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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Melville
 Melville, Australia
 www.frcsr.com/fellowship/melville/
 
Title:The Light of the world promises life to those who follow Him
Text:John 8:12 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2018-09-16
Added:2021-12-12
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Bible Translation: ESV

Book of Praise: 2014

Psalm Ps 27:1,2

Psalm 56:5

Psalm 43:3,4,5

Psalm 89:6

Hymn 22:1,2

 

Read:  John 7:37 – 8:20.

Text:  John 8:12

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Brothers and sisters in Christ.

The most pressing question that we need an answer to, is this:  Who is Jesus? 

Who is Jesus?  Who do you believe that He is?  Why did He come into this world?  And what did He achieve?

Many people have their opinions as to who Jesus is, but if we really want to know the truth, a good place to start is by learning what Jesus himself said about who he really is.  And in the gospel according to John, the Lord Jesus gave a number of descriptions to teach us who He is.  “I am the bread of life”, Jesus said in John 6.  And, “I am the door”, John 10; “I am the good shepherd”, John 10; “I am the resurrection and the life”, John 11, “I am the way, the truth and the life”, John 14, and “I am the true vine”, John 15.  And in John 8 the Lord Jesus said this:

“I am the light of the world.”

But what does Jesus mean by these descriptions of Himself?  How do these “I AM sayings”, as they care called, teach us about who Jesus really is?  And what happens when we believe who He really is, and when we follow Him?  Today we will find an answer to this question by turning to what our Lord Jesus said concerning Himself in John 8:12.

“I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

I preach God’s Word concerning Jesus, the light of the world, under the following heading:

The Light of the world promises life to those who follow Him.

  1. The claim.
  2. The call.
  3. The promise.

1. The claim.

It was a bold claim that the Lord Jesus made to the people of Jerusalem as He sat, teaching them in the Temple.

“I am the light of the world.”

It was a bold claim because of what this light represented, and it was a bold claim because of where and when Jesus said these words.

First of all, it was a bold claim because of what this light represented.

There was a time when there was no light in the world, when all was dark, when all was black.  The Bible begins in Genesis 1:1,2 by saying,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.”

But then God spoke.  And the first words He said were these:

“Let there be light.”

And there was light.  And the light was good.

It was a physical light that was created, a light by which one can see.  It was a physical light, a light that enables life to flourish.  A light that enables one to see, to see things clearly, to see things for what they really are.  And so when the Lord Jesus calls Himself the Light of the World, He means that He is the One through whom we see, He is the One who makes all things clear to us.

But that’s not all there is to understand when the Lord Jesus calls Himself “The Light of the world".  We need to understand that when Jesus calls Himself “the Light”, He is using a term that the Bible reserves for God Himself.  Psalm 27:1, for example.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”

Psalm 36:9,

“For with you [that is, with God] is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”

And in Psalm 104:1,2 the Psalm writer praises God saying,

“O LORD my God, you are very great!  You are clothed with splendour and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment.”

The New Testament also speaks of God in terms of light.  1 John 1:5,

 “This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

Further, in the New Testament James 1:17 calls God “the Father of lights” and 1 Timothy 6:16 says that He “dwells in unapproachable light.”

So when the Lord Jesus sat in the Temple and said to the people who had gathered there that “I am the Light of the world”, He was clearly making a bold claim here:  He was making a claim that only God could make!  No wonder, therefore, that the Jews who heard Him objected.  Who is this Jesus that He dares to call Himself the light of the world?

And then there is more.  Because not only does the Bible call God “the Father of lights” and “my light and my salvation” but it also speaks of God sending one to come who would be a light.  Isaiah 9:2,

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, upon them has light shined.”

And Malachi 4:2,

“But for you who fear my name the Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings.”  (NKJV)

And concerning that light that was to come into the world, the Bible says that He was to be a light not just for Jerusalem, not just for Judea or for nation of Israel, but He was to be a light for the whole world.  Isaiah 49:6,

“he says, ‘It is too light a thing that You should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will also make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end ends of the earth.”

