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Author:Rev. George van Popta
 send email...
 www.vanpopta.ca
 
Congregation:Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church
 Ottawa, Ontario
 jubileechurch.ca
 
Preached At:Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church
 Ancaster, Ontario
 www.ancasterchurch.on.ca
 
Title:The Light of the World
Text:John 8:12 (View)
Occasion:Public Profession of faith
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2003-10-19
Added:2004-01-27
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Singing: Ps. 99:1,2,3; Ps. 99:5,6; Ps. 27:1,2; Hy. 15:1,3,4; Hy. 19:5,6; Ps. 150

Reading: John 7:1-14; 37-52

Text: John 8:12
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Today is a very special day for us.
Especially for Norman Ladd.
Today Norman will make a public profession of faith.
He wants to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, his Lord and his Saviour.
He wants to join the church-the congregation of those who are, together, following Christ.
Christ, the Light of the World.
Christ Jesus, in whom Norman, and we all, have eternal life.

I preach:

THE LORD JESUS, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, PROMISES LIGHT AND LIFE TO THOSE WHO FOLLOW HIM

1. His identity
2. His promise

1. It was the last day of the Jewish festival called the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Lord Jesus had been teaching many people.
He said those words we are focussing on this morning: I am the Light of the World.

The Lord Jesus never said anything by accident.
Everything he said had significance.
Even the time and place in which he made a certain statement had significance.
There were no accidents in the preaching and ministry of the Lord Jesus.
So we ask, "What is significant about the Lord Jesus announcing that he was the Light of the world specifically at the feast of Tabernacles?"

To answer that, we need to understand what this festival was about.
This feast was a week-long festival during which the people of Israel would commemorate how the LORD had led their ancestors out of Egypt through the desert.
They would come from all over the land of Israel to Jerusalem.
There they would build booths (also called tabernacles) out of branches.
And they would live in them for the whole week.
That's why it was called the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths.
As they lived in these booths they would remember how God had sheltered and protected their forefathers in the wilderness.

Their ancestors, 1500 years earlier, had been slaves in Egypt.
Through Moses God had set them free.
He led them out of Egypt.
The Lord God was going to lead them to the promised land.
But first they had to trek through a desert to get there.
Through the deserts of the Sinai Pen. between Egypt and the promised land (the land that would become the land of Israel).

While they were in the dangerous desert, the wilderness with all its hazards and perils, God protected them.
God led them through the desert, and the people followed him.

As God led them through the desert, He did so in a very impressive way (Ex. 13:21,22).
During the day the LORD led them by way of a pillar of cloud.
A tall cloud went before the people.
The Spirit of God was in that cloud.
At night, the cloud would change into a pillar of fire.
The Spirit of God was in that pillar of fire.
In this way the people of Israel could travel at night as well.
The huge pillar of fire gave the people light.
They did not often travel at night.
But in the first days of their escape from Egypt, they travelled day and night to set as much distance between Egypt and themselves as possible.

They followed the Light through the darkness of the desert, the wilderness.
Imagine how dark it would be in the desert.
The big power blackout of this past August gave us a bit of an idea of how dark it is when there are no lights.
In the wilderness, in the desert, there were no lights.
It was pitch black.
The people of Israel could confidently travel through the darkness of the desert at night because the LORD God went in front of them, leading the way, in a pillar of fire.
He gave them light.

The LORD would also speak to his people from the pillar of cloud.
From the pillar which, at night, would be a light-giving pillar.
As we sang in Psalm 99:5, "He to Israel spoke in a cloud of smoke."

The feast of Tabernacles commemorated this.
That God had led them by day and by night.
That he had taken care of them.
That he had provided for them.
That he had spoken to them.
That he had guided them.
That he had been their Light in the darkness of the desert.

At the feast of Tabernacles, one of the things the Jews of Jesus' day would do was light big torches in the temple compounds.
Large torches of fire would burn in memory of the pillar of fire.
These fiery torches would remind the worshippers of how God had led them by a pillar of fire through the dark wilderness.

To this festival the Lord Jesus came and spoke to the people.
He spoke the Word of God.
He said, "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me."
And then he became more specific.
He said that his teaching was from God.
As God had spoken to his people from the cloud of smoke, from the pillar of cloud and the pillar of smoke, so now he was speaking to them through the Lord Jesus-through Christ, the Word of God, the very perfect revelation of God.

Then the Lord Jesus said very explicitly, "I am the Light of the world."
He was the true meaning of what the torches burning on the temple grounds symbolized.
He was the Light, the pillar of fire, all must follow through this dark world.
He was the Light that God had promised ages ago.
Especially in the prophecies of Isaiah, God had promised that a great Light was going to shine in the midst of dark world.
Isaiah had even said that the light was going to begin shining in the Galilee province of Israel (which is where the Lord Jesus had come from-cf. Hy. 15).

A great controversy arose between the people.
Some said, "This man is a great prophet; He is the Christ."
Others said, "He's possessed by demons; He's a madman."
The people were divided because of Jesus, and because of what he said.
Some hung on his every word; others wanted to kill him.

Today, still, the world is divided on the Lord Jesus.
There are those who say: He is the Christ; He is the Saviour.
While others use his Name as a cuss-word, and don't know anything more about him and his claims.

What about you?
Do you understand that Jesus is the Light of the world?
Have you seen that?
Can you see that he is the promised Messiah who brings light to a dark world?
Do you believe in him as such?
Do you follow him?
Is he your guide like the pillar of fire guided the Israelites in the wilderness?

