Summary: The disciples on the road to Emmaus had their eyes opened when the bread was broken. The songwriter wrote, "at the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light..." The cross opens our eyes.
Johyn 8. Nicky Cruz was the leader of the toughest gang in New York City. His Satanist parents abused him brutally, so he grew up a hardened man void of love and full of hate. “I wanted to do to others what my mother did to me,” Nicky says. “I used to feel good when I hurt people.” But privately, he didn’t feel good. “Privately, I was so lonely and I felt so lost.” Pastor David Wilkerson risked his life to tell Nicky there was hope. He said, “God has the power to change your life” but Nicky started cursing out loud,” “I spit in his face, and I hit him. I told him, ‘I don’t believe in what you say and you get out of here.’” Nicky never expected what he heard Wilkerson say next. Wilkerson replied, “You could cut me up into a 1000 pieces and lay them in the street. Every piece will shout ‘I love you.’” Nicky says, “It did damage. Good [damage] in my brain and in my heart. I began to question this kind of love, and for two weeks I could not sleep thinking about that kind of love.” Nicky and his gang showed up at one of Wilkerson’s rallies. One by one, they gave their lives to Christ. It was the crucifixion – Jesus’ death on the cross -- that grabbed Nicky. “I saw the death of Jesus in my place, the righteous for the unrighteous, and I was choked up with pain, and my eyes were fighting and tears began to come down and more tears and I was fighting and then I surrendered,” says Nicky. “For the first time in my life somebody hugged me, His Name was Jesus, and I let my head rest on His chest. I said I’m sorry. Forgive me, and for the first time, I told somebody I love you.” And then he said this, “The cross opened my eyes to who I had been, the cross opened my eyes to what Jesus had done about who I had been.”
The cross opened Nicki Cruz’s eyes, gave him an understanding and revelation, that’s because God reveals Himself to man at the cross. You can see that in verse 28: "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be. The title of my sermon today is “The Cross Opens Our Eyes.”
In John chapter 8 Jesus is speaking with the Jews and has been temporarily interrupted by the woman taken in adultery, whom He forgives and then He instructs to change her life, to live differently, to go and sin no more. And in this story we see the two basics of Christianity. Christianity is the declaration of good news and it is the instruction to live differently. Jesus says to this woman “I do not condemn you” and then says “go and sin no more.” Jesus combines grace and truth beautifully, and as Christians we are called to emphasize the gospel first, to tell people that God has made provision for their sin in the death of His Son, and that because Jesus was condemned all who believe are not condemned. But then we must follow the good news up with admonishment to change.
And then we saw last week that Jesus then continues His discussion with the Pharisees from chapter 7. At the end of chapter 7 these Pharisees say that Jesus cannot be a prophet because no prophet was to come out of Galilee, so Jesus responds in chapter 8 verse 12 and says “I am the Light of the world, Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the Light of Life.” In saying this He was reminding the Jews of Isaiah chapter 9 that predicted a great light coming out of Galilee; a light that would bring victory and freedom and peace to the Gentiles.
So I want us to see that in this section Jesus makes a great claim and gives a great promise. The great claim is “I am the Light of the world.” The great promise is “whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
Now I want us to notice that His claim is really a claim to being God. Jesus here says “I am”. Three times in this passage Jesus says, “I am.” Vs. 24 He says “if you do not believe that I Am (the words “who I claim to be” are not in the original”) you will indeed die in your sins” and vs. 28 “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I Am.” And look at vs. 58 He says “"I tell you the truth," "before Abraham was born, I am!" Not, “before Abraham was born, I was.” No, “I Am.”