Summary: A sermon on the I AM statement of Jesus in John 8 - what does it mean to turn on the light?

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John 8:12-20

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.” 13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” 19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come.

Jesus’ remark in v12 was specifically suited to the feast of Sukkot; [tabernacles] for, according to the Mishna, at the Temple:

“There were four golden menorahs with four golden bowls at the top of each, and four ladders each leading to a bowl. Four strong young cohanim would climb up with pitchers each holding 9 liters of oil which they would pour into the bowls. From the worn-out drawers and girdles of the cohanim they made wicks, and with them they lit the menorahs; and there was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that was not lit up by the light. Pious men and men of good deeds would dance around [the menorahs] with lit torches in their hands, singing songs and praises, while the Levites played harps, lyres, cymbals, trumpets and innumerable other musical instruments ….” (Sukkah 5:2–4)

The Gemara on this passage says the menorahs were 75 feet high (Sukkah 52b). Thus, the water-drawing festival was accompanied by bright lights and dancing—for Sukkot is specifically a festival of rejoicing. Now Jesus uses the fact that the feast is accompanied by a blaze of light to announce, “I am the light of the world.

1 No More Bruised Shins

I hate turning off the lights in the school at the end of the evening service. Why? Because the light switches are in such an inaccessible place, I have to stumble around in the dark trying to find them.

What about those pull strings in the old farmhouses? Did you ever see somebody trying to find the string in the dark? It’s quite a strange sight.

What about us? We wave our hands about; we carry on in some strange and unusual ways in worship. Why? We’re looking for the light switch, and we are saying to people, "Bear with us, because if we can find that switch and turn on that light of the glory and presence of God, nothing will ever be the same around here!"

Isaiah 60:1-3

1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Our job is to turn on the light - to beg God to send his awesome presence and to transform us and our community

Jesus’ I AM statement was related to the Feast of Tabernacles, during which the huge menorah were lighted in the temple at night to remind the people of the pillar of fire that had guided Israel in their wilderness journey. In fact, John has combined three “wilderness images”: the manna (John 6), the water from the rock (John 7), and the pillar of fire (John 8).

To “follow” the Lord Jesus means to believe on Him, to trust Him; and the results are life and light for the believer. The unsaved are walking in darkness because they love darkness (John 3:17ff). One of the major messages in this Gospel is that the spiritual light is now shining, but people cannot comprehend it—and they try to put it out (John 1:4–5).

2 The People In Darkness Have Seen A Great Light

When someone is prepared to pay the price, to do what needs to be done to open the windows of heaven (humble, repentant worship), the light gets switched on and the floodlight of the presence of God shines over the landscape of lost, broken and hurting people.

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