Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
When we come to the end of this text of John 8:12-30, we see the response of many of the people in verse 30: "As he was saying these things, many believed in him." This is good news. Because Jesus had said in verse 24, "Unless you believe that I am he [literally, that I am] you will die in your sins." So here we have a picture of people passing from death to life. They will not die in their sins. They will be forgiven Their sins will not be held against them. And when they die, they will go where Jesus has gone-to the Father- unlike the unrepentant, as Jesus says in verse 21, "Where I am going you cannot come." And so these believers, converted by grace through faith created by His Word, will live in everlasting light and joy.
That is the reason for CHRISTMAS. It is why Jesus came into the world. That is why he spoke these words in our text. And that is why I am preaching this message. I want the same thing to happen for you that happened for the people in verse 30- "As he was saying these things, many believed in him." Notice, it was Jesus' words that God used to bring about the faith. He wasn't doing miracles at this point. He was teaching. In fact, he was going back and forth with the Pharisees and the crowd- those who were blind to what he was saying. And as people listened to his words, they believed. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of GOD". (Romans 10:17).
I want that to happen here today! You may have come to church unsaved and yet in your sins, but there is potential for you to become believer at some point in this message! It is exactly what happened for those who heard Jesus preach that day in John 8. It can happen for you.
Hear the words of Jesus as we walk with him through this encounter with those who wanted to hear Him, and those who wanted to kill him FOCUS OF THE PASSAGE.
It might seem that Jesus becomes distracted by the antagonistic and sarcastic attitude of the Pharisees, for Jesus says in verse 12 with Jesus I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life." What a profound and pivotal metaphor, but seems to leave that statement unattended. In fact, he never mentions "the light of life again" in the whole chapter. Jesus often deals with an interruption or digression in a manner that illuminates his point and connects to his initial statements.
It's quite evident that the focus in these verses is that the life of the Lord Jesus and His teachings are true because of his relationship with God the Father. Seven times in this passage, Jesus states that He is from the Father, and speaks on the authority of the Father, and is going to the Father, and does nothing on his own. He claims that his authority is not of this world or of any human origin. It's owing to his relationship with God the Father.
Imagine the greatest human authority you can, and he is saying: I don't pretend to have that.
- What I claim is that I speak from God and for God and as God. I don't testify to any autonomous human greatness.
- What I claim-in all I say and do is that "I am." I am one with God, the great "I am" (Exodus 3:14). Verse 24: "Unless you believe that I am [the he is added in our English translation] you will die in your sins."
- Verse 28: "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [again, the he is added]."
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FATHER
So then we realize from these verses that Jesus and the Father hav relationship in Light! The way that Jesus is the light of the world is precisely by being one with the Father. Jesus is the light of the world because he is in The Father, and He speaks for The Father, sent from The Father, is going to The Father, and is one with the Father. So these words of interaction with the Jews look like a detour from "I am the light of the world," but in fact they are constantly pointing to the way he is the light of the world-by coming from the Father and going to the Father and being one with the Father.
James 1:17 THE FATHER
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
The appellation of Father is here used with peculiar propriety. It follows, he begat us. He is the Father of all light, material or spiritual, in the kingdom of grace and of glory. With whom is no variableness - No change in his understanding. Or shadow of turning - in his will. He infallibly discerns all good and evil; and invariably loves one, and hates the other. There is, in both the Greek words, a metaphor taken from the stars, particularly proper where the Father of lights is mentioned. Both are applicable to any celestial body, which has a daily vicissitude of day and night, and sometimes longer days, sometimes longer nights. In God is nothing of this kind. He is true light. If there is any such vicissitude, it is in ourselves, not in him. John Wesley
John 1:3-5 JESUS
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
John 8 12
"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am The Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.' "
Isaiah 9:2 BELIEVERS
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
2 Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.
If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.
The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory
(A Psalm of David.) The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
"A gain Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am The Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
What a life-changer that verse is! It says that following Jesus is more than tagging a casual acquaintance. It means following him for who He is, our light and our salvation! Discipleship is relationship with Him. In Christ! Christ in Us!
When We Follow Him, We Have Him! He has us!
You have Him as the light of life! "I am the light.. "You will have Me", he says, "as your light." I am your Shepherd and your Sacrifice and your Living Water and your Bread from Heaven, your God, and your Light.
