The Light of the World

Jesus is the light of the world, he will take away the darkness.

George Wright
Apr 26, 2020    33m
In this sermon Pastor George Wright shares scripture that teach us that Jesus is the light of the world, and when we give our lives to him, he takes away the darkness from our lives. He reminds us that this promise should bring us so much hope, even during the darkest times in our lives. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Well as we continue in worship today, let me encourage you to go ahead and grab your Bible and we're going to be back in John's gospel where we started a new series last week. Today we're going to be in John chapter 8 so you can go ahead and find your place as we step into this message this morning. This series that we're in the middle of now is called, 'Who is Jesus?' And we're just asking the question, who does Jesus claim to be and why did he come? And the beautiful gift that we have in question that is so important like this, is Jesus himself reveals to us who he is in the words that he speaks about himself.

George Wright: 00:38 And in John's gospel specifically, we see seven statements that are called the 'I am' statements of Jesus. Where he helps us understand with greater clarity exactly who he is, and exactly why he came. We talked about this last week when we kicked off the series, the beautiful gift of these statements of Jesus is their simplicity and their clarity. Jesus is the master of putting the cookies on the bottom shelf. He speaks in such a way that deep, profound theological truth is made available to anyone who is willing to listen. With that in mind, I found a quote this week from the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon that I want to share with you. Listen to what Spurgeon said about these statements of Jesus, "God be thanked for this simplicity of the gospel. The longer I live, the more I bless God that we have not received a classical gospel, or a mathematical gospel, or a metaphysical gospel. It's not a gospel confined to scholars and men of genius, but a poor man's gospel, a plowman's gospel, and that is the kind of gospel which we can live upon and die upon." What a beautiful gift to recognize that if you are new to the Christian faith, or maybe you're joining us this morning really with a lot of questions and trying to determine what you believe. Our God is a God, not of confusion, but of clarity. And he lays before us the good news of the gospel in a way that anyone who is willing to engage and listen can see the truth of what God is revealing.

George Wright: 02:22 So with that in mind, we turn our attention to the scripture, and this second 'I am' statement of Jesus. And I would like to invite you if you're willing and able to stand with me, this is our custom at Shandon. I know this may feel a little unusual, we've said that every week as we're gathering together online. It may feel strange to stand in your den, your living room, your bedroom, wherever you may be right now. But go ahead and do so. And the reason why is this, we want to be reminded, especially during this time, that the word of God is the foundation for the people of God. It's what we stand upon, and the word of God to us what we need to hear, what God says is right and good and true. So we stand at the reading of God's word. John chapter 8 verse 12, this is what the scripture says, Jesus speaking about himself 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.”.

George Wright: 03:27 I am the light of the world. As we consider this statement today together, let me ask you to pray with me that God would use this time to speak into our lives. Let's pray. Father God, is we now turn our attention to your word, and as we look specifically at what Jesus reveals about himself. I pray, Lord God, that you would give us greater understanding of who you are and what you have done for us. This good news of the gospel, this simple gospel that you have laid before us, that we might understand your love and your grace and the beautiful invitation that has been presented to us. Lord, guide us during this time. Grant us wisdom. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Use your word to change our lives that we would not be the same as a result or that which you say. So we commit this time to you, we are thankful for it. It's in Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

George Wright: 04:36 If you were standing, go ahead and grab your seat, get comfortable. You may want to grab a pen or a notebook to take some notes as we walk through this time as well, and spend some more focus here in John chapter 8. What an amazing statement it is to consider the words Jesus, "Whoever follows me will not walk in the darkness." Whoever follows me will not walk in the darkness. Isn't that a relevant statement to consider in the times we are navigating right now? Jesus is saying to us as we navigate uncertainty, as we're not sure what's coming, as we navigate the unknown, as we are faced with circumstances that are challenging and difficult. This statement speaks something we all need to hear, to make decisions in wisdom, we need to see clearly. To navigate uncertain circumstances, we need clear vision of where we're going to go, and what we're going to do as we seek to understand how to respond. Clarity of sight is incredibly important as we seek to live our lives, especially as we seek to follow in accordance with God's will.

