The Light of the World (John 8:12)May 21, 2023 | Kyle Bjerga
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Well, good morning. Sounds like everybody was able to turn to John eight. So I trust you are there. Kids, I want to talk to the elementary kids because you guys are in the service with us. Today, preschool is going to join us a little later for our baptisms. But you know, on a family worship Sunday, which is today, I normally have you guys come up and we sit right about here, we do a little Kids’ Corner. So you guys can get to kind of hear a little bit about the message that morning. And usually I use some object lessons and stuff. Well, guess what? Everybody’s in Kids’ Corner today. Because you guys are gonna stay with your parents the entire time. What’s great about this is you get to just be up here with us and see what we do in the service on a Sunday morning. So you’re gonna have to open the Bibles with your parents, we’re gonna get to look on, you can even whisper some little questions that you have throughout, you have a little bulletin, you have a coloring page. So I hope you are engaging with everything that I’m saying this morning that you understand it, and you understand it. And in a deeper way, in a way that’s very clear, because we will be using some of these things up here. This isn’t typical parents for a Sunday morning that we have all this stuff up here. But we are going to have a shorter time together in God’s word because we’re gonna be celebrating a lot of baptisms today. And so I want to be very focused on John 812. So that you can also have these conversations with your kids as you go home today. So kids throughout, I will kind of get your attention to maybe look up here and see. And if your parents need some help, you can kind of poke them a little bit. And they can look up here as well when we get to those different parts. But let’s get started. So I want to start off with something a little humorous, because the kids are here for our youth group of students. So years ago, when I first started in youth ministry, I had a segment that I would do at the beginning called I survived youth ministry. And so some of you are giggling because you understand what that means. So when I was a student, or a volunteer leader, and then a youth pastor, I have lots of stories of things that happened. The types of things you said, How did my youth pastor not get arrested? Because that didn’t seem very safe. At the time, it looked like a good idea. Until we’ve been in the hospital multiple times. With students, maybe it was the question of how in the world do we actually turn out? Okay. After you hear some of the stories that I tell, but one of my favorites was we were on a Fall Retreat, and we were up in northern Wisconsin, and it was dark. And we do night games. And we do a night game called Mission Impossible. So think Capture the Flag late at night, some of you have played this with us. Not only was a dark, it was very cloudy, as well. And so it was really dark. And I remember, I was a volunteer leader this time, and I was hiding kind of where the woods met the campgrounds. And we told the students don’t go into the woods. Because it’s very dark. We didn’t want anybody to get hurt. So I was kind of right there on the edge. And one student decided not to listen. And there’s always one. You probably could have guessed actually, in our youth group who this person was, because not only was he the one that wouldn’t listen, he was also super competitive. And so I hear something behind me because I hear the scrunch of leaves. And so I hear like just some footsteps, then I hear this, like, he starts to jog a little bit. And then it’s getting faster, faster, faster, until he runs right into a shed. That was in this little clearing in the woods, where we told them not to be. And so I’m sitting there and I mean, I’m just like it was fast, fast, fast. He’s in a dead sprint until I hear that sound. And then I hear oh. And then I didn’t hear anything else. So of course, it’s very dark. And you know, kids, if your parents ever said, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt”? Well, he got hurt, and his game was over that evening. Now what was his problem? His problem wasn’t the game. It wasn’t the shed. It wasn’t playing with his friends. It was darkness. Darkness was his issue. Because if he played in the light, that game would have been very different for him, he would have been able to avoid the shed. And when we think about our own life, a lot of us don’t like thedark, kids. Maybe this is you. You don’t really like to be in the dark. So we have a little nightlight. And even for a lot of adults. There’s something about night, there’s something about darkness that we don’t like and it’s a physical problem. It’s something that we don’t enjoy just in life in general, but it’s a much deeper problem. Because we live in spiritual darkness from the time we are born. spiritual darkness that means that when we go through our life, we try to figure things out on our own. We try and figure out what the truth is we try and figure out which way we’re supposed to go. And we do this in darkness. Because spiritual darkness is living without God. That’s what spiritual darkness is living our lives without God and that is our problem. It is our prompt for every single one of us. The question today is where can we find the spiritual light that we need? To live in this dark world, where can we find that spiritual light that we need? And we’re going to answer that by looking at Jesus’s I am statement in John, chapter A’s. We’re in our second week of the series called I am Jesus, in his own words, and we’re going to listen to Jesus. And you can see in the notes there, it’s very simple. We’re gonna look at the context this