Notice the last phrase of verse 12: "You will have the light of life." What is the connection between light and life? John 1:4 gives the answer: "In him was life, and the life was the light of men." The life gives the light. The life Jesus has, and the life he shares with those who follow him, gives them light. That is, we are dead and blind to the light until the life of Jesus is imparted to us by God's Spirit, and then we see. The eyes of our hearts are opened, and divine light streams into our living spirits. And thus we have the light of life. The light that comes from new, spiritual, eye-opening life-the life that gives sight to the blind soul, eternal life giving eternal sight.
The Light of the World
And what about the phrase "light of the world"? Verse 12: "Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the Light of the world." What does "of the world" mean? The whole world is not being lightened-at least not yet. In fact he says, "Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness." Which means that if we don't follow him, we do walk in darkness. And where is that darkness? It is in the world and in our hearts. So being "the light of the world" doesn't mean removing all darkness from the world as he walks through the world.
Here's what I think it means:
- Jesus being the light of the world means the world has no other light than Him. If there is going to be a light for the world, it will be Jesus. It's Jesus or darkness. No alternative. No other light.
- It means that the world, everyone in it, needs Jesus as their light.
- It means that the world was made for this light. This is not a foreign light. This is the light of the owner of the world. When this light comes, it not only makes sin plain as foreign and ugly, but it also makes everything good in the world shine with its full and true beauty. This world was made to be illumined by this light.
- And finally Jesus being "the light of the world" means that one day this world will be filled with this light as the waters cover the sea, and all darkness, and all the works of darkness, and all the sons of darkness will be cast out. That's why Jesus called hell "outer darkness" (Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). In that day, all will be light. Jesus, the Radiance of the Father, will fill the world, and everything will be beautiful with the light of Christ.
In many glorious ways, Jesus is the light of the world. If you follow him now, you will have him as your light in advance of that great day. True, he will reveal your sins, which is a precious gift - - - like the fortunate early diagnosis of a deadly cancer. But even more, he will reveal all that is beautiful. He will be the light in which you see God - like the light in which you see the history of redemption and the work of salvation.
He will be the light in which you see mountains and valleys and oceans and rivers and trees and animals and people. Nothing will be the ame again when you have him as your light. Everything looks different in the light of Christ. Yes, even earthquakes and tsunamis and suffering and death. Until His light fills the earth as the waters cover the sea until it and banishes sin and sickness, and pain and heartache to the outer darkness-until then, even now, his light will help you bear the sorrows of this present darkness. It will be a soft glow to comfort you in your lonely room after a devastating loss. It will be a lamp to your troubled path. It will reveal the wise and loving smile on the face of God behind every occasion of frowning providence.
Jesus' Offers Light to All
We read the words of Jesus in John 12:36, "While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light." When you accept Jesus as your precious light; when you follow him as your truth, your wisdom, your way and your beauty, you are "a son of light." You are begotten into God's family of light. And His light will never go out. In the moment of death, when the world thinks "all lights go out," you shine forever in the light of heaven.
So that's where Jesus starts in verse 12. He offers them and us all of that And what an offer it is! I pray you take it.
It's An Option-A Choice
Verse 13: "So the Pharisees said to him. You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true." Where did this come from? It came from John 5:31 where Jesus said, taking his words very strictly "If I bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true." The Pharisees pick up on this strict wording of what He said, and say, "See you are contradicting yourself and so your testimony is false, because you are bearing witness about yourself. You just said, 'I am the light of the world.'"
This response of the Pharisees ("You are bearing witness about yourself") sets up everything that happens in the next 17 verses of our text. The detour is defined by these words. And Jesus is willing to go on this detour. And he uses it to focus all attention on his relationship to the Father. Because that relationship is the key to seeing him as the light of the world, so that this turns out not to be a detour in the end.
Caught in a Contradiction?
Have they caught Jesus in a contradiction? He really did say in John 5:31, "If I bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true." (The English versions that add the word "alone" in verse 31-"If I alone bear witness about myself"- are interpreting, not translating.) But what did he mean in the context? He meant: If my testimony comes from myself, if it originates with me, if I am a witness to myself disconnected from the Father, I am false.
