December 1st, 2019 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)
[Jhn 8:12-20 ESV] 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.” 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.
Introduction: Advent Light
I. I AM the Light of the World
A. The 2nd I AM statement
B. The Darkness of the world
C. Meaning of Light
II.Continuities with the Pericope de Adultera
A. The light
B. The meeting place
C. The witnesses
Conclusion: The Light of the World is Jesus
INTRODUCTION – Advent Light
I had the option this week of continuing to preach through John’s Gospel as I have been doing for some months, or to preach an Advent sermon, as this Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent. Fortunately, I did not need to make a difficult decision since the very passage we now come to in John’s Gospel is in fact a passage commonly preached at Advent.
Advent, with its candles, is a season of light. And the light of the world is Jesus.
Advent is also a season of waiting. Waiting for the coming messiah; his birth being celebrated at Christmas.
While we wait merely a few weeks, the people of Israel waited for many centuries for the messiah. In much darkness they awaited the light. John the Baptist bore witness to this light, but he himself was not the light. The true light who gives light to every man coming into the world became flesh and dwelt among us. The light of the world is Jesus.
In the darkness of the approaching winter season we wait expectantly to celebrate the coming in to the world of the light of the world. The light of the world is Jesus.
He declares so himself in our text today.
This is the first (and main) point of the sermon. The Light of the World is Jesus.
I. I AM the Light of the World.
As we start out passage today, we read it said that
“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.’” [REPEAT: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”]
I’ve had two situations in my house recently in which I’ve found myself in darkness. Perhaps similar things happen to you. The first was at the top of my stairs coming up from the basement. There is a light-switch there which turns on (and off) the lights in the basement. Well, I’m always trying to accomplish things in the most orderly way, and so I think to myself as I pass the light-switch that it is an opportune time to turn the basement lights off. Only after flipping the switch did I realize that in the darkness I could not find the knob to the door at the top of the stairs. So I had to turn the switch back on.
A similar situation occurred to me in our main level bathroom where there is a light-switch poorly located on the opposite of the room from the main entry door. One evening, I turned off the switch only to find myself in the darkness. Well, this time there was a slight difference. My 1-year old daughter was in the room and also enveloped in the darkness. And after I turned off the switch I thought that she would probably be quite scared to be in the dark. But the door was cracked open and she started heading that way. And I said “That’s right, seek the light, seek the light.”
Darkness is really a bad place to be. In the physical world darkness keeps us from seeing where we are going. In the dark I am concerned that I could walk forehead-first into the end of a door. In the spiritual world darkness also keeps us from seeing where we are going.
Jesus, the light of the world says,
“Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
In Christ, we can see where we are going. We are to follow him. In doing so, we do not any longer walk in darkness, but have the light of life.
A. The Second I AM Statement
This statement – “I am the light of the world” is the 2nd of the 7 great I AM statements in John’s Gospel. Like all of the I AM statements, here Jesus declares his divinity. He is the great I AM, Yahweh himself. He says emphatically “I AM the light of the world.” Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου
B. The Darkness of the World
The light of Jesus contrasts of course with the darkness of sin in the world.
Proverbs 4:19 tells us “The way of the wicked is like darkness, they do not know over what they stumble.”
I scarcely need to comment the darkness of the world, for we all know it far too well. In many respects the world’s morality follows a descending spiral. What once was shocking – swearing on television, for example – is now commonplace. To attract attention, and make money, movies continue to push the envelope until they have pushed beyond anything resembling common decency, if, that is, there were a common decency. Decency is far too uncommon. There are now even advertisements for the most personal of medical products. If any boundary exists it is difficult to tell.
The masses of people live in darkness and do know know the Father; they do know God.
For us, Advent now is a waiting for the messiah with the hopeful expectation of light through breaking through the darkness.
Into the darkness Jesus came. And he came, not to judge, but to save His people. To bring them life and to bring them light.
While Jesus IS himself the light, he also gives light to His people.
But what is light? What is it that Jesus gives us?
C. The Meaning of Light
The light is knowledge
The light is holiness
The light is joy.
Jesus, the light of the world, brings us all these things. Knowledge, holiness, and joy.
William Hendriksen explains “To the ignorant he proclaims wisdom; to the impure, holiness, to those in sadness, gladness. To those who are drawn to the light he not only proclaims but actually imparts these blessings.”