And now, in His declaration that “I am the light of the world” what the Lord Jesus is saying is that He is that light, He is that One of whom the Scriptures speak.  He is the One who was to come to give light to those who sit in darkness.  He was the Christ, the promised Messiah.  And with that comes the implication: believe in Him and walk in the light or reject Him and remain in darkness.

And so the gospel according to John expresses no doubt as to who Jesus is, and the apostle uses the Lord Jesus’ own words to declare again and again that He truly is the Christ, the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world.  He was the One of whom the prophets spoke, He was the One who was to come.

But there is more to be said about Jesus’ claim to be the light of the world.  For not only was it a bold claim because of what this light represented, but it was a bold claim because of where and when Jesus said these words.

John chapter 8 emphasises where it was that Jesus declared Himself to be the light of the world, and that was in the temple.  You can read this in John 8:2 where it says,

“Early in the morning he came again to the temple.  All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.”

And again, in John 8:20,

“These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; and no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.”

So it was in the temple that Jesus spoke these words, and from John 7 we learn that the time when Jesus said these words was at a feast, the Feast of Tabernacles.  The Feast of Tabernacles was an 8 day feast to celebrate God’s care for His people during the wilderness wanderings and how He brought them into the Promised Land of Canaan.  During the feast the people would camp out in booths or tent-like structures made of palm branches.  They would also participate in different ceremonies to remember the time Israel spent in the Wilderness and to celebrate God’s care over them.  One of those ceremonies had to do with water, but another one of those ceremonies had to do with light.  Towards the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, four enormous golden lampstands 50 cubits, that is about 22 metres, high would be set up in the temple court.  Bowls would be on top of the lamp stands, which would be filled with oil, and the wicks for the lamps would be made from the linen garments that the priests had worn the year before.  When these lamps were lit, it was said that they were so bright that there wasn’t a courtyard in all of Jerusalem that was not lit up with the light.  In this way the people would be reminded of the light of God’s presence and how He was present with His people in the wilderness in the cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night.  And it was this that was going on or had just happened when Jesus spoke to the people and said,

“I am the light of the world.”

And His claim was unmistakable.  Since the light at the Feast of Tabernacles represented the light of the LORD Himself, the One who went before His people in the Wilderness as a pillar of fire by night, what Jesus was saying is this: 

In Me, Jesus, the LORD God, Yahweh, whose glory once lit up the skies over Israel’s tents and the tabernacle in the wilderness, has returned to His people!  In Me you have Immanuel, God-With-Us.  For I, Jesus, am the LORD.  Yes, “I AM WHO I AM.” 

  That’s the strength of this “I AM” statement of the LORD Jesus.  Pointing back to the Covenant name of the LORD, Yahweh, the One who revealed Himself in Exodus 3 as the great “I AM”, Jesus takes these words, “I AM” and He applies them to Himself!  He and the LORD God of the Covenant are one.

  The claim is breath taking!  In declaring Himself to be the light of the world the Lord Jesus makes no secret of who He is.  Not only is He the Great Prophet, not only is He the Messiah, the Saviour who was to come, but He Himself is the God of the covenant!  That was His claim.

And it is a bold claim.  A claim that many of the Jews struggled to accept.  If the Lord Jesus had only kept His mouth shut, so many more would have followed Him!  For many were asking who He was.  Many would accept Him as a great man, a good man, a prophet.  But to accept Him as the light of the world?  To accept Him as the great I AM WHO I AM?  To receive Him as God?  That was too much.

But what about you?  How do you receive the Lord Jesus?  What do you make of His claim?  There are many people still today who are content to speak of Jesus Christ as “the greatest man who ever lived” or as “the great example” to be followed.  There are many to take His words to love your neighbour as yourself, seeing them as “a good way to live”.  But that’s not enough!  Rather, we need to do something with the One who calls Himself “the light of the world”.  We need to receive Him for who He is, we need to believe in Him.  And we need to follow Him.  We will see this further in our second point.

