Today we are in the third part of a four part sermon entitled, “A Light has Dawned.” This tile comes from Matthew 4:12-17, the text that is behind me. Today's title, however is , “I Am the Light of the World.” Before we get started with today's message, I would like to briefly review.
Two weeks ago started our sermon series by examining the darkness we see referred to in Matthew 4. This darkness is the rebellious, broken world that lies in the hands of Satan. A world that exists in the shadow of death. The reason this world is dark is because of one thing, sin. What is sin? It is the rejection of God’s authority in your life. This sin began in the garden of Eden where Adam and Eve rejected God and instead chose to live there life independent of him. This is called the fall. Because of the fall, all humanity is born into darkness. This is all we know. This is why the world is the way it is. This is why 140 kids were slaughtered in Pakistan on Tuesday, and why racial tension has existed sense the tower of Babel. This is why we have divorces. This is why we have a meth problem. Because we chose to live independent of God, separated from His light. To put it simply, we love the darkness.
Last week, we saw that God, because He is loving, provided a glimmer of hope to Adam and Eve in the midst of his punishment. Specifically, the seed of Eve that God speaks of in Genesis 3, would bruise, crush, gape the head of the serpent, otherwise known as the devil. As we saw last week this was the first explicit prophecy of the suffering Savior, Jesus Christ. And from that point on, God continued to reveal to the world, through His chosen people, Israel, the solution to the darkness being Jesus Christ alone. For 4000 years God would repeatedly provide little glimmers of Hope for His chosen people. As the day of Jesus' birth came closer and closer the light started to shine brighter and brighter, just like the Sun when it approaches the horizon. This testimony of the light of the world continued all the way up to John the Baptist.
- John 1:8 - “ He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.”
From that point on the light of Christ was no longer a distant glimmer of hope, but Christ had broken dawn and the darkened world would never be the same. With that I ask you to turn to John 8:12-30. We will spend the rest of our morning in this passage.
- John 8:12-24– “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." 13 So the Pharisees said to him, "You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true." 14 Jesus answered, "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. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 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. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me."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." 20 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.21 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." 22 So the Jews said, "Will he kill himself, since he says, 'Where I am going, you cannot come'?" 23 He said to them, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins."
Jesus Is the Light
The events of John 8 took place during what is called the Feast of the Booths. This was one of the bigger celebrations of the Jews, for this feast celebrated the 40 years that God led the Israelites through the Wilderness after they were delivered from the Egyptians. This celebration was one of the three celebrations each year that every Jewish male was required to attend. Not only that, but each time when the Jewish males presented themselves to the Lord at the temple, they were expected to bring an offering.
- Deuteronomy 16:16 – “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.”
- John 8:20 – “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.”
And it is in this environment that Jesus stands up and says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." This is actually the second statement that Jesus made along these lines during the feast. Earlier in John 7:37, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” Now we see Jesus stand up amongst the mob of people and says, “"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
Think about what is going on here. This carpenter's son from the Podunk town of Nazareth stands up on one of the holiest nights in Jerusalem and says He is the Light of the world. Jesus is saying that He is the solution to the darkness, not a solution, but the exclusive solution.
It was CS Lewis who famously argued that no one could be logically neutral concerning Jesus. Lewis was commonly frustrated by people who said that Jesus was a good teacher, or great leader, or had charisma, but they would not accept that He was the Son of God. Lewis said that Jesus had to be one of three things: A Liar, and Lunatic, or the Lord. What does Lewis mean by this?
In John 8, Jesus is not dancing around the bush. He is making a substantial and self centered, claim about himself. Jesus is proclaiming to the masses that He alone is the solution to the darkness. This is not just some moral teacher, or some charismatic leader. Either Jesus is lying, that and therefore he is not the light of the World; He is delusional, which is what we would say today if someone stood up and claimed this, or he is in fact who He says He is, the Light of the World. Logically, those are the only options.
The Pharisees, picked door number two, liar. Verse 13, “So the Pharisees said to him, "You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true." They are saying, you are lying. You are not the Light of the World. So the Pharisees were at least logical in their understanding of who Jesus is.
The question, I pose to each one of you today, is who do you say that Jesus is? Is He a liar, is He a lunatic, or is He your Lord. You have to pick one of the three, Jesus spoke in such a way that you cannot sit the fence. This question is the most important question you will every answer. Your eternity hangs on it.
You Must Follow the Light to Have the Light
Let’s assume that you have decided that Jesus is Lord. Intellectually you understand that Jesus is not a liar and know He was not crazy, so in your mind you have determined that He is in fact the Light of the World. Does this mean you have the light of life? Does your intellectual acceptance of Jesus as Lord mean you are in the clear? I want to read to you two verses.
- James 2:19 – “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder! “
- Matthew 8:29 - “And behold, they cried out, "What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?“
Earlier I mentioned that Jesus said these words during the Feast of the Booths. According to Josephus, a Jewish historian, during the Feast of the Booths they would light giant lamps in the Court of the Women. These blazing lamps were representations of the pillar of fire that lead Israel by night through the 40 years they wandered in the wilderness.
- Exodus 13:21 - “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.“
It was while these giant lamps were blazing and shouting up into dark sky that Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” Jesus is saying that He is the pillar of fire that leads us out of our slavery to sin and into the Promise land of God’s Forever Kingdom. So if having the Light means following the Light, what does it mean to follow Jesus? Let me read to you the Words of Jesus regarding what it looks like to follow Christ.
- Matthew 4:19-22 – “And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
- Matthew 16:24 – “Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
- Matthew 19:21 – “Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."”
- Luke 9:57-62 – “ As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."58 And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." 59 To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." 60 And Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61 Yet another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home." 62 Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
- John 21:18-19 - “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go."19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, "Follow me."
This is the difference between the belief of Satan and the belief of a saint. Satan believes and continues to rebel. Saints believe and follow Christ. The question is, what belief do you have? This, I believe is the issue of today. We have millions of people who claim to have the light of Christ in their heart, yet continue to live their life independent of God. There lives look no different than unbelievers. They have “faith” but no evidence of following Jesus.
- James 2:17 - “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead “
Lastly, what if you chose not to follow Jesus? What if instead of laying everything down at his feet you instead, continue to live like the rest of the world? Jesus tells us very clearly in Luke 14:33
- Luke 14:33 - “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.“
- John 8:24 - “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins."
So today, I want you to hear the cry of Christ, “"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." And I want you to let go of everything and grab hold of Jesus Christ. Follow him out of the darkness and into the eternal promise land.