to see.
James Smith, Handfuls on Purpose, vol. 3, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman Publishing Co., 1971).
II Jesus is the Light
A In our text for this evening Jesus tells us why He has come into the world:
(Jn 12:46) I have come into the world as a light, so that no one ... should stay in darkness.
"I have come into the world as a light." Notice, Jesus doesn't say "I have the light." Rather, He says, "I have come as a light." What does it mean to be light? Jesus answers this question in another place when He says the light is the "light of life" (Jn 8:12). At the beginning of his gospel, John writes,
(Jn 1:4) In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
"I have come as a light." Light means life. Light signifies life-giving power. Think of the 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 have come as a 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.
B Jesus identifies Himself as "a light." In other words, there are other lights beside Him. As the Bible makes clear, the prophets and apostles and even the church are also lights. But, of course, they are lesser lights next to Christ. He is the one true light and all other lights are but reflectors of His light.
III Believe in Jesus
A Jesus has come as a light. The world walks in darkness and hates the light. How, then, can the light of Jesus shine in a world of darkness? 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 says,
(Jn 12:46) I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. To go from darkness to light we must believe in Jesus. There is no light apart from Jesus so we must believe in Him.
But how? We love darkness not light! So how can we believe in Him and come to the light? John tells us the answer in verse 40:
(John 12:40) "He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn--and I would heal them."God needs to lift the scales from our eyes so we can see. With His Word and Spirit He needs to make us open to His presence. He, by grace, needs to make the first move.
B "Believe in me." What is meant here by "believe"? To believe in Jesus is to believe He is the light. It is to believe He is the source of life and the well-spring of being. To believe in Jesus is to believe that all life comes from Him and stems from Him.
In the Bible, belief involves more than just the mind. It also involves the heart, the tongue, the life. You see, we must be more than hearers of the Word; we must also be doers of the Word (Mt 7:24; Rom 10:9; James 1:22; John 12:47).
Jesus is speaking of a whole-hearted discipleship, not of a casual relationship. Jesus is speaking of a life of commitment. Jesus is speaking of a way of life. 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 ... (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.
"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness," says Jesus. That's a promise. Those who, by grace, believe in Jesus are given the light of life. Those who, by grace, believe in Jesus are no longer in darkness.
C "Believe in me," says Jesus. And you know what else happens? We not only leave the darkness and share in His light but we also become light-bearers.
The apostle Paul was perhaps one of the greatest travelers of his day. He visited many lands, and saw lots of new things in different countries, and had many new experiences. When he returned he wrote a good deal; his epistles were widely read by the early churches. Yet, in all the writings of the apostle, there is not one line that is descriptive of the scenery of the countries through which he passed; not a line telling of the wonders of the architecture of his day; not a line describing the customs of the people; not a line of his personal experiences. Isn't this strange? There is a reason for it. The apostle was "blind." As he traveled about he was blind to all else but one thing. On the way to Damascus, when he met the Lord Jesus, He was blinded by the vision of Christ's great glory, and from that time on he could see nothing but Him and tell of nothing but His Gospel.
As I was talking with a few men before the service this evening we saw a beautiful example of this. As all of you know, Joostie is in the Airforce Academy. When he goes off Academy grounds he is required to wear his uniform. Why? As a reminder that wherever he goes he represents the Academy. That's a picture of the Christian. Wherever we go we are to represent Christ.
Topic: WitnessesIf we believe in Christ, then we hold up the light of the glory of Christ so that others may see.
Title: Let Your Light So Shine
In the early days of rail travel, crossing guards warned travelers of approaching trains. These men were especially important at night. When trains came, they stood in the middle of the road, swinging a lantern to warn coach drivers of the impending danger. One night, there was a terrible accident at a particular crossing. A coach collided with a train, killing a family of six. An inquest by the railroad authorities subpoenaed Ben, the guard on duty that night. "Ben," the chairman of the review board asked, "were you on duty the night of the accident?" "Yes, sir, I was," Ben replied nervously. "Did you know the train was coming?" "Yes, sir, I did." "Did you take your place in front of the crossing?" "Yes, sir, I did." "Did you have your lantern with you?" "Yes, sir, I did." Then the chairman thanked Ben and told him to step down. The inquest closed the case without knowing the cause of the accident. Speculation was that the coach driver was drunk or blind.
Many years later, Ben lay on his deathbed, surrounded by his family. Softly he began to moan, "Those poor people. Those poor, poor people." His oldest son leaned down to hear his father. "Are you talking about the people in that coach, Dad?" "Yes. Those poor, poor people." "But, Dad! Don't you remember? There was an inquest. You were cleared; it wasn't your fault!" "They forgot to ask one question," Ben gasped. "What didn't they ask?" "They forgot to ask," Ben whispered, "if my lantern was lit."
Jesus is the light of the world. If we believe in 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.
The world lives in darkness. But Jesus is the light that chases away the darkness. Let's celebrate that fact as we go through the rest of the service.
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