Monday, 18 April 2011 12:29

I Am The Light Of The World

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We focus today on the second “I am” statement of Jesus in the gospel of John. Last week we looked at Jesus’ saying in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” Now just listen to this next “I am” statement found in John 8:12. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” You have to agree, that’s quite an awesome statement. Imagine someone saying that about himself. The incredible reality is, of course, Jesus here is not telling a lie, and He is not here promoting a legend just or simply speaking as someone who lost his mind. No, but this is the gospel truth about Him. Jesus Christ is the light of the world. Are you interested in hearing more about Him as the light of the world? This is a bold statement but so filled with gospel tidings for sure, considering its truthfulness, and its invitation, and its comfort, and its challenge. Let us follow these four points in opening up the text.

I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Oh, just think about this statement of Jesus and its truthfulness. I mean, Jesus isn’t telling a lie here, He is not slightly exaggerating even. He is telling us the absolute truth. When Jesus describes Himself as the light of the world He describes Himself as the one hope for this fallen world. He declares Himself as the Saviour God Whom the Lord had promised even the very day Adam and Eve fell into sin and brought spiritual and moral darkness into this world.

Jesus saying He is the light of the world fits so well too with the Old Testament telling and foretelling of Him. David writes in Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” In another place he writes, “With thee is the fountain of life [and] in thy light shall we see light.” In Isaiah 60 the prophet, speaking of the coming Messiah and His kingdom, prophesies: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee; for behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” Do you know the Old Testament history of how the Israelites, when coming out of Egypt with Moses as their leader, were led then by a great cloudy pillar of fire which symbolized God’s presence and guidance and protection, giving light to them even in the night and making it dark for their enemies even in the day? As the pillar of cloud and fire gave light to the Israelites and guided them through the wilderness, so Jesus is the true guide Who guides to heaven through the dark wilderness of this world. The coming Messiah is also spoken of in Malachi as the Sun of righteousness. What the sun is in nature He came to be for this lost world, spiritually and morally, bringing light and life to mankind steeped in the darkness of sin. Zacharias foretold about Christ that He would come to “give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” [Luke 1:79] Jesus in describing Himself as the light of the world was only saying what God had foretold of Him and His coming. His words are in line with Holy Scripture and so we know His testimony is true.

The context of our text further brings out too that Jesus’ testimony is so true here. In John 7 and 8 Jesus is attacked by the Jewish leaders. They want to lay hands on Him and kill Him but they cannot for His hour had not yet come. We know when Jesus did die on the cross, it was not because His enemies had finally caught Him but because Jesus voluntarily laid down His life as sacrifice for sin on behalf of sinners. We se the Jews, not being able to take Jesus, try to discredit Him somehow. In the immediate context the Jewish religious leaders were trying to trap Him into speaking against what Moses said. But clearly Jesus outshined his critics by far so that they all left feeling condemned and ashamed. Then in the verses following Jesus’ second “I am” statement, we see his critics trying to discount Jesus’ words by saying it was spoken by Jesus alone and not by two or three witnesses. In the Jewish law, given by God in Deuteronomy, the Jews knew God had said [Deuteronomy 19:15] “…at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnessess, shall the matter be established.” Well, says Jesus, ‘admitting that the testimony of two witnesses is trustworthy, I call you to observe that there are two witnesses to My Divine nature and mission, namely, my Father and I.’ And even so Jesus proves with authority what He proclaims of Himself including this bold statement, “I am the light of the world.”

In saying He is the light of the world Jesus actually declares Himself to be God and equal to God. In I John 1:5 John writes “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” And Jesus tells us here in John 8:12 this is what is true about Him, “I am the light of the world.” This is a bold statement for in so describing Himself Jesus makes Himself equal to God. He identifies Himself as the long-awaited Messiah, and He declares Himself as the only hope for this fallen world, lost in sin and darkness. Notice too that Jesus says He is the light of the world. Literally, the kosmos, meaning here also He is the one light for all peoples over the length and breadth of this earth throughout the ages. Jesus’ second “I am” statement is surely a bold statement but its truthfulness and gospel proclamation cannot be disputed. Do you know this as so true for yourself too?