morning because we need to understand when and where is Jesus saying, this statement. And then we’re gonna look at the claim that Jesus actually makes what does he say? And then finally, we’re gonna look at the call, why does this matter? What does Jesus say to us? So let’s start by looking at the context. There you see it right in the first part of verse 12. It says, When Jesus spoke again, to the people, he spoke again, which means this is actually connecting us back to chapter seven of John, which we didn’t look at last week, we’re in chapter six. So what’s happened in chapter seven years, Jesus is at the Feast of Tabernacles. And the Feast of Tabernacles was this yearly celebration that the Jews had, where they came together to remember God’s provision, God’s presence, and God’s protection of them, when they were in the wilderness, once God saved them from slavery, brought them out of Egypt. And when they got out, they were supposed to follow God to the promised land. And if you know the story, well, you know, they disobey, they didn’t want to go into the land, because they were scared of the people. And so God said, therefore, you will not enter the land, at least that generation. And so 40 years there in the desert, living in temporary homes, sometimes called booths, or Tabernacles. And so kids, how many of you guys have made forts, right? forts are fun, forts are a lot of fun, you’d like to make an inside, maybe outside, maybe you want to spend the night in your, in your fort in your house, or maybe it’s outside, and it’s great. And it’s fun until it rains until the wind comes. And obviously, like, I wish I had something more permanent. Well, the people eventually get in the Promised Land, and they do have permanent homes, but God wants them to remember something. He wants them to remember this time for 40 years, and they lived in temporary homes, and he was the one that gave them everything they needed to survive. And so that’s what the Feast of Tabernacles was to remind the people of this, you’ll see on the screen, Leviticus 23, this is what it says there to do. Live in temporary shelters for seven days, all native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters. So your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt, I am the Lord your God. And so this is what they would do as a family. And they would make these temporary shelters. And remember, this is our God, this is what God has done, he saved us. And then something happened during the celebration, they would actually so up here I’ve got this little like fire, not real, don’t worry. And it’s not very big. So it’s a kind of sad representation, but representation anyways, of this giant pillar that they would have, they would have four big pillars in the temple. And what they would do is they would light these pillars. And so there’s massive fire. So they’re saying like 70 feet high. So everybody could see the light from these four pillars as it was going. And there was a purpose to this. Because God led his people through the desert, by what? A cloud and a pillar of fire. Look at Exodus 13. By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night, neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. So what did God do? He led his people, his glory, His presence, and I am with you. And He led them through saying, this is where you’re supposed to go. And what was the role of the people to follow, right to follow him to follow wherever this pillar of fire went? And so they’d like these massive pillars of fire, everybody would be able to see it, and they were called to rejoice. They were called to rejoice. And it’s with this background at the Feast of Tabernacles. Towards the end with these pillars lit that Jesus gets before the people and says, I am the light of the world. i In the light of the world, this is his claim. All right, so we’re going to be continuing with this is his claim. And it’s a massive claim. One that all the people around especially the Pharisees at the time would have known what Jesus was saying, and they were going to take issue with it as well. But that’s what we see in the first part of verse 12. I am the light of the world. So what is Jesus saying here? Because light is a rich metaphor in the Bible, all sorts of different directions. We can take this but if I could just simplify it. Jesus is just saying, the only way you make sense of the world is by me.
The only way you can look at things and make sense of them is if you look at them through me through who I am and what I’m doing what I came to accomplish, if you want to know where to go, if you want wisdom, if you want truth, if you want hope it is through me, you must look at me, I am the light of the world. CS Lewis says it this way, a famous quote, many of you probably have heard before he says, “I believe in Christianity is I believe that the son has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else. When we see the son, Jesus Christ, we see everything else we say, oh, okay, I understand that now. And it’s a growing understanding, of course. But we see things differently when we see by the light of Jesus. Now, a statement like this, I’m the light of the world sounds like something God would say. That’s exactly right, because that’s what Jesus is claiming. Brandon told us that last week, as we started this series, that Jesus is taking the name of God, when Moses says, Who should I say has sent me he says, I am who I am, I m has sent you. And so Jesus is saying, I am I in the light of the world. If we were to walk through the Bible, we would learn a lot about light. And so we’re not going to walk through every single chapter. But I do want to walk through a few different sections of Scripture for us to kind of see what this idea of light means. So starting