Summary: How Christ comes to scatter the darkness of sin and death.
JESUS: I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
I am sure many of you are familiar with this painting. It is by Holman Hunt and is known as ‘The Light of the World.’ It has appeared on many Christian cards etc. It depicts Christ standing in a doorway with a lantern – as if waiting to be invited in. All sorts of things have been concluded about Hunt’s theology from this painting. This morning I am not going to speculate on Hunt’s reasons for painting the picture but use it simply to introduce the sermon topic to you. Turn with me first to John 8 verse 12 (READ) and then turn on to John 9 verse 5 (READ) and then on a few pages to John 12 verse 46 (READ). As you can see from these verses Jesus applied the title ‘I am the Light of the World’ to Himself on several occasions. We come then to this second ‘I AM…’ saying of Christ in John’s gospel.
Let us set the context for the first and second usage of this saying in John’s gospel. On the first occasion a woman, who had been caught in adultery, was brought before Christ. The religious leaders asked for His judgement on the matter, as a means of trapping Him and condemning Him also. You are familiar with the story. Jesus kneels down in the dust and begins to draw with His finger in the dirt. Without glancing at those who have dragged this woman before Him He challenges the one without sin to cast the first stone. When He looks up they are all gone and He speaks to the woman whose life He has just saved. Against that background He utters these words – READ John 8 verse 12, we will come back to that in a moment.
Then at the beginning of chapter 9 we have the ‘healing sign’ (miracle) of the man who was born blind (verse1). The disciples ask a theological question concerning this man (verse 2). For the disciples this man’s blindness was an unsolved theological riddle for Christ it was a means of revealing the glory of God’s work (verse 3) in his life. Then we encounter Christ again applying this phrase ‘I am the Light of the World’ to Himself (verses 4-5) and to support that claim He makes a mud pack and puts it on the blind man’s eyes (verse 6) and commands him to go to the pool of Siloam (which means ‘Sent) and there to wash his eyes (verse 7). The man obeys and John simply states ‘came home seeing’ (verse 7). There then follows a series of interviews by neighbours, who then bring him before the Pharisees in the synagogue who interview him, his parents and the man a second time. The whole thrust of the Pharisee’s questions are to refute the man’s claim that Jesus is from God because he has healed. Their contention is that Christ is a ‘sinner’ because He has healed on the Sabbath day. The Sabbath tradition (not the Scriptures) forbade healing on the Sabbath. It also forbade kneading (which Christ had done to make the mud), building (of which mud was a material) and anointing (which Christ had done to the man’s eyes). So we have two clear contexts for Christ to speak this phrase ‘I am the Light of the World.’ The first, the woman caught in adultery, was a situation of morality and the breaking of God’s Law and the second was a case of physical blindness which provided the means to reveal spiritual blindness. So let us look at little more closely at what Christ meant by applying to Himself the phrase ‘I am the Light of the World.’
These two passages speak of Light. At the very beginning of creation God created ‘Light’ and at the very beginning of Christ’s life on earth He is described as ‘the light of men’ which the ‘darkness has not understood (or overcome)’ (John 1 verses 4-5). From this point on ‘Light’ permeates the whole gospel of John. You see light is essential for life, for all life. Light is essential but we take ‘light’ for granted. We take for granted that there will be ‘daylight.’ Hence our amazement at such things as an eclipse. We take electrical light so much for granted that we moan when there is a power cut. In the day of Christ when daylight ended darkness began. The contrast between light and darkness was evident for all to see. There were no street lights, and lights within a home were very primitive indeed. Hence Christ’s use of the foolishness of hiding a lamp in the house when lit and the wisdom of 5 of the bridal virgins of bringing extra oil in preparation for the return of the Bridegroom. John constantly throughout his gospel contrasts the presence of Christ (light) and the darkness of leaving his presence – for example when Judas goes out to betray Christ – he goes out into the night. Of the 72 occasions ‘light’ is used in the NT 33 are used in John’s gospel. So right at the beginning of this sermon I want us to understand the essential nature of Light to Life and its contrast to and separation from darkness.