Summary: In His last sermon before the Cross, Jesus affirms His union with the Father, along with a message of hope for tomorrow and light for our darkness. He also states the position of believers and unbelievers.
If somehow I knew my next sermon would be my last, what would I preach? Our Lord’s time on earth was drawing to a close, and so He delivered a final sermon, an appeal to people to embrace His light. One translation introduces His message: “And Jesus cried aloud” (Moffat). There’s a sense of urgency to this, His last message before His Passion.
These words, emphatically spoken, provide a climactic summary of His ministry. In these 7 verses, Jesus affirms His union with the Father, along with a message of hope for tomorrow and light for our darkness. He also states the position of believers and unbelievers.
To trust Jesus is to trust the Father. Jesus is the visible, self-expression of the Father; He is God-the-Son. The Triune God has one consciousness that is present in a threefold way with three unified centers of harmony, balance, and completeness--inseparable, yet distinct. The three divine persons are in one another, yet remain distinct from one another. We experience salvation by being invited into the love, joy, and peace that the Father, Son, and Spirit have enjoyed from all eternity.
Jesus is the Light of the world, dispelling our darkness. Darkness is the state--the condition--of us all before coming to faith. Jesus stands ready to deliver us from this sinful state. The problem is, many have grown accustomed to the dark. They’ve adapted and are doing just fine, thank you. It’s been noted: “All the right doctrine in the world can’t save a heart unaffected by the gospel” (Josh Moody). We don’t know how the Spirit is working, so we need to continue urging people to come to Christ.
No one need remain in the dark. Jesus’ light gives life. He takes us from despair to hope. He enlightens our minds, giving us wisdom and insight. He transforms even the darkness of death. We see, by His light, the severity of our sin and the Way of pardon. When we turn to the Light, life begins to make sense. Finally we find our way out of what’s been called “the dark night of the soul.” The light of Christ offers reassurance in an uncertain world.
Jesus spoke with urgency. We need to share His message with the same urgency. Jews for Jesus founder Moishe Rosen was introduced to Jesus by Orville Freestone, who befriended Moishe, gave him a New Testament, and answered his questions…yet Orville wasn’t hopeful; he told his wife, “My friend Moishe will be the last person in the world ever to be trust Jesus.” How wrong he proved to be! We shouldn’t give up on anyone, or act defeated in the face of unbelief. We never know the full impact of our witness. Jesus said, “The one who looks at Me” will find the Light. We need to plead with people to “look and live.”
We’ve been taught to only trust what we can see--therefore the “light” of Christ is dismissed by skeptics as mythological mumbo-jumbo…yet we freely admit there is light we cannot see, that isn’t visible to the human eye; for instance, infrared light. To deny it, to say it doesn’t exist because we can’t see it, is to deny reality…so too with God’s light. His light is invisible to us, yet is within us. Those who refuse His light will one day find it extinguished. Jesus warned in Luke 10:16, “Those who reject Me, reject Him who sent Me.”
The secular mind can understand science and math, but cannot comprehend spiritual truth. Even regarding science and math, they can only understand how things are, not why. Faith enables us to gain discernment of ultimate issues, to know the purpose for all things.
Seminary professor Michael Horton observes: “The ultimate tragedy of man's self-understanding is that he believes himself to be free, has all the feelings of a free agent, but does not realize that he is a slave to sin and serves the will of Satan.” Our job as followers of Jesus is to poke holes in the darkness; to show people their bondage to sin and their freedom in Christ. We don’t preach hate, like those who gladly thrust Hell into people’s faces. We offer rescue, and healing for the worst disease of all. We need some of the urgency Jesus had when He spoke His last sermon.
Who is Jesus? Our Savior; He is not our Judge. Why did He come here? Not to condemn, but to bear our condemnation. The reason Jesus didn’t come to judge is simple: we stand already judged…due to our sinful nature, we are broken people in need of forgiveness. We are born in sin. Adam’s sin is passed on to all his descendents. But pardon is readily available; all we need do is look to Jesus and receive it.