Jesus invited all to come to him saying “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” But, not all will follow. Many are called, but few are chosen. To those who are chosen of God, the light illuminates the ignorance the mind, sanctifies the unholy soul, and brightens the melancholy countenance.
We are greatly blessed when we bask in the light of the messiah.
II. Continuities with the Pericope de Adultera
In our passage today we find a number of continuities with that passage on which I preached last week, the Pericope de Adultera – the passage on the woman accused of adultery. The continuities or chain of connection between that passage and this one help to prove the authenticity of the Pericope and help us to understand our current passage all the more.
There are 3 continuities I want to look at. 3 continuities between the last passage and the present passage. They are (1) the light, (2) the meeting place, and (3) the witnesses.
A. The light
The context of our passage is that of the Feast of Tabernacles. And there was at the feast a great candelabra lighting ceremony. And this might sufficiently explain why Jesus now says of himself “I AM the light of the world.” While the candelabra gave outward illumination, Jesus brings inward illumination. He enlightens the mind, sanctifies the man, and gladdens the heart. Jesus is saying that he is the true light that the ceremony at the Feast of Tabernacles can only symbolize.
But the scene of the woman caught in adultery is itself a scene of darkness. Her situation itself is an example of depravity. And the Pharisees show themselves to be even darker in their bringing of the woman to Jesus in attempt to trap him. And so to this situation it may also be that Jesus now declares himself to be the light of the world. He said to the woman “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” It is only by the light of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit that a person can go down a sanctifying path.
The woman in adultery was living in darkness, but has seen a great light.
B. The meeting place
Now also, the meeting place where Jesus is talking to the Pharisees shows continuity between this passage and the Pericope. It is said “these words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple.”
This treasury was called so because it was where certain boxes were where one could donate money. The treasury is the place that is as far as women were allowed to go into the temple. They are allowed to go no further. Perhaps the Pharisees would bring the woman charged with adultery only this far. So this hints at a continuity between the passage, and therefore evidences the authenticity of the Pericope.
C. The witnesses
Then, and the strongest evidence of continuity and authenticity is the discussion between Jesus and the Pharisees about “witnesses.”
There were no witnesses to condemn the woman accused of adultery. Now, the Jews contend that the words of Jesus are empty because he lacks witnesses. Two or more witnesses are needed to establish the truth of anything. And Jesus explains to the Jews that there are indeed two witnesses: himself, and the Father who sent him. And thus his words are true.
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.”
Jesus’ words are true. And what are these words in this present case?
He said, “I am the light of the world of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” These are true words. The Pharisees certainly don’t want to hear them though!
But Jesus has born witness and the Father who sent him bears witness.
How does the Father bear witness about Jesus?
Primarily, it is through the fulfillment of the prophecies of Scriptures.
There are many prophecies of Scripture that Jesus fulfilled. But to have consistency with our theme — The Light of the World is Jesus — I’ll note the fulfillment of Isaiah 42:6-7
[Isa 42:6-7 ESV] 6 “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
Jesus is the light for the nations. The light to the gentiles. While God blessed the Jews in the times of the Old Testament that they might know Him, only through Jesus Christ did the nations come to a knowledge of the Lord of the Universe.
Following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, his message went out to the world. Not just to the Jews, but to all nations. He was a light to the nations. The darkness of foreign gods and their idols were thrown to the trash heaps and the light of Christ shown through. The Gospel transformed the nations, it transformed the world, and it transforms us.
In Christ we no longer stumble in darkness, but have the light. The words of God are now a light to our path, and we do not walk in darkness but have the light of life. The eternal life graciously given to us by our loving God and Savior Jesus Christ.
The two witnesses — Jesus and the Father — prove that he is the light of the world.
And Jesus is a light that never goes out. In all of your times of trouble, seek the Lord. Look to the promises of the Gospel. Shun the darkness. Seek Jesus, the light of the world, for it is he who truthfully said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Before we sing our next hymn, I want to look a bit at the words of it. So many of our hymns have great meaningful words. #476, “The Light of the World is Jesus” is based on John 8:12, one of the verses of our passage today.
The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin.
Like sunshine at noonday his glory shone in.
No darkness have we who in Jesus abide
We walk in the light when we follow our Guide
Ye dwellers in darkness with sin blinded eyes
Go wash at his bidding and light will arise
No need of the sunlight in heaven, we’re told
Jesus, the Lamb is the light in the City of Gold.
Amen, let us sing this hymn together.