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Author:Rev. Reuben Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Mt. Nasura
 Mt. Nasura, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/mountnasura/
 
Title:I am the Light of the World
Text:John 8:12 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God The Son
 
Preached:2021
Added:2021-07-11
Updated:2021-07-11
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 67:1,2                                                                                            

Ps 112:1,2                                                                                                      

Reading – John 8:1-12; John 12:35-50

Ps 18:1,4,9

Sermon – John 8:12

Hy 19:1,4

Ps 27:1,2

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved in Christ, say you’re out in the bush somewhere at nighttime. All around it’s very dark, just the murkiness of midnight, and you’re a bit scared. You’re glad you have your flashlight, and glad the moon is shining. And when you come to a hill, and you look out over the treetops, you’re even gladder when you see a light in the distance. A house. Or a cluster of lights, and you know it’s a small village. Because where there’s light, there’s life.   

We love light, because darkness is never far away. Right now it’s bright and sunny, but before long the sun will start descending toward the horizon again. And when the sun disappears, night-time and darkness begin.

Darkness is near, also when you’re at home. Your kitchen or bedroom might be lit up with lamps and downlights, but flick the switch, and you’re in the dark. Where the light is taken away, shadows and gloom invade.

That sounds a lot like our life as Christians. For we’re living between two worlds, always on the threshold between darkness and light. We’re pulled by good, and pushed by evil. There is the way of the Holy Spirit within us, and the way of our sinful flesh. Scripture calls it the battle between the kingdom of darkness and of light. And it’s a struggle that we experience each day.

But here’s a life-changing truth: we know the light! We don’t just have access to a good light supply, like holding onto a flashlight with sufficient batteries. We don’t just have the light, we know the light! We’re connected to it, for the light has come to us, in Christ who said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). I preach God’s Word to you on this theme,

            I am the Light of the World:

                        1) behold Christ’s shining light

                        2) avoid the danger of darkness

                        3) walk in the light of life

 

1) beholding Christ’s shining light: If you will live, you need light. This is an elementary truth, and it is seen in God’s creation in so many ways. As an example, think of how plants need light. Say someone gives you a new houseplant, and you do your best to keep it alive. You water it, give it plant food—you even talk to it—but you forget one thing: you don’t put it where it can absorb any sunlight. It goes into a dark corner of your house, where it soon begins to look sickly and then to wilt and turn yellow. It needs light.

Plants need light, and people do too. So the Scriptures often connect light with life. There is Job 33:20. There it says that God will “bring back [a man’s] soul from the Pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.” To be lit with God’s light is to live! Even in the beginning, Genesis 1 tells us that light was the first gift of creation, when God said, “Let there be light” (1:3). Without this first gift, nothing else would have meaning.

Because light is so central to life, Scripture speaks of how God is light. We love the words of Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” When everything around you is dark, when you feel you’re without hope, God shines in his perfect glory. The LORD is surrounded by never-failing light, and He shares this light with his people.

So too, when we’re confused and we don’t know where to turn. Then God lights our darkened way with his brilliant Word. Says Psalm 119: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (v 105). The LORD is our light: life-giving, life-directing, and life-sustaining.

That brings us to how John speaks about Jesus in his Gospel. If we turn back to John 1, we read this about the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. John says: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (1:4). By his coming into this world as the Saviour sent from God, Jesus was ‘the light of men.’ He brought an all-powerful light, for by his coming, Jesus carried true light into our darkness.

For by his light, we begin to see things as they really are. Jesus has shown the truth to all of mankind: the truth about who we are as depraved and hopeless sinners, the truth about God in his awesome justice and mercy, and the truth about how we can be accepted by God again. By his light we see these things clearly.

He came as “the light of the world.” Now, probably before anything else, we should understand that last phrase. We tend to view the world as hostile toward us. We think about it along the lines of the Catechism, when it speaks about our three sworn enemies: the devil, our own sinful flesh, and the world. So then, what does it mean that Jesus is a light to the world?

In the Bible, ‘world’ describes a few different realities. First, there is the world that is God’s creation. This is the world that God made, the world of oak trees and raindrops and salmon, about which God said, “It is very good.” So has Jesus come as a light for this world—has He come to shine on the environment, to light up physical things, illumine this planet? Creation needs restoring, and one day it will be, but Christ’s light shines in a different way. 

Another sense of the ‘world’ is indeed that so many people are hostile toward God and his church. Think of 1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” This is the world that conspires against God and is always pressuring us to do evil. Jesus has not come to shine his saving light on this enemy.

A third sense of ‘world’ in the Bible is humanity in general, all the people on earth. It’s the countless tribes and nations and peoples of mankind. This is the world God made, and among whom God has chosen many for himself.

