Summary: Why did Jesus use "Light" to explain His deity to people? In what way does Light speak to us today?

May, 2007

I AM the Light of the World

John 1:1-9

John 8:12

INTRODUCTION: Jesus’ claim to be “the light of the world” is one of SEVEN claims in the scriptures concerning His deity. In the next few weeks I will be talking about three of the other claims. In various scriptures, He talks about being the light. In John 8:12 He spoke, “I AM the light of the world: he that followed me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.”

Some background as to why He used the word “light” in this scripture to make His claims of deity was that during the Feast of Tabernacles in the temple court there were great golden lamps used to light the area during the feast. As He spoke these words, He was standing in the treasury (vs. 20) and was relating the natural light to the spiritual light--the inexhaustible source of the true light. Even though these lamps shone brightly each day, his light shone more brightly into the world of darkness.

Immediately upon making this claim, the Pharisees said, “You’re talking about yourself here and this is not true.” The Jews recognized the term “I AM” as a term for deity. The term speaks of self-existence and eternal being. You will remember back in the book of Exodus when Moses was to go to Pharoah and he asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharoah? When they ask who is the God of the Israelites what shall I say?” God said, “tell them I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). So Jesus is using this term of deity that the Pharisees all understood--”I AM the light, I AM the Way, I AM the door.” There are 7 of these “I AM’s” given in the scripture that relate to natural things that they all understood. By these, Jesus made His claims to deity.

How can we relate to these things?

1. The Purpose: Why was LIGHT one of the great claims of Jesus? What was the purpose of the light? There were several things, but one of the main purposes for Jesus coming into the world was to expose sin and darkness. The Pharisees did not like the light shining on them to expose their attitudes and deeds. People who were in sin did not like the light to expose their sin.

ILLUSTRATION: If you turn over a log in the woods, the bugs will scurry everywhere, not because they fear you but because the light is repulsive to them.

John 3:19-20 says, “and this is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”

The Pharisees got very upset when Jesus made his claim, “I AM the Light,” and they fought Him on this claim.

In today’s scripture in John 1 it says, “He was in the world and the world was made by him and the world knew him not. He came to his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:10-11).

Can you think of a dying person refusing a doctor? Or a starving person rejecting food? Or a drowning person refusing a lifeboat? A freezing person refusing a warm coat? Yet this was exactly what happened when Jesus, the Light, came into a darkened world. He was rejected by many people then just as he is now because:

1. The nature of humans is sinful

2. Those who live in darkness don’t want their evil deeds exposed

3. The prince of darkness, Satan, rules in the hearts of unbelievers

What does this say to us?

2. Light is Revealing: to both unbelievers and believers alike. We may think we are OK living in sin and not think it is necessary to come to church, but when we do, the Holy Spirit will reveal to us through SHINING LIGHT on us as we really are. In that light Thomas saw himself and cried out, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Peter more than once stood in the light of Jesus’ power and awesomeness and said, “Go away from me for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8).

Story: A famous picture hangs in St. Paul’s cathedral in London, and it is called the “Light of the World.” It is a picture of Jesus knocking at the door. Because this picture was hanging in a place near some busy roads, it got dusty and began to lose its color. The Cathedral authorities decided to get it cleaned. When the art specialist took it out of the frame and shined a light on it, they saw some words that no one was intended to read. The artist had written many years earlier, “Forgive me, Lord Jesus, that I kept you waiting at the door so long.” He had known about Jesus but waited a long, long time before responding to the invitation. The LIGHT had shown up these words; and in the end, he sent the message to thousands who gazed upon the picture. It was good that these few words were brought to the light.

Is it bad for the spotlight to shine on us? In one man’s case it brought him to eternal life right at the nick of time. The thief on the cross said, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Jesus’ light shone so strongly that John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the word” (John 1:29).

The light reveals the Way of Salvation to us. People don’t want to come to church because of that revealing light which shows them where they are living. Christians don’t always want the spotlight shining on them to point out sin either. Scripture tells us, “He that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). Light is always linked with life. Darkness is linked with death. Why would we not want life and that more abundantly?

3. Light is Refining: Our walk with God. Ephesians 5:8 says, “For you were sometimes darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. WALK as children of light.”

How does His light make a difference in your life--at work, at school, at home, or anywhere you go? Throughout scripture we see that when Jesus came into a person’s life, His light drove out darkness and sin. When Jesus came to the demon possessed man, the evil spirit left him. When he came into Simon Peter’s life, great changes took place over a period of time. When we face life’s challenges, he gives us direction by shining light on our pathway. Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Jesus is saying, “the person who follows me as a traveler follows the light in a dark night shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life. If we go by His guidelines, take directions from Him, we will not be led to destruction. Many people today are following false lights rather than His TRUE light. They are groping around in confusion, danger, and destructiveness. We are not only to LOOK AT the light but WALK IN IT.

Story: A man drove his wagon swiftly and safely through a dark forest. Afterwards he was asked how he knew where all the trees were along the road so he could miss them as he drove on the narrow road. He replied that he did not know where they were. He added, “I looked up at the opening between the tree tops and knew that if I followed the light above, I would be safe.”

We must do this in our spiritual journey. Look up to the Light that Jesus gives. We will have direction in spite of all the darkness around us.

When we follow Jesus, walking in His light, we can avoid walking blindly and falling into sin. He lights the path ahead of us so we can see how to live and what decisions to make.

If we are to receive the Light He wants to give, we must be willing to remove all those things that would prevent us from receiving or things that would cause the light to go out. What causes the light to go out in your life? Indifference, laziness, not making it a priority? Only you can answer that.

4. Our Witness: We live and walk in the light that Jesus gives in order to reflect that light to others. “You are the light of the world…” (Matthew 5:14). “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We allow the light of Jesus to be seen in our lives as we identify ourselves as followers of Jesus. We don’t have to be obnoxious about it. We don’t have to preach or point a finger at other people criticizing them for the way they live. We simply let our light shine as we live as a follower of Jesus in word or in action.

When we are prepared at any moment to tell others about the light in our lives, we are careful to live in a way that is pleasing to God. No one who is planning to say something good about Jesus will allow their lives to be a bad testimony by living in sin.

Why has He chosen to reflect His light through us to an unbelieving world? Maybe because unbelievers are not able to bear the full gazing glory of His light firsthand.

Conclusion: Have you allowed the Light of Jesus to expose the sin in your life--to let you know you need a Savior? Have you allowed His Holy Spirit to shine His spotlight on your life as Peter did? Are you walking in His light? How is your witness to the world? Is it so weak that the world can’t even see Christ in you?

If you, like the artist, have kept Jesus waiting too long at the door, today is the day to answer His call. If you have been living a life of indifference and laziness, it is time to make Him a priority in your life.

If you are not letting your light shine very brightly, today is the time to make a new start.

Let us Pray: