“I Am the Light of the World”

Pt. 3 of the Series: “The ‘I am’ Sayings of Jesus.”

Palm Sunday, April 14, 2019

 

 

John 8:12

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

The Feast of Tabernacles

 

It was the Feast of Tabernacles also called the Feast of Booths, one of the 3 feasts that every Jew was required to attend in Jerusalem.  For 7 days the whole nation would camp out.  I would die.  Camping out, roughing it, for me is staying in a hotel that doesn’t fold your toilet paper in a little triangle.  They would stay in booths that were constructed out of branches and leaves to remind the people of Israel that for 40 years they camped out in the wilderness en route to the Promised Land.  But, it was the opening night of the feast that was spectacular.  A couple of giant menorahs were constructed in the temple courts in Jerusalem.   They were 75 feet tall, had huge bowls of oil holding ten gallons and the wicks were made of previously used robes of the priests.  The lights of these candelabra lit up the streets of Jerusalem.  Think Olympic torch.  The menorahs were to remind the people of Israel of the presence of God called the Shekinah that led them through the desert.  It led the people by a cloud by day and a fire by night.  In the desert, that Shekinah conveyed to the people that God was among them, that He was guiding them, that He was protecting them.  These giant menorahs, with lights gleaming, reminded the people of the Shekinah of God. 

 

So, it is thought that it was during this feast, during this reminder of God’s Shekinah, with the great lights of the menorahs, that Jesus stood up and spoke out, ““I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  The connection was obvious.  Jesus was saying, “I am the Shekinah that these menorahs symbolize.  I am the one who was with you then.  I was the one who guided you through the wilderness right into the Promised Land.  I was the one who protected you from Pharaoh and from all of the perils of the wilderness.  I was the one who enveloped the tabernacle.  I am the Shekinah glory.” 

 

I am the light of the world.”

 

He said, “I am the light of the world.”  We have been studying these “I am sayings of Jesus, 7 in all.”  Whenever Jesus said, “I am,” He was claiming divinity.  It was the name of God given to Moses in the burning bush.  It was the title so sacred that it was uttered only by the high priest and only on 1 day of the year, the Day of Atonement.  “I am” defines who God is.  He always is.  I am.  And Jesus is saying, “That is who I am.”

 

“I am the light of the world.”

 

Jesus was not saying that He was “a” light of the world or that He was “another” light of the world.  He was not saying that He was holding the light or that He has the light or that He knows the way to the light.  He is declaring that He, and He alone, is the light of the world.  Those of you who think that there are many ways to God, Jesus being only one of them, take note of what Jesus is saying here.  Jesus said,

 

“I am the light of the world.”

 

  1. The Light In Scripture

 

Right out of the box, we hear that as God formed the world it was dark.  And, with the simple word, “Let there be,” there was light.  Jesus was the light then, too, for in John’s Gospel, speaking about Jesus, he said; 

 

“Through him, (Jesus) all things were made... 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”  John 1:3, 5

 

Isaiah foretold the light;

 

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.  Isaiah 9:2

 

Old man Simeon took the Baby Jesus in his arms and declared,

 

For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.  Luke 2:30-32

 

And, the book of Revelation almost gushes;

 

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.  Revelation 21:23-24

 

I love the way one pastor put it;

 

In the beginning, Christ was part of the Godhead which said, Let there be light. He was in the burning bush which spoke to Moses and that pillar of fire which led Israel thru the wilderness. The Psalmist said, He is my light and my salvation. He was the light of the world, born at night to dispel darkness with His light. He was the bright light seen by disciples on a hillside at His transfiguration, and the light which blinded Saul the day he got saved. And He is the light of heaven, where there is no need of sun or moon. The Word of God is a lamp to our feet, and light to our path, and He is the Word, and I love the old hymn that says, "How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior, stepping in the light!"

 

Our world depicts Christianity as a leap of faith into the darkness, but the fact is, it's a step into the light! [1]

 

  1. Jesus is the light of the world.  How?

 

  1.  As the light of the world, Jesus is our constant presence

 

With the people of Israel, the Shekinah of God would come down and remind the people of Israel that God was with them.  They could see His presence.  It was a cloud by day and a light by night.  At no time during their wandering in the wilderness did God give the people an opportunity to forget that He was with them every step of the way.  And, as the light of the world, Jesus reminds us of His constant presence. 