With what Jesus says, He proclaims no one has to live and die in the darkness of sin and evil. I am the light of the world,” says Jesus. And, dear friends, for Jesus really to be the light of the world, He had to enter in the darkness of God’s judgment against sin, which also climaxed on the cross of Calvary. The gospel accounts also inform us that from noon to 3:00 p.m. on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion there came a fearful darkness upon Calvary’s hill and the whole land. That darkness symbolized something of the agonizing punishment for sin Jesus endured on sinner’s behalf, paying in the sinner’s place the price for sin and granting those who trust in Him the light of life instead. When Jesus says “I am the light of the world” He was speaking nothing but the absolute truth, and it is a gospel truth that may give hope in a world of darkness still. Truly this is the gospel, as the hymn writer put it:

The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin,

The light of the world is Jesus;

Like sunshine at noonday His glory shone in

The light of the world is Jesus.

Come to the light, t’is shining for thee”… yes, for you and me!

Saying that brings us also to our next reason why this bold statement of Jesus can be of so much blessing. In John 8:12 we have a gospel statement not only so truthful but it is a gracious invitation and offer, its gospel call to all you might say. When Jesus says, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life”, He is actually making an invitation to those who walk in darkness to come to Him out of the darkness into His marvelous light. The Bible makes very clear that all who live in unbelief and sin, and in the ways of this world, according to the lusts of the flesh, and not by the grace of God nor according to the Word of God, all such, each and everyone, live in darkness. This world, ever since the fall into sin, is in a state and condition of moral and spiritual darkness. Naturally people know nothing rightly of themselves, or of God, or holiness, or heaven.

We need light or we remain in the ignorance and darkness of sin. Do you confess this as true of yourself too, and all around us, as we are by nature? In Paul’s speech to King Agrippa recorded in Acts 26:18 the Apostle says Christ came to him and called him to go to the Gentiles with the gospel “to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” In Proverbs 4 God’s Word says, “the way of the wicked is as darkness… but the path of the just is as the shining light.” Now Jesus when He in our text declares Himself the light of the world, that is not just a proclamation but also an invitation. So also Jesus adds these words, “…he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness.” He that followeth me” means he that believes in Christ and stays with Him and obeys Him in accordance with all God’s Word. In John 12:46 Jesus says thus, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide [remain] in darkness.”

To follow Christ is to commit yourself wholly and entirely to Him as your only leader and Saviour and to submit yourself to Him in every matter in regards to doctrine and practice. As Israel followed the pillar of cloud and fire in all their journeying, moving wherever it moved and stopping wherever it stopped, asking no questions, marching on in faith, so must each follow Christ. And this is Jesus’ call and invitation also in John 8:12. It’s an amazing call considering the context. Jesus is meeting with people living in sin. Here He has before Him this woman caught in adultery. Jesus is also in the presence of people hardened against Him. Think of these religious leaders who hate Him and want to kill Him. Jesus is in the middle of skeptics and scorners and sinners and all now may hear this His gospel word as He outshines His critics and shames His scorners and forgives sinners. “I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness.” Don’t miss that first part of vs. 12 here. Then spake Jesus again unto them saying, I am the light of the world.” In the middle of that very messy, sinful, miserable context with so much sin and evil all round, it is exactly then that you have this second “I am” statement proclaiming remedy from all the darkness of sin and evil.