Think of John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It’s a sinful and rebellious world, but God is rich in mercy toward the lost. The LORD has love for all those who will believe in his Son and receive forgiveness of their sins through him. Into this world, among these sinners, ‘the light of the world’ is going to shine.

God’s people have been waiting for centuries for the dawn of this redemption. Back in Isaiah’s time, the prophet announced the coming Christ. Listen to what God said about his chosen servant. He said that the Messiah will be a beacon of hope for the nations, a light to all people. God said: “It is too small a thing that you should be my Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be my salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isa 49:6). Christ came as a light to the Gentiles, the Saviour who shines God’s favour onto all people.

And let’s just appreciate how Jesus’s words in our text are actually a bold claim that He is equal with God. He is the same as the LORD in Psalm 27, of whom the Psalmist said: “The LORD is my light.” Now Jesus says, “I am the light.” The shining light of God’s glory is reflected in the person of Christ.

Back in John 6, Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.” This powerful statement gave the people a lot to chew on, especially because they’d just seen Jesus multiply the loaves and fish in order to feed several thousand people. The lesson that day was that the ‘true bread from heaven’ is not manna, and you shouldn’t count on miraculous loaves to save you. You won’t be filled by anything found here on earth. The only true and life-sustaining food for our souls is Jesus Christ, ‘the bread of life.’ On that day, it was a lesson that everyone could picture and remember.

Jesus’s words about ‘the light of the world’ was something else that everyone could visualize. For since John 7 and into John 8, Jesus has been teaching at the Feast of Tabernacles. This was a feast which commemorated Israel’s journey through the wilderness. In 7:37, we read that it was the last and greatest day of the feast. And on the evening of that final day, Jewish tradition said that something special would happen at the temple.

According to custom, on that night there would be a special ceremony of candle-lighting. At the end of the feast, in one of the courts of the temple, the people would light four large candlesticks and let them burn throughout the night. Because the sun had gone down, and there was no other lighting, these candles would illumine the temple courts and would be visible from some distance. God’s light was shining!

Like the rest of the Feast of Tabernacles, lighting these candles was a way to remember Israel’s journey. It pointed to how God had always lit their way through the desert with a pillar of fire. With his light, God had guided them, year by year, faithfully shining on them in his mercy. The light showed that God was near, reminded them that they could rely on his leading.

In our text, we said, Jesus is speaking on the last day of the feast—or perhaps once the feast has ended. And with everyone thinking about those glowing candles, He declares that He is the light! He is the radiance of God, ever present with his people. The candles at the temple might have gone out for another year, but Jesus’s light continues to shine always. His glory endures, for He will lead his people out of their darkness and into his marvelous light.

 

2) avoiding the danger of darkness: Earlier we said that where light is, the darkness is never far away. For instance, it was into the darkness that God spoke in the beginning and He called forth light. And when those candles in the temple finally burned out, darkness fell.

It is the same for our life in Christ. If Jesus is the light of the world, then you will have the light for as long as you follow him. You will have the light for as long as you are near to him. But if you have a habit of forgetting Christ, or if you are mostly indifferent to Christ, or you continue to disobey his words, then you are walking in the darkness. It’s the darkness of sin, futility and confusion.

Jesus says more about this later in John. For instance, in chapter 12 Jesus says, “Walk while you have the light, lest the darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going” (12:35). When the light is shining, people can see the way. But without light, we’re likely to trip and stumble. The person who goes ahead without the lamp of God’s Word or without the light of Christ, such a person is in the dark and without guidance.

We’ve seen that in Scripture, the word ‘light’ stands for life. It stands for God’s glory and God’s truth. On the other hand, ‘darkness’ is an image for those who do not know the Lord. ‘Darkness’ signifies sin in its cruel dominion and power. “The people walking in darkness” are lost; they have been given over to the devil’s cruel reign. And let’s remember that Satan himself is called ‘the prince of darkness.’ So this is what John says in his first letter, “He who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:11).

Do we know about this darkness? Have we ever been blinded, like John says? I think most of us have always known the gospel. We’ve had the blessing of being raised in the covenant, and being members of Christ’s church. In a sense, there are not many of us who have ever been strangers to God’s light.

Yet the darkness is ever-present. Satan’s gloom is always encroaching. He has never left God’s people alone. And though we know that it’s an empty life, one that brings only sorrow, part of us still wants it. By nature, we prefer the darkness. Light exposes our sin, reveals our weakness, but the darkness conceals it. So it sometimes feels safer there. 

But the Light of the World calls us to avoid the darkness. In Romans 13, He says, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light” (v 12). Stay out of the dark. Don’t hide in the shadows. Don’t let the blackness into your life.