 

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:20

 

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5

 

You might say, “But, I feel so alone.  People have let me down.  They have abandoned me.”  Jesus never will.  That is His promise.  “I am with you always.”  There is never a time in which He is not with you.  “But, nobody really knows how I am feeling about the doctor’s diagnosis.”  “Nobody knows how I am really feeling about the depression I have.”  Jesus does.  He became man so He does know.  “Nobody really knows the pressure I am under.”  “Nobody knows the temptations I have.”  Jesus knows.  He was tempted in every way but without sinning.  I like what Pastor John Hamby said.  He said that Jesus is only a prayer away.  Will you just let that word sink into your spirit, that no matter what you are going through, no matter how deep that valley of the shadow of death you are experiencing, let it sink in that Jesus is the light of your world.  He is there with you, as He was with the Israelites, assuring you of His presence.  

 

  1.  As the light of the world, Jesus is our guide

 

That’s one of the things light does.  Shine a flashlight on a dark path and it will guide your way.  The light at the end of the tunnel guides you through that dark tunnel.  For the people of Israel in the wilderness, this was new territory for them.  Traveling from Egypt to the Promised land, they had never come that way before.  They couldn’t recognize the landmarks.  In the wilderness, if you’ve seen one boulder you’ve seen them all.  And, horror of horrors, they didn’t have Mapquest or a GPS.  On top of that, heat produces mirages.  It distorts distances.  The cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night guided their way.  Simply put, when the cloud or light moved, the people moved.  If it went to the left, the people went to the left.  If it went to the right, the people went to the right.  Like I always say, in theology and politics, it is always good to go to the right. 


As the light of the world, Jesus is our guide.  People have always sought the answer to 3 questions: Who am I?  Why am I here? And Where am I going?  The world has no good answers to any of those questions.  The world says, “I’m no one special, I have no real purpose and I’m going nowhere.”  The world says that I am just the result of the process of evolution.  It says that I am no different than an animal and most of the time the people of the world act the part.  The world says that when I am dead, I am dead, that there is nothing more.  That’s the so called enlightened thinking of the world.  I don’t know about you but that is not very enlightening.  Surely it is not very encouraging.  That’s not light.  That’s darkness and people are sucked into this black hole, having no direction, not knowing where they are headed, their only guide being what will make me feel good.  That is the only light that the world has.  If it feels good, do it.  I have said this before; if there is no God, as the world insists, if there is no heaven, then the most logical life stance is hedonism.  Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you may die. 

 

The world is full of the darkness of sin.  The direction of this world, the values of our culture, the atrocious thinking of many of our politicians, those tasked to enact laws to enhance society, are tearing at the very roots of morality.  I find myself saying again and again that the world is a very dark place.  And, the crazy thing is, people love it that way.  This is what Jesus said;

 

“Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”  John 3:19

 

There is an old story of a desert nomad who awakened hungry in the middle of the night. He lit a candle and began eating dates from a bowl beside his bed. He took a bite from one end and saw a worm in it, so he threw it out of the tent. He bit into the second date, found another worm, and threw it away also. Reasoning that he wouldn’t have any dates left to eat if he continued, he blew out the candle and quickly ate all the dates. That seems to be the way of the world. [2]

 

Oh, but Jesus is the light of the world.  He is our guide.  Where the world has no good answers to life’s questions, Jesus does.  Jesus tells us that you are a special creation of God.  He tells us that you were made in the image of God.  How incredible is that.  You are not an animal.  You are made in God’s image.  You have a special purpose all laid out for you.  Jesus tells us that God has a special plan for each and every one of you and He has given you the special gifts to carry out that plan.  And, Jesus tells you that you have a place to go.  You have an eternal soul and through faith in Jesus you will live with Him for forever.  And, that light guides us into the truth.