Do you hear and heed Jesus’ invitation to come to Him, the light of the world? Or do you perhaps, like those in our text, more dispute with Jesus over Who He says He is, and you doubt and scorn Him and simply refuse to acknowledge Him as the light of the world? In the first and third chapter of John’s gospel we are told some sad news. In chapter 1 we read Jesus came as the light. He was in the world and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. And more specifically even it says in John 1:11, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” Could that be true of you? The phrase, “his own received him not” refers especially to the covenant people of God, those whom God has favoured, to whom He pledged even with sign and seal, that He would be their God, their light and salvation, “and they received him not.” Dear friends, are you too maybe pushing Christ aside choosing rather to be in the darkness than to follow the light?

Listen here to the words of John 3:19-20. “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved [discovered].” Are you turning away from the God of light by Whom and through Whom you need not walk in darkness, but without Whom you continue in the darkness, whether you realize it or not? Are you today once again rejecting the Lord Jesus as the light of the world, only to perish forever in the darkness of sin and judgment?

To reject Christ as the light of the world, do you know what that means? Consider what is said in Jude vs. 13. There we read that the “blackness of darkness forever” is reserved for all who remain unbelieving and unrepentant and defiant and disobedient. Hear this, won’t you? To them is reserved “the blackness of darkness for ever.” Oh, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world” and in this text Jesus Christ is not just making a proclamation but giving an invitation. And John says in chapter 1:12, “… as many as received him to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” You don’t need first to have some light before you come to Christ. No, but come to Him in all your darkness and with all your sins, trusting Him as the light of the world, and as Saviour of sinners, Jesus will give you light. None needs to be excluded from this gracious invitation in its sinful setting.

When Jesus says He is the light of the world, that means He is there as Saviour God, not just for a few only but for all mankind. Yes, like the sun He shines for the benefit of all, though all may not value or use His light. If you keep on in the darkness of sin, that is not because Jesus won’t shine on you and in you and over you, but only because you love the darkness and will not come to the light. I pray that may not remain true of you. Jesus exhorts in John 12:36, “While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.” Quoting again from the hymnwriter:

Ye dwellers in darkness with sin-blinded eyes—

The Light of the world is Jesus!

Go wash at His bidding and light will arise,

The Light of the world is Jesus!

Come to the light, ‘tis shining for thee”

Yes, for you and me! Most certainly, to come to the Saviour, trusting and following Him, results in so much light and blessing, a gospel fact which also brings us now to our third main point.

I am the light of the world” says Jesus. “he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.” This is a most blessed gospel statement that should so encourage us in God’s ways, considering its truthfulness, its invitation, and next, notice too, its comfort. Listen to what Jesus says. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life. Do you hear that gospel promise? Christ will make as many as believe in Him to be children of light and to have Christ in their heart and Christ as their guide and protector and Saviour in this life not only, but forevermore. To have the light of life is to possess Christ, and to have His light, His love, His mercy, His Spirit, His salvation in you and with you, for you and above you, behind you and underneath you and ahead of you. It is to be filled with God’s mercy and love and wisdom and care in all your ways and all your days, even when you come to your last breath and must meet with death. Even then the light of life in you can’t be quenched. No, instead God’s people, joined to Christ by faith, can meet death shining brightly still by God’s grace for in and with Christ we have the promise of eternal life in glory for body and soul.

When you have the light of life in you, you may walk in love and joy and peace having all your hope in Christ and bearing the fruit of the Spirit to His praise and glory. In his first epistle John makes clear you don’t have the light of life if you live in hatred against another or if you can live on in the sense of comfortably remaining in the way of any sin at all. When we are children of the light and the children of the day, as Paul says in I Thessalonians 5:5, we are not of the night or of darkness. This is the great blessing for all who will believe and follow Christ - deliverance from darkness and possession of light, and deliverance from sin and judgment, and possession of salvation and even of eternal life in glory. Christ is the Saviour of sinners, and what a great gracious complete Saviour He is. The path of the just is as a shining light that shines more and more unto the perfect day whereas the way of the wicked is as darkness, and they know not at what they stumble, we read in Proverbs 4.

