Summary: Allow the light of the world to bring you out of darkness so you can shine in the darkness around you.
The Light of the World
Rev. Brian Bill
February 13-14, 2016
[Bring up flashlights, candles, nightlight, lantern, spotlight, construction lights, etc.]
This little nightlight is not very bright but it gives just enough light to dispel the darkness in the middle of the night. On the other extreme, some spotlights claim to be one million times brighter than a single candle. Their light is so bright that they come with a warning to not look directly into the beam.
As we continue in our sermon series, “Metaphors of the Messiah,” we’re focusing this weekend on the second “I Am” statement of Jesus: “I am the Light of the World.” Several people told me last week’s sermon was excruciating to sit through because of the smell of fresh bread filling the room. We’ve been learning that whenever we come face-to-face with Jesus, an agonizing decision has to be made. When Jesus disrupts, some will desert Him and others will declare their allegiance to Him.
In each of these magnificent metaphors, the phrase “I Am” hearkens back to when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush. When Moses saw the “flames of fire,” he wanted to get a closer look but was told to remove his sandals because God’s presence had made the ground holy. After Moses is informed that he will lead God’s people out of Egypt, he wants to know what to say when people ask about God’s name. God answers in Exodus 3:14: “I AM WHO I AM.”
“I Am” is God’s covenantal name. This title was so sacred that it was only uttered by the high priest, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement. It literally means, “I am who I am,” and signals the truth that nothing else defines who God is but God Himself.
Every time Jesus uses one of the “I AM” metaphors, He is emphatically stating that He is Yahweh. This is a staggering statement of His sovereign supremacy. Just as the bush burned brightly and cast light all around, so too, Jesus is the light of the world, and a consuming fire that should stop us in our tracks because we are on holy ground. When Jesus used the phrase, “I AM” He did so on purpose and those who heard Him did not miss the obvious connection He was making.
This riles up the Pharisees and they interrupt Jesus ten times in John 8 alone. They take umbrage at His outrageous utterances and ask Jesus a pointed question in verse 53: “Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus pushes them further than they were intending to go when he declares in verse 56: “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” They don’t know how to respond to this scandalous statement so they turn to sarcasm in verse 57: “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”
They’re probably chuckling to themselves at the absurdity of this statement and then they’re bowled over because Jesus isn’t finished yet. Look at verse 58: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Verse 59 tells us that they picked up stones to slay him, but Jesus slipped away.
Please turn now to John 8:12: “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” Jesus is not saying that He is holding the light, or that He has the light, or that He’s the way to the light. [Hold up various lights]
Instead, He is unequivocally stating, “He is the light.” As we go through these Messiah Metaphors, it’s important to understand some background information. Let’s begin by looking at the properties of light.
1. Light reveals. Light enables us to see things that were there all along but because of the darkness we could not see them [Use flashlight to reveal the ugly scar on my face]. Darkness conceals and light reveals. Without light we can’t see anything. It was C.S. Lewis who said, “I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun. Not only because I see it, but because by it all things are seen.” Ephesians 5:13: “But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible.” By the way, that’s why some people avoid coming to church. They really don’t want Christ to shine His light on the way they’ve been living.
2. Light gives life. Light is necessary for life itself. It sets our biological clocks, triggers in our brains the sensations of color, and supplies the energy for things to grow. Have you heard of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)? Winter is a tough time because the sun often disappears and depression can set in. I have an extended family member who deals with this. Interestingly, only about 1% of Floridians have SAD, while 10% of Alaskans struggle with it. I’m told that one of the best treatments is using bright light therapy [turn on lantern].