 

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”  2 Corinthians 4:6 

 

Jesus is our guide.  Jesus shows us the way after all He is the way and the truth and the life.  If you want to know which way to go, seek Jesus.  If you have a major decision to make, look to the Light of the world as your guide.  If you want to know the path to an abundant life, let Jesus, the light of the world be your guide.  God’s way is always the best way.  There is no better place to be than in the center of God’s will.  Our slogan here at Risen Christ is, “Seeing marriages and families thrive with Jesus in the center.”  As the light of the world, Jesus is our guide.  And,

 

  1.  As the light of the world, Jesus is our protection

 

Not long after the people of Israel left Egypt, Pharaoh changed his mind about letting his slave labor force of millions leave.  He sent his army after them.  The Israelites had come to the Red Sea.  In front of them was water, water everywhere.  Behind them was the Egyptian army.  They were trapped.  What did the Shekinah, do?  The cloud came between the people of Israel and the Egyptian army.  It protected the people until they crossed the Red Sea.  Jesus was saying, “Do you remember the cloud that came between your fathers and the Egyptians?  Jesus is saying, “That was me!”  Jesus is saying that the protection that He offered them, He is offering you!

 

Listen now; there is nothing than can touch you in this life that doesn’t first pass through the hands of Jesus.  [3]  Not to bring up a sore subject but tomorrow is tax day.  Whoopi!  Are you fearful of your finances?  Are you fearful of an overbearing boss?  Are you fearful that you are not doing well enough in your job, fearful of losing it?  Are you fearful of the results of that medical test?  As the light of the world, Jesus is your protection.  He has you covered when any of these things come down upon you.  But, even if these things don’t pan out as you wish, Jesus the light of the world has the ultimate protection plan all ready for you.  He has eternity waiting.  When you see any of these concerns from an eternal perspective, you find that His light protects. 

Jesus said,

 

“I am the light of the world.”

 

Jesus is not just the light of the people of Israel.  He is not just the light of Christians, although only Christians can see Him as the light.  Jesus is the light, the only light, of all nations.  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” and then He says to every Christian, “You are the light of the world.”  That’s what you are.  You are a light like the moon is a light, shining forth the light of the sun.  You shine the light of Jesus on a world that is so, so dark, in order that all the world can be brought to that light.  That is your task.  That is your commission.

 

One more thing

 

At the end of this week is Good Friday.  In a couple of minutes, we will retell the story of that day.  It is a day of deep darkness.  That darkness began with Judas betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  The machinations of the evil one, that prince of darkness, really got started then.  The darkness continued in the Garden of Gethsemane with the soldiers arresting Jesus and bringing Him to the high priest Annas and then Caiaphas.  The darkness got darker as the religious leaders trumped up charges and paraded false witnesses to support that darkness—false witnesses that could not even be in agreement with each other.  Then, on to Pilate for the darkness to continue.  Another sham trial, ending with Pilate attempting to wash his hands of the affair.  The scourging comes next and the crown of thorns.  The mock honor the soldiers gave Him just heightened the darkness.  Then, the nails pounded into supple flesh.  The Romans had done their dark duty.  The Pharisees looked on in smugness.  The one thief berated Jesus while the other—a sign of a little light—pleaded to be remembered by Jesus.  Then darkness.  From noon until three, darkness covered the land.  The darkness of sin chased even the sunshine away.  Throughout this entire ordeal, Satan laughed with glee.  His will was being accomplished.  Or, so he thought.  Then, the absolute darkness of when the Father turned His back on His only begotten Son and Jesus, taking on the darkness of the sins of the world, cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”  It was as if all was lost.  It was as if darkness had won.

 

Although Satan was already making his victory lap, all of this actually played into the Father’s hand.  From the beginning, this was what Jesus was to do.  Isaiah centuries before said it;

 

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”  Isaiah 53:4-5

 

In the midst of the darkness a light still shone.  It was the light of forgiveness.  It was the light of eternity.  There on the cross, the light shone.  And, with that first light of Easter, that light shone strong, that light that is the light of life, that light that is victory, total victory, victory over that prince of darkness, victory over sin, and victory over death itself.  That light is Jesus.  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”  And, He said, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  Jesus is the light of the world and as you follow Him, that is yours.  That is yours. 

 

In Jesus’ name.

Amen      

 

 

[1] From the sermon, “Jesus: Light of the World,” by Jerry Shirley, found at Sermoncentral.com.

[2] From the sermon, “The Light of Life,” by Dennis Davidson found at sermoncentral.com.

[3] From the sermon, “Jesus is the Light of the World,” by John Hamby found at sermoncentral.com.