Oh, dear friends, do you see with me why truly we can say John 8:12 is such a rich text meant so to thrill our souls and bless us in our earthly journey? Jesus is the light of the world, and He promises that he that follows after Him shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life. Not only the truthfulness of this statement and its invitation is all so gracious and grand but so is its mighty comfort. Quoting again from that same song mentioned before, it is true, wonderfully true in and through Christ for all who trust and follow Him:

No darkness have we who in Jesus abide,

The light of the world is Jesus;

We walk in the light when we follow the guide,

The light of the world is Jesus.

And concerning the future beyond death’s door, what may the believer testify?

“No need of the sunlight in heaven we’re told,

The light of that world is Jesus;

The Lamb is the Light in the City of gold—

The llight of the world is Jesus.

Come to the light, T’is shining for thee” …

Indeed, for you and me! Yes, that’s the gospel truth and again, isn’t this truth, this comforting gospel, not only so awesome to know for ourselves but something to be so motivated by in reaching out to others?

Here we also come to our fourth and last point in regards to our text, namely, its challenge to reach out with the light of the gospel, its mission-minded challenge, you could say. When you know Jesus is the light of the world and you respond to Him in hearty trust and obedience, having the light of life you also then become a light to others in this dark world. Jesus thus also refers to His children, His followers, as children of the light. In Matthew 5, Jesus exhorts His disciples, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Those who have the light of life are given the calling to let the light of the gospel shine forth, and that more and more. Being touched by the gospel, we are called as Paul says in Philippians 2:15 to live blamelessly, as “the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world. We are to show forth, says Peter, “the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.” [I Peter 2:9b] To do so means especially to promote God’s Word to others, both in what we say and how we live. The Word of God written is called appropriately also, “a lamp and a light”.

Through the Word of God brought to others and lived out before others, God will lead more and more from darkness into His marvelous light. The Holy Spirit uses His people, led by God’s Word, to be instruments of light in this world of darkness. We are called to let the light shine. Of John the Baptist Jesus said in John 5:35,”He was a burning and shining light”. Could Jesus say the same of you and me? If not, why not? God’s people know from experience that living in worldliness and giving into bosom sins, and being careless about so called little sins, those so called “little foxes”, that all can surely dim our lamps and make little gospel light shine in us, or through us, or from us.

Let us watch then against everything that would intercept close communion with Christ and diligent obedience to His Word. Too often the Christian church altogether and individually fails to be the light it could be and should be. Are you helping to let the light of Jesus shine wherever you go, in whatever you do, with whoever you are? That is the Christian challenge implied also in our text for us today. And with whatever darkness you may be in, or struggle with still in being a light, doesn’t John 8:12 itself give the solution, teaching Jesus is the light of the world? Wherever it is dark still, or you have to deal with darkness, whether from within or around you, Jesus can bring light into the darkness as the light of the world! Go to Him, and follow Him, and you shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life, and you will help spread the light. Jesus said so, and all who follow Him know He speaks the truth, the blessed gospel truth.

Let us hear the conclusion of this gospel message. The conclusion is that in a world of darkness there is the light of the gospel as revealed in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners. Jesus’ testimony is, as told to us in John 8:12, in this second “I am” statement, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.” Oh, considering the truthfulness of this text, its invitation, its comfort, and its challenge, will you not too turn from the darkness of sin and this world, and follow after the light found in Christ Jesus, and seek also ever to beam with His light in this world of so much darkness still? Can there be any excuse for you living on without Jesus’ light beaming in you and through you and from you? To reject Christ is to go on in darkness and to one day be in that fearful place where there is blackness of darkness forever. In contrast with Jesus as the light of the world, you may have His Word as a lamp to your feet and a light upon your path every day, and one day be found in that place where, as Revelation 21:25 declares, “there shall be no night there” but only everlasting light and life. Oh, what reasons to pay attention to John 8:12 then, don’t you think so too? Amen.

Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor

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