 

2. The Call.

As we read from John 7 and 8, you would have noticed that it includes the story of a woman caught in adultery.  Although our Bible translation points out that the earliest copies of the gospel according to John do not include this story here, we have good reason to believe that this portion of Scripture is the true Word of God and of apostolic origin.  Further, it is by God’s providence that we find it here in John 8.  And it actually fits very well here, because it demonstrates what the Lord Jesus was talking about when He described Himself as the Light of the World. 

  When the Lord Jesus was speaking to the Jewish leaders, they were not searching for the Light.  Rather, they believed that they were good and righteous, but judged others as being filled with sin.  And when they brought the woman caught in adultery to the Lord Jesus, they wanted Him to judge her and condemn her, whereas they themselves believed that they had no need to be judged.  But in fact, they too were in darkness – and they were blind to their own condition. And that’s why, when they brought the woman to Jesus, that the Lord told them,

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  (John 8:7)

When the Lord said this, the people were convicted because not one of them was without sin.  All of them, including the woman caught in adultery, were caught in the darkness of sin.  They were all as guilty as the other, they were all still trapped in the darkness, and they all needed – they desperately needed – the light of life.

But would they accept this light?  John 1:5 says,

“The light  (that is Christ) shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

And John 3:19,

“And this is judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

It was from this darkness that Christ, the light of the world, came to save us.  This darkness, that engulfed both the Scribes and the Pharisees as well as the woman caught in adultery.  This darkness that engulfs everyone who does not live in the light that is Christ.

And that’s why when the Lord Jesus declared Himself to be the light of the world, He did not leave things there.  Because if Jesus is the light of the world, then for us to live in the light and not in darkness, we need to follow Him.  John 8:12 -

“He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness.”

That word “follows” is an important one.  It means that you cannot simply hear about the Lord Jesus and move on.  It means that you cannot profess to believe in Jesus but not obey Him.  It means that you cannot hear about the light but then live as if the light had never come.

  When the Lord calls us to follow Him, it means that we are to believe in Him.  That’s clear from John 12:46.

“I have come into the world as a light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”

But to believe in Him is not simply something that you are to say.  To believe in Him is something you are to do.  To believe in Him is to live in Him.  To believe Him is to follow Him.  To believe Him is to be His disciple.  And that also means that to believe Him is to obey Him.  When Jesus spoke to the woman caught in adultery, He not only said “Neither do I condemn you” but He also said,

“Go, and from now on sin no more.”  (John 8:11)

And that applies to us also.  The Light changes us!  When we believe the One who is the light of the world, when we receive Him, when we follow Him, then we will walk out of darkness and into the light!  And that’s a totally new way to live.

But are you doing that?  Do you follow Jesus?  Are you ready to leave all things behind, to turn your back on the darkness and to walk with Him in the light?  You cannot say that you are a Christian, you cannot say you believe in Him if you do not follow Him.  For there are two ways to live: the way of death and of darkness, or the way of life and of light in Jesus Christ.

But how are you living?  The woman caught in adultery had not been living in the light.  She would have been incredibly shamed to be dragged, in public, before Jesus, to have her sins exposed.  But the Scribes and Pharisees were no better.  They too lived in their sin.  But what about you?

If you are a new Christian, if you have not been following Christ for very long, Christ’s command to follow Him can be a challenging one.  In some ways you will be thrilled to turn your back on the darkness and walk in the light that is Christ.  But then there are other things, other decisions, life choices to make, that are not so easy to leave behind.  And soon you discover that the temptation to fall back into the darkness still remains.

   But this is not just a problem for new Christians: it’s just as much a problem, if not more, for those of us who consider ourselves to have been Christians, followers of Christ, for all our lives.  Yes, what about you who have been a Christian, who have been here in church for most or all of your life?  Do you really follow Jesus?  Do you join Him in the light?  Sadly there are many who say they believe in Christ, who might even pray to Him, read the Bible and come to church, many who might even cast their eyes in judgment upon everybody else, but who, like the people of Jerusalem in Jesus’ days on earth, do not truly follow Him.  Who live not in the light but in the darkness.  Whose hearts have not been changed.  Who have the same wants, the same desires and even do the same things, living the same way, as their unbelieving neighbour.