on page, one of the Bible, we have creation, and what is over the surface of the Earth, darkness, darkness is there, and God speaks and says, Let there be light. And there was light. God is the one who brought light into this world. And with it, he brought life. So John, who’s writing the gospel that we’re in, in chapter one actually uses a lot of the same language from Genesis one in his book, in his account of Jesus’s life. And he says this because he knows Jesus is the one sent by God. He says, “He was with God, in the beginning. through him, all things were made. Without him, nothing was made that has been made in Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” So what’s John saying, Jesus was there, Jesus is the Creator. Now, why does John choose to say this is the beginning of his gospel? Because he’s here, when Jesus is saying these words, he’s remembered back, oh, Jesus claimed to be the light of the world. So therefore, I have to go back and understand what is light and I have to see that he’s connecting himself back to the very beginning. He knows he was there, he created it. So he can say, I am the light of the world. What about wisdom literature? Where you heard Brandon read it for us this morning, Psalm 27. What does David say? He says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” And so the Israelite people know that God is light and Jesus says, I am the light of the world. What about the prophets? Well, if we look at Isaiah, there are a lot of Messianic prophecies that Isaiah has in that book, and chapters 42, and 49, we’re gonna look at two verses. This one chapter 42, says, the people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned. And in chapter 49, I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth. As they say, and this is a person, this is someone who is coming, this person is bringing light, this person is bringing salvation. And now Jesus is on the scene, starting his ministry, and in John chapter six, through eighth, he continues to connect himself to the Israelites history to their past, to what we read in the Old Testament today. And he’s saying he’s connecting himself to what happened in the Exodus when theywere brought out of Egypt, into the wanderings, and then into finally that promised land. So listen to this in chapter six, we looked at this last week, Jesus was connecting himself to the manna that was sent down by God from heaven for the people and he said, I am the true and better bread. I am the bread of life. I am the one that truly satisfies. And chapter seven, we didn’t look at chapter seven last week, we’re not really looking at it much this week. But two verses that I want to draw our attention to, to again show his connection to what the Israelites experienced. Chapter 7:37-38 says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Do you remember this story? Water from Iraq? That’s what he’s referring back to saying like I am that water that will never run out and that will always satisfy. And so they’re making these connections, the manna, and the water, these things kept us alive. And now he’s the light of the world, connecting himself to the pillar of fire that led the people to the Promised Land, leading them out of spiritual darkness, leaving them out of slavery to sin, into salvation, the promised land. And for us, that is glory, that is eternal life, that is where he is leading us to. So I’m the light of the world is just saying I’m a long and awaited Messiah, God in the flesh, He came to bring salvation, and salvation to this dark world. You notice how Jesus says He is the light of the world. Not one light, among many. He is the light of the world, only one person can make these I Am statements. And that’s Jesus and Jesus alone. In our lives, if you talk to people, if you read things, you know, everyone, everyone is looking for light somewhere. Everyone’s looking for something to show them, what is their purpose? What is truth? What is the direction I should go? And the world of darkness wants to tell us that all you need to do is find that light inside of yourself. It’s there, you just got to look for it. And kids, teens, adults, whoever you are this morning, that is a lie. That is foolish. To look inside ourselves for light, we cannot look inside what’s dark. And we know honestly that we are dark. We know that we know the things that we do in secret that nobody else sees. So we think we know what we think and say about other people, what we think about them when they’re not around. We know the selfishness with which we make decisions. We know these things are true about us because we wouldn’t be embarrassed if anybody ever got into our hearts. And that is not light. You cannot find the light inside yourself. If we think the answer is inside, we’re going to start walking, then we’re going to jog and we’re going to sprint until eventually, we hit a shed. And we will, we will. And the crazy thing is for many of us, we’ll get right back up and say maybe there’s a different way. And we’ll look for anything and everything that sounds good at the time will keep running and we just keep doing this over and over again. Because we’re looking in the wrong place. There’s only one who is the Light of the world, only one that can make sense of what’s happening. Are we going to submit to Him and follow Him. In a little while right over there. In the baptismal, we’re gonna celebrate three people who are going to be baptized. And if you listen to their stories, if you listen to their testimonies, you’re going to hear a theme. The theme is that at one point, we tried to do everything on our own. Until we realized we can’t do it. Like these things, promised these certain things to us, and they came up empty. And so instead, they followed now the light of the