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Who Is Jesus? #2: The Light of the World!

Sermon Notes (Sunday August 16th, 2015)

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

 

Who Is Jesus? #2: The Light of the World!

Exodus 13:20-21; John 8:12-20

 

As a boy, the Scottish novelist and poet, Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was intrigued by the work of the old lamplighter who went about with a ladder and a torch, setting the street lights ablaze for the night. One evening in Edinburgh, Scotland, as young Robert stood watching with childish fascination, his parents heard him exclaim, “Look, look! There is a man out there punching holes in the darkness!” With one statement of childish wonder, Robert Louis Stevenson summed up the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus came into this world and accomplished many great and miraculous wonders, yet His primary purpose was to punch great gaping holes in the spiritual darkness that shrouded this world. He came to be “The Light of the World.”

 

Last Sunday we started a new series that focuses on the question: Who is Jesus? John’s gospel contains seven great statements of Jesus that begin with the statement “I am.” In these statements Jesus uses various metaphors to describe His person, His character, and His mission. Seven times in the gospel of John, Jesus declares: I am the Bread of Life (John 6:35, 48); I am the Light of the World (8:12, 9:5); I am the Gate for the Sheep (10:7); I am the Good Shepherd (10:11); I am the Resurrection and the Life (11:25); I am the Way, the Truth and the Life (14:6); and I am the True Vine (15:1). Who is Jesus? This is the most important question in life. Last Sunday we studies the first claim, “I am the Bread of Life.”

 

In John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” This is the second of seven great “I Am”. This is quite a powerful statement, rich with all sorts of symbolism and meaning. This second claim challenges each Christian to ask whether the Master’s light illuminates his or her life. Before I share a couple thoughts based on John 8:12-20, let me very briefly give you the background of Jesus’ second “I am” statement.

 

The Context of the Second “I am” Statement

The gospel of John gives us both the location and the occasion of this second statement. In John 8:20 we read, “He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple.” The temple of Jesus’ day was Herod’s temple—an extravagant complex that was said to shine so brilliantly in the sun that it could be seen miles away from Jerusalem. The treasury of the temple was a Jews-designated area, so Jesus is speaking to the Jews who have come into the temple to worship.

But the location of Jesus’ teaching isn’t all that John tells us. Back in John 7:2, John tells us “Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near.” We see from John 7 that Jesus said these words during the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. You may recall that this feast was celebrated by the Jews to remember God’s care for them during their 40 years of wanderings through the Sinai Desert after leaving Egypt. They celebrated this feast once a year. Each night of the celebration, after the sun went down, two great lamps were lit in the courts of the Temple. These lamps would cast their light over every part of the city of Jerusalem. Not a single quarter in the city escaped their light. These great lamps were meant to recall the pillar (or column) of cloud and the column of fire that had accompanied the Israelites during their 40-year wanderings in the wilderness. God dwelt in the cloud and fire. They appeared when Israel left Egypt and guided them through the Red Sea and every day of those 40 years. It gave them shade by day; and light and warmth at night. When Jesus said to the Jews, “I am the light of the world,” He was making a claim to be the same God who was in the cloud and fire. Those who heard Jesus speak that day in the Treasury of the Temple would have thought immediately of the pillar of fire and cloud that led Israel during their passage through the wilderness after leaving Egypt. Jesus claims divinity. He claims to be God’s equal. He claims to be part of the eternal Godhead. In Him, the presence of God, the protection of God, and the guidance of God came to full fulfillment. A couple observations for this morning:

 

First: The World Walks in Darkness

“I am the light of the world.” Jesus said this in a rather dark time of Israel’s history. The Romans occupy Israel. An army of occupation was encamped in Jerusalem. God’s people were oppressed and persecuted in their own land. Roman symbols and gods were seen all over the place. Taxes were forcibly collected for a heathen emperor many miles away. Yes, it was a dark and dismal time. In the midst of Israel’s darkness and despair, Jesus announces that God’s new and glorious age has dawned.

 

Friends, as we look around us today, we see how our world walks in darkness. We continue to push Jesus to the curb more and more everyday. Less people do care about God and the things of God in our society everyday. To “walk in darkness” means to live for, to regulate one’s life according, to conduct one’s life by, the darkness. In other words, the world wants nothing to do with the light. In John 1:5 John says, “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” In John 3:19 the Bible says, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”

 

Second: Jesus is Our Light

“I am the light of the world.” Jesus declares He is the light that shines in the darkness. You and I need this light as we face life, as we face choices, as we face difficult situations. Many times it seems that a heavy fog of indecision, confusion, and uncertainty surrounds us. Our minds are darkened and we need the Light. As the years go by we remember foolish choices and wrong decisions. If only we had the Light. Discovering our direction, discerning God’s will, and making our decisions ~ all begin with living and walking in His light. Jesus does for us what light does to the darkness: He illumines, and guides.

 

In Christ’s light we see God as He is. Indeed God makes Himself known in the world He has created, in the commands He has given, but most importantly, in Jesus – because when we look at Jesus, we are looking at God – His love, His mercy, His goodness. In fact, without Jesus it is impossible to know God. We might know something about God, but that doesn’t mean we know Him. But as we put our trust in Jesus, we begin to understand what God is really like. Listen to these great words from John 1:18, “No one has ever seen God, but the One and only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known.”

 

In Christ’s light we also see ourselves as we are. Look in the mirror in the dark, what can you see? Not much. Look in the mirror in the daytime, in the light, what can you see? Everything. You will get to see hair that needs brushing or combing, make-up that needs applying or a face that needs shaving. When Jesus shines into our lives, we begin to realize how messed up we really are. But we also realize that He loves us and has the power to change us, too. In Christ’s light, we see God as He is, we see ourselves as we are, and we see life as it is.

 

Friends, God’s will is that we live in the Light, in Christ, and not darkness. God’s will is that we do the deeds of Light and not the deeds of darkness; the things that Christ has called us to do and to accomplish in life. God’s will is that we live as daytime people. “Lord, the Light of Your love is shining, in the midst of the darkness shining, Jesus, Light of the World, shine upon us, set us free by the truth You now bring us, shine on me. Shine on me.” May these words become our prayers this morning. In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen!

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