Christ says that he is the Light of the world.
Not a Light - one among many - take your choice!
He is the Light.
The one and only Light.
Just like there is only one sun that gives light to the world, so Christ is the one and only Light we must follow.
Take away the sun and the world is cast in utter darkness.
Remove Christ from your life, and there is no Light left-only darkness.

If you follow the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are following the one and only true Light in the world.

2. And you will not walk in darkness.
As the Lord said, "... he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of light."
That's what the Lord Jesus promises.

We can think back again to the Israelites wandering through the wilderness.
They had to follow God.
At night, when the darkness of the desert night enveloped them, they had to follow the pillar of fire with which God had lit their way.
And if they quit following the Light, they would get lost.
Lost in the desert, in the wilderness.

They followed the Light.
They followed the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, and God brought them safely through the darkness of the wilderness into his land.

When the Lord Jesus came 1500 years later, there was so much darkness in the world.
Spiritual darkness.
The darkness of sin.
The darkness of wrong teachings-even among the people of God.
The wrong idea that you were saved by your own good works rather than by the free grace of God was being taught.
So much darkness.
But then Christ came and he was a bright shining light in the darkness.

Today as well, Jesus Christ is the Light that shines in the darkness.
The world is in darkness.
The world is held in the grip of despair.
People are desperate.
People are anxious, confused.
They are scared about the future.
People grope for answers to the frustrations and dangers of life.

That's what it's like today.
How do we find our way through the trouble and the turmoil?
How do we find our way through the thick, suffocating darkness of fear and anxiety which is enveloping us?
How do we find our way through the dark world, through the valley of the shadow of death?
How do we find our way through a dark world that has turned its back on God and tries to solve its problems with guns and tanks, bombs and missiles?

How do we stay on track toward the time when the Lord Jesus Christ returns?
We follow the Light.
We follow Jesus.
We follow the only and the perfect Light of the world.
Most of the world has rejected this Light.
Most of the world wants nothing to do with him.
Many people have turned their backs on him and try to go it alone.
But we follow him.
Because he is the Light of the world.
He is the Light which has shone in the darkness.
It is only by following him that we can escape the suffocating darkness of a world that wants little or nothing to do with God.

You know how a light attracts night creatures.
The night creatures fly to the light.
The stay with the light.
They fly around it.
And if you pick up the light-say if it's a portable lantern-the night creatures follow it.

We are something like those night creatures.
By nature, we are children of darkness.
By nature, we belong to the darkness of a world that lives in sin and ignorance of God.
But the Light is shining.
Christ is shining in that darkness.
The light attracts us.
The light that says, "Come to me."
We go to Him-to the Light.
We go to Christ.
We follow him.
And we are safe with him.

We do not belong to the darkness anymore.
If we believe in Jesus Christ, we do not belong to the darkness anymore.

What about you?
Are you still a child of the darkness?
Or are you a child of the light?

Where are you at?
Still in the darkness?
Or have you come to the light which is Christ?
If you follow the Light of the world, Jesus Christ, then you are a child of the light.
Because then you are following the One who dealt with the darkness that God the Father allowed to descend upon His Son hanging on the cross.
When Jesus was on the cross bearing the sin of the whole human race, the Father rejected him.
He turned his back on his Son.
And for three hours, everything became dark.
The Light of the world was lost in darkness.

That darkness was a sign of God's anger against sin.
God cannot abide sin.
He has to turn his back on it.
When the sins of the human race were concentrated upon Jesus Christ, God's anger burned so terribly that he had to turn away.
It became dark.

But the Light of the world prevailed.
He, the perfect and sinless one, brought us through the darkness of God's anger.
In him, we are children of the light.

Christ is the Light of the world.
Follow him.
He will lead you through the darkness of a world separated from God.
If we follow him, we will not walk in that darkness.
We will walk in his Light.
We will have the light of life.

The Light of the world leads to life.
The Lord Jesus also promises that.
It is the light of life.

The pillar of fire led to life.
It led the people of God away from the deathly slavery in Egypt to new life in the Promised Land.

The Light of the world which arose in Galilee gave new life to a people suffocating in darkness.

The Light of the world gives us life today.

Do you want to live - really live?
Then follow Christ.

Do you know what true living is?

Some people think that early retirement is the essence of true living.
Others think that a party every weekend is really living.
They are sure that drugs and sex and rock'n'roll is really living.
Other are convinced that a Caribbean cruise or Disney World is the great life.
They are wrong, of course.

Jesus Christ tells us what true life is.
He tells us what real living is.
He says it in Jn 17:3 in his prayer to his Father.
He says, "And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."

Real living is knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ whom the Father sent to be the Light of life.
Everything else falls by the wayside and becomes insignificant.
Do you know God?
Do you know Jesus Christ?
That's the important question.
Do you know God through His Word, the Bible?
Do you know God through the preaching of the gospel by the Church of Christ.
And if you can answer "Yes", then you have life.
Then you are on the only right road following the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Light to eternal life.

Follow the Light, beloved.
Follow the Light through the dark world.
Then you will not get lost in the darkness.
You will be following the Light that leads to life.
Amen.



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: http://www.ancasterchurch.on.ca/sermons/oct1903.html

(c) Copyright 2003, Rev. George van Popta

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster


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