Beloved, our life will never thrive if we stay in the dark. Think of that houseplant in the dark corner of your home—in the darkness, we will only shrivel and die. Only in the light do we flourish! So don’t live far from Christ, in a place and situation where his light can’t reach you. Don’t turn off the shining lantern of God’s Word, but let it light your path every day. ‘Cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light.’

Even as we struggle every day with sin, the good news is that the darkness cannot ever overcome the light. Think of Jesus’s life, how when He came to earth, many tried to get rid of him. His enemies tried to extinguish the light of the world, but they simply could not. On the third day, He rose again in all the shining light of the resurrection.

So this is what John said at the beginning of his Gospel, after introducing Jesus as ‘the light of men.’ John says, “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (1:5). God’s light has an amazing power to overcome darkness. Even a little light can disperse the shadows and is able to show us the way.

We’ve probably all experienced the power of light. I had it once when I was staying at someone’s house. Coming home late one night, I found that the electricity was off because of a windstorm. Walking through a strange house in the pitch blackness was totally disorienting. Where were the doors, the furniture? I slowly bumped and stumbled my way upstairs to where my phone was, and then flicked on its light. Even with that small beam of light, everything changed. At once, confusion disappeared. The darkness was still there, but now I could see.

When we believe in Christ, the Light of the World, He delivers us from the darkness. The darkness is still there, and it’s still deadly, but it cannot overcome the light of the Lord. Think of how God began his creation with those powerful words, “Let there be light.” In the same way, God begins his work of re-creation by shining his light into our hearts through the gospel: “Let there be light.” Through Christ, we come alive and we start to walk in the light.

 

3) walking in the light: If you know that Christ is ‘the light of the world,’ you need to walk with him. This is what Jesus says in the latter part of our text, “He who follows me shall not walk in the darkness, but have the light of life” (8:12). “Walking in the darkness”—yes, like stumbling through an unfamiliar house during a power outage, or groping your way through the bush at night. Walking in the dark is often foolish, and it can even be dangerous.

You don’t need to walk in the darkness, says Christ, but you can walk in the light of life. In Scripture, ‘walking’ is a metaphor for our conduct. What’s your walk of life? How are you traveling? As you keep walking, says Christ, ‘follow me.’

Think again about how the Israelites followed the pillar of fire through the wilderness. Wherever the light led them, they went. When the pillar of fire stopped, the Israelites stopped. When it moved ahead, they followed. We don’t have that pillar of fire any longer, but we do have the Light of the World. We have God’s light in Christ, and we must follow him.

Listen again to what Jesus says in John 12:36, “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” Believing in Christ transforms you into a son of light, a daughter of light. When we’re plugged into him by faith, Christ doesn’t just give us access to light, but He makes us light! It becomes our new identity in him.

This is like what Paul says in Ephesians 5:8, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” If Christ has awoken you from your sleep, if He has brought you out of darkness, then you have to act like it. If you have seen the light of Christ, then his command rings out: “Walk as children of the light.”

What does this walking look like? Notice what happens just before our text, as Jesus interacts with a women who was caught in adultery. Her shame had been publicly exposed, and her guilt meant that she was liable to be stoned to death. But Jesus showed grace. He brought his saving light into her life. And then see what else He does: He tells her to stay in the light: “Go, and sin no more.” Don’t go back to the darkness, but remain in the light.

Beloved, if we’re going to walk in the light, it means that Christ’s light will more and more shine into our lives. For there might be things that we’ve long kept hidden from God. Perhaps there are sins that we haven’t confessed, and we have persisted in them for too long. Perhaps there are regrets that we haven’t brought to God in prayer, and we’ve never sought his grace for them. Or there are deep fears that we haven’t admitted, but covered them over in darkness. But we need to let Christ’s light shine onto all these things. His light is a healing light, and life-restoring, and joy-giving.

Let the light of Christ permeate every corner, and come into every secret place. Leave the darkness, and go and sin no more. Repent from sin, and let your every thought and word and action be transformed by Christ!

This is God’s will for us. For the same Jesus who said, ‘I am the light of the world,’ said something else. He said it in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” If Christ is light, then we are light.

Like a small light shining in a dark room, our good deeds will stand out in this wicked world. People listen to our words; they see our deeds; they notice what we place importance on. Though it will always be imperfect, people ought to see the light of our lives—they will see our reflection of the glory of Christ!

As it says in Philippians 2: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God, without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe, as you hold out the word of life” (vv 14-16). If Christ has given us his light, and He has made us sons and daughters of light, then may we ever shine!  Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Reuben Bredenhof

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