But the Pharisees didn't hear it in context. They heard it in isolation, and now they use it to divert attention from the tragic fact that when Jesus says, "I am the light of the world," they see no light.
A Picture of What's Happening
Here is a picture of what's happening. It is as though you heard me yesterday in a conversation with a British friend say, "I don't use the word torch." And then today I find you lost in a totally dark and dangerous tunnel. And I bring you a bright, burning torch that can show you the way out. And I say, "I have a torch for you. There's the way Follow it to freedom." And you look right past the torch and say, "I heard you say yesterday that you don't use the word torch. So your testimony that you have a torch is false."
What should I say in response to that? I could explain to you, "In Britain they call flashlights torches. I was saying yesterday that I don't use the word torch that way. You didn't understand the context. Here's a torch Take it. Get out of here while you can." But if you are like the Pharisee you would answer, "There's no torch here. You contradicted yourself." Seeing, They Did Not See
Now you should respond to this illustration by saying: "That's absurd The torch was right there in front of me. And I needed it to get out." That's right. And Jesus, the light of the world-the divine, self authenticating light of the world-was right there in front of them. And they said, "You contradicted yourself. There's no light burning here." The eyes of their hearts were blind. Seeing, they did not see. The light of Christ is not an inference from premises. It is the brightness of God shining on the retina of the human soul. You know it's there not because you conclude it from an argument, but because you see it with the eyes of your heart.
What It Means to Be "the Light of the World"
Jesus responds to the Pharisees in verse 14: "Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going." In other words, "I came from God. I am going to God. And you don't know God. And therefore you can't see me as the light of God Because the fact that I am from God is what it means for me to be the light of the world."
He goes on in verse 15: "You judge according to the flesh"-that is, you don't have spiritual life and so can't see the light. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. You need, like Nicodemus, to be born again (John 3:6-7). To have the light of life, you need life. But you are only flesh. Your spirit is dead.
He continues in verse 15: "I judge none"- that is, I judge no one on my own. I don't originate judgments. I echo my Father's judgments. He explains. Verses 16-18: "Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.
When His Hour Comes-And Not Before
Verse 19: "They said to him therefore, 'Where is your Father?' Jesus answered, 'You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also." In other words, Jesus says, "I and the Father are so united that if you knew and loved either of us, you would know and love the other,"
These are explosive and dangerous claims that he is making about himself and God. So John pauses to comment in verse 20 how amazing it is that no one is stoning him or arresting him: "These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him because his hour had not yet come." He will go when his hour comes, not before.
He Warns Them with Hell
Now he spells out one of the implications of their blindness. Verses 21-24: "So he said to them again, 'I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.' So the Jews said, 'Will he kill himself, since he says, "Where I am going you cannot come"?' He said to them, 'You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am...[he is added] you will die in your sins.!"
When Jesus says in verse 21 that he is going away, he means going to die and rise again and go to the Father. When he says they will "die in their sins" and that they cannot follow him where he goes, he means: When they die, they do not go to the Father. He is warning them, that if they persist in their blind rejection of him as the light of the world, they will perish away from God in hell forever.
But He Offers Hope
But he offers them hope-and he offers you hope. Verse 24: "Unless you believe that I am. . . [again, he is added] you will die in your sins." Believe, and you won't. "Believe that I am-that I am from the Father And that I and the Father are one. Open your eyes and see that I am the light of the world and receive me as your light. And you will not perish." Jesus keeps saying it over and over in this passage-that he is from the Father and that that he speaks what the Father speaks. But things come to a climax in verse 28 where he finally tells how it is that they will eventually come face to face with what they cannot see. Verse 28: "So Jesus said to them, 'When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [he is added]."
See and Believe
That doesn't mean that at the crucifixion of Jesus, they all became believers. It means that you yourselves unwittingly are going to help me finish being the light of the world. You are going to lift me up. You are going to crucify me. And when I am crucified, my role as the saving, redeeming, creation-filling light of the world will be secured. And I will rise and reign and shine forever. And the day will come when you will know this. You can know now and have your sins forgiven. Or you can be the ones who crucify me, and die in your sins, and find out the truth only later when it is too late.
And so it is with you and me: We see him and receive him as the light of the world now. Or we die in our sins and see it only when it is too late.
May God grant you to see and believe now!