world moving from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of light. And if you were here this morning, you don’t have that light. And you know, you don’t have it, but you want it. I would encourage you to listen to these stories. Hear how God has worked in each life, to bring them to this point. And that’s a story for a lot of us here. And it could be your story today. Stories of people who have decided to follow the light chosen to follow Jesus and do exactly what he says in the second half of verse 12. Let’s look at that third section. The call is what Jesus says. Whoever follows me, will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. So pastor Warren Weirsbee says it this way says to follow the Lord Jesus means to believe in Him to trust him. And the results are life and the light for the believer. So you see light and life in Genesis one in John one. And for our lives today go together, light and life. Let me illustrate this with a story. Maybe many of you are familiar with astronaut Jim Lovell. If you know the Apollo 13 mission or the movie that was inspired by that, he was an astronaut. Before that, he was a Navy pilot in 1953. He was flying a kind of training mission over the Pacific Ocean. He was trying to get back to his aircraft carrier. And on his way, all of his instruments went out. So he didn’t really know where he was going. And then he lost radio contact with the aircraft carrier. So he turns everything off and he realizes that, you know, reality sets in and if I don’t find it soon, I’m going to have to go into the sea and is there any hope for survival at that point? And it was in the blackness of that night of water, right? The sea is dark, the sky is dark. He cannot see anything except for a little glimmer below. And he tries to focus in and what he discovers is what you’re gonna see here on the screen. He sees bioluminescent algae, this algae that glows. And when it’s really dark, you can see it. And you can see it even better when there’s a ship that’s churning it up. And so he sees it. And he’s like, “Wow, I’m gonna follow that.” So he goes after and he continues to follow the algae and it gets brighter and brighter and brighter until it brings him right to the aircraft carrier that was churning up all these algae and leading him home, leading him home, saving his life. He landed safely on that ship, the light saved his life. It guided him back to where he needed to go. And that’s what God does for us. When we say I’m going to follow you, right? I’m going to follow you. And as we follow what we think the Israelites following the pillar of fire, not always knowing where they’re going. What’s happening, it’s been 10 years, it’s been 20 years, it’s been 30 years, where are we going, we’re gonna keep following the pillar of fire. And for us, we don’t know how long the journey will be, till eternal life. Like we know it starts now. But when is that day, when we’re in glory, we see Jesus face to face, we don’t know, we don’t know which way he’s gonna take us. But we follow Him. Because we know where he’s going. And if you want to make sense of sin, and the brokenness we see all around us and suffering and pain and relationships, and how things are supposed to work, we must follow him. It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy. It doesn’t mean that we all understand everything all at once. It’s like that light that level saw, it got brighter and brighter. The longer we live with Jesus, the more we’re able to say, oh, okay, I see that now. And so I’m gonna follow you still? Because I see what you did I understand what was going on there. I understand this, how you called me to live. We know God continues to teach us. He is going to faithfully lead us. Are we going to faithfully follow? That’s our question. He will faithfully lead us are we going to faithfully follow. Because if we do, we have the light of life and you will never walk in darkness again. So as we walk through life, now we have the light of salvation and truth and wisdom and hope for anything and everything that comes our way. We can sprint through life, and avoid the shed. Because we’re playing this game in the light now, which is a good way to play Mission Impossible. But here’s the thing, the world is still dark. Jesus came as a light into the dark world, the world still chose dark darkness over Jesus. And so the world we live in is still dark. And so we need to see, how can we be the light to others? You know, what’s crazy about that story about the boy and youth group. The way you got people out in that game, was using a flashlight to tag them, like shine it on them. So he hit that shed with a flashlight in his hands. But when we look at our life, this is our light. This is our light. Psalm 119: 105. “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” Are we going through life with this in our hands and ignoring it? Are we in it regularly? I’ve told students this over the years, how can we expect to walk into a dark world that is going to lie to us from every angle, and expect to get through the day if we don’t have light to bring into it? To see what’s actually true to see what God’s Word says. So we want to follow Him we need to read what he gave us we need to follow his light. Instead of hitting the shed with it in our hands. We need to use it and see what’s in front of us and avoid it at all costs. We can shine the light and dispel the darkness. And so the main point from this morning is very simple. If you’re following along the bottom of your notes, the light has come. The light has come, follow him. The light has come, follow him. You know kids like you guys got flashlights at home, right? Maybe somewhere. And when someone 18 says that you can use God’s word as a lamp to your feet and light to