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RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoint slides used in this sermon are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your request - #252.)
A. Last year you heard me preach on the scripture text (Psalm 74:20) that includes these words, "The dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty."
And you know that what he was saying is that "the dark places of the earth," the places where people live in superstition & fear, places where God is not known, those places are filled with cruelty, violence, & despair.
But in contrast to that, listen to Jesus in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
B. Bible commentators believe that Jesus spoke these words at a very special moment in the life of the Jewish people. You see, for 7 days each year the Jews celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles.
God had inaugurated this feast to help them remember that for 40 years their ancestors had wandered in the wilderness before God finally brought them into the promised land.
Now there were two things about the way the Jews celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles that made it very different from all their other annual feasts.
The first was that for those 7 days the entire nation camped out. That is, every family moved outdoors into booths made of branches & leaves to remind themselves of the hardships that their ancestors had undergone while living in booths or tents during the 40 years in the wilderness.
The second was that on the opening night of the celebration a giant Menorah with large bowls of oil was set up on the temple grounds in the Court of the Women. Then with great pomp & ceremony, the bowls of oil were set afire. And ancient accounts say that the light from this giant Menorah lit up the streets of Jerusalem.
This was to remind them that God had led their ancestors during their wanderings with a pillar of cloud by day, & a pillar of fire by night.
C. The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus had gone to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, & that he was speaking to the people in the area of the Treasury of the Temple which was just next to the Court of the Women where the giant Menorah had been set up.
Bible scholars suggest that Jesus may have timed the saying of these words with the lighting of the giant Menorah. So that when suddenly the darkness of the evening was dispelled by the brilliant flames, Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
PROP. Well, whether or not Jesus chose that moment, what He said is very important, so important that we need to understand what He meant by it.
I. I WILL BE WITH YOU & GUIDE YOU
A. First of all, I think that when Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life," He was saying that "I will be with you, & be your guide & protector."
Even as God had led their ancestors through the wilderness into the promised land, so Jesus will also be with us.
In fact, He made that promise again in His last words before He ascended to heaven. He told us to go into all the world, & then said, "I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:
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