But what about you?  What will you do with this Jesus, the One who declares Himself to be the light of the world?  Do you follow Him?  “The light shines in the darkness” John 1:5 says, but the world does not comprehend it.  The world does not receive Him.  The world does not follow Him.

But do you follow Him?

What a joy it is when we do follow Him, when we truly believe in Him, when we do receive Him for Who He is.  “He who follows Me”, Jesus says, “shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  We will see this further in our third point.

 

3. The Promise.

When Christ declared Himself to be the light of the world, He gave a promise to all those who received Him as the Light, to all those who followed Him.  And in fact, it is not just one promise, but two.  For “He who follows Me”, Jesus said, will not only have “the light of life”, but he “shall not walk in darkness”!  There is gospel in these words, beloved!  There is good news, a joy and delight in the promise that we who follow Christ shall no longer walk in darkness!  Can you imagine what it would have been like for that woman, caught in adultery, when learned who it really was who said to her,

“Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more”?  (John 8:11)

Can you imagine what it is like for all those who feel trapped and imprisoned by the darkness?  Slaves to their addictions, slaves to sin.  Slaves to emptiness and trapped until now in a meaningless, rudder-less existence?  Do you see how beautiful these words are for you?  “If you believe in Me”, Jesus says, “If you follow Me, you will no longer walk in darkness.  The darkness will be gone for the Sun of righteousness will have dawned in your life with healing in its wings!

Do you see how beautiful that is?  Believe in Jesus, follow Him, and it will be as if day has dawned.  It will be as though the darkness has lifted and you find yourself in the noon-day sun.  That’s the promise for all those who follow Jesus.  To receive Christ as the light of the world and to follow Him is not just a blessing for the life that is to come but it is a blessing, it is a joy for the life that is now!  To walk in the light of life is not just a future event, something to enjoy when we see our Lord face to face.  But to leave the darkness behind and to follow Him is God’s promise that begins already now.

And so I ask you:  Do you have that light?  Have you left the darkness behind to walk in the light that is Christ?

 “How do I know?”  you might ask.  How do I know if I truly have received Him as the Light of life?  Well if you are living in the Light that is Christ, then you will have seen the light.  Then everything will be changed.  You will see things like you did not see them before.  For as the Light of life, the Light that is Christ, shines in your heart then you will see your heart – your old heart, that heart of stone – as it really is.  And then seeing that you would well understand Isaiah when he exclaimed in Isaiah 6, upon seeing the glory of the LORD,

“Woe is me, for I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips!” 

And you would be saying your Amen along with Peter who said in Luke 5:8, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”  And you would understand why Paul, that seemingly good and upright man, would write in 1 Timothy 1:15,

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

But then you would also confess the truth of John 1:12,13 –

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

And then you will live in the Light.  Then you will hate your sin more and more and look to Jesus, the One who came to take away that sin.  Then you will be freed from your sin.  Then you will turn from the way of darkness and then you will enjoy that second part of Christ’s promise in John 8:12, then you will walk in the light of life.

And you will walk in that light already now.  You will follow Christ, you will live for Him and you will rejoice in Him.  And then your life will have meaning.  And then you will have a future.  Yes, you will have a grand future to look forward to.  For then you will never be cast into the outer darkness but in Christ you will be received into the bosom of God the Father, living before His face, living in the light of His glory.

And then one day the darkness will be chased away all together.  One day there will be nothing but light.  Concerning the New Jerusalem Revelation 21:23-24 says,

“the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.  By its light will the nations walk.” 

That’s the promise, that is the future for all those who follow Christ and receive Him as the light of the world.  Brothers and sisters, will you be there with me to walk in that light?

Amen. 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2018, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

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