your path. It means you can use it to show where you’re supposed to go. It doesn’t mean you’re going to see everything but you’re going to see what God’s Word says and what he wants for you. And so whether it’s a flashlight, or it’s more of a lantern, whatever that might look like you can carry this with you. Wherever you go. That’s representing the Bible. Talk to your parents. Like I have a decision to make. I don’t know what to do. Let’s go to God’s word. Let’s see what He says, I’m struggling with a sin, bring it into the light. And where do you find that light? Well, what does God’s Word say about that? And say, Oh, we’re supposed to repent of that, right? We’re supposed to say, I’m sorry for what I’ve done. And then guess what, in God’s word, what He says He will forgive you. That was Word says, that’s the light, he will forgive you of your sin. So every time you see a flashlight, right through God’s word is my light for my life, he’s going to guide me and lead me, he’s going to tell me what I should do. Something amazing about Jesus saying that he’s the light of the world, he also says something about us. So if you’re a Christian, and you have said yes to Jesus, you believe you’re following him. Here’s what he says about you. In Matthew five. He says, You are the light of the world. You are the light of the world. And then he says, Let your light shine before others, they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. So let me show you what this looks like. So let’s imagine kids hopefully, you can see this if you need to kneel, or I don’t want to say stand. But however, you need to see this. All right, you guys see this cup up here? Let’s say this cup of water represents your life. And we’re living our life in darkness. Right? There’s no light coming from that water. It’s all darkness. But here’s the thing, when we believe in Jesus, we have a light, we have a light that will lead us with a light who will change us. And you know, what’s interesting is that when you say, I’m going to follow Jesus, I’m going to follow the light of the world. Look what happens. You glow. You become a light. He says, I am the light of the world. Without me, you’re in darkness. But with me, you now are the light of the world. And we’re supposed to go out and live this life so that others will see it and will glorify our Father in heaven. They’ll say, what’s different about you? What’s different? Oh, there’s a light there. But listen, this is not to look how bright and great I am. Because without this, I’m living in a dark world full of darkness myself, I have to say, oh, no, there’s somebody I want to introduce you to His name is Jesus. He’s the one doing this in me. And he can do that in YouTube. And that’s what our life is supposed to be a light to the world so that they see it. And they say, I want to know Jesus. And we can say, Guess what I know the light of the world, I can tell you about him. And that’s for all of us. Regardless of what your age is, this is our call to say, Oh, we are the light of the world because he is and because he has given his light to us to shine before the world so that they will follow him. I didn’t read all of Matthew 514 through 16. So listen to it again, you are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. So what does this mean for us church? It means we don’t do this life alone. We do it together. What’s amazing is that each one of us has God’s light in us. So when we are all together, it shines a little brighter. Look at this picture the United States at night satellite image, you see all those pockets of light, right? That isn’t one giant light in Chicago, or one giant light in New York City or LA what is it? Lots and lots of lights concentrated in one area. So that even from space, we can see those places. And that’s what we’re called to be church. We’re supposed to be a bunch of lights going together. If they were to take a shot right now of this place, we should be brighter, because we’re all together. But guess what, when we go out from here, we want to see more lights join us to say I am going to follow the light of the world and become that for us so that we can line up everywhere. With the love of Jesus with the life of Jesus. That’s what Jesus has called us to. He is the light of the world. He’s called us to be light as well. If you are here this morning, you are looking for that light, I would just encourage you again, please listen to the stories we’re going to hear in just a minute. stories from different people, different ages, different backgrounds. But they along with many of us have said yes, I’m going to follow the light of the world and kids. We pray that that would be true of you as well. That you would know love, serve and worship Jesus with your lives. Let’s pray. Dear Heavenly Father, we are so thankful that You have given us the light of Jesus. The light that came into this dark, dark world The light that has exposed our sin has shown us our need for you. A light that shows us where we should go and what we should do. A light that you have given to us in Your word, so that we don’t have to guess what you would have for us but we can know confidently the kind of life that you call us to. Lord, I pray for each and every person here, Lord, if they don’t know you, and that light, I pray that they would see the light, they would see you for who you are, give their life to following you. For those of us who have been walking with you for a long time, Lord, if there’s anywhere where we are not show us that shine light on that area so that we give it to you so that we can walk in get up and walk more faithfully behind you. Lord, the only right thing for us to do now is to come and adore you to bow down before you to sing, to sing Hallelujah to the light of the world. Amen.