George Wright: 06:06 And so this statement lays before us a very simple, and yet profound, idea that we must consider from the words of Jesus. I am the light of the world. Here's the simple idea, without light, there is no sight. Without light, there is no sight. If we want to see clearly, we must see the light. With that in mind, we step back into our scripture for today, and I want to break this statement down and three specific parts. First, I want to look at the context of where Jesus is as he speaks these words, because the context is incredibly revealing. As it points us then, secondly, to the meaning. What is this meaning of I am the light of the world? What is the purpose of this statement? What is Jesus revealing to us? And then third, and finally I believe this statement demands a response. So what is our response from the statement of Jesus that he is the light of the world?

George Wright: 07:21 Let's step into the scripture, and let's look back at the context where Jesus is speaking these words. If you turn your attention to verse 20 of John chapter 8 John records for us these words he spoke in the treasury as he taught in the temple. But no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. John is showing us, Jesus is standing in the temple in Jerusalem, the place that is central to worship for the religious Jews at the time that Jesus is on earth. Why is it important that Jesus is in the temple? Because the temple really is the center of life for the religious Jews, and the temple is sacred and Holy ground. And is Jesus is standing in the temple, specifically beside or near the treasury, this is the place where people would come and offer their gifts and their tithes. This was where they would worship through giving. And the treasury was connected to a courtyard, an area that was called the court of women. And this is important, because this area of the temple was a very big area where any religious Jew could come and gather, all religious Jews were welcome in the court of women beside the treasury. And in the midst of this big gathering area, there would be these four beautiful candelabras, four massive torches, that would light up the night in this courtyard of the temple.

George Wright: 08:59 These torches, these candelabras, had significant meaning for the people of God. They were pointing the people back to the Exodus that we've talked about here in recent weeks, where God led his people out of bondage and slavery in Egypt, and he led them into the wilderness before leading them to the promised land. And while they were in the wilderness, while they were navigating uncertainty and navigating the unknown, God continued to provide for them day by day. And one of the ways that God provided for his people in the wilderness, is he showed them which way to go, he showed them a pillar of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. What does this mean? God lit up the sky. He showed the people which way to go. He showed the people how to follow after him by lighting the sky with a pillar of fire. And these four candelabras in the center of this courtyard in the temple, would be lit up as an act of worship, as an act of remembrance. This brilliant light shining in the temple, to remind the people of the pillar of fire that led them through the wilderness. It was said of these four candelabras that they were so bright, and so brilliant, that there was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that did not reflect their light. They could be seen from all around the city.

George Wright: 10:44 And here is Jesus standing in this courtyard among these massive torches, pointing back to the provision of God, and the light of God, directing the people. And he says in front of these big torches, "I am the light of the world." The context of where Jesus is standing is so significant, it helps us understand the meaning of what this statement is really all about. Because Jesus is saying something that the people would have immediately connected with and understood, in saying, I am the light of the world, especially in the context of the temple court, underneath these four big candelabras, Jesus is claiming to be God. For God alone could claim to be the light of his people. Look back at the very beginning of the story in scripture, the very book of the Bible, the very beginning of the scripture all together. Genesis chapter 1, look at the first words that God spoke in the scripture. Genesis 1 verse 3, "And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness." The very first words that we see spoken from the mouth of God recorded for us in the scripture, at the beginning of time, "Let there be light." God is the speaker of light, the creator of light, light himself.

George Wright: 12:49 But then turn back to John's Gospel where we're spending time in this series. Look at the first words of the Gospel of John, John chapter 1 beginning in verse 1 John writes, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made." Listen to this, "In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." What is John doing for us here in the beginning of this gospel? He is showing us a connection to the very beginning, the creation of the world as God says, let there be light. John says, yes, and the Word was God, and the Word made flesh is Jesus, the light of the world.

George Wright: 14:00 Now Jesus, standing in the courtyard of the temple says, "I am the light of the world." Jesus' declaring himself to be God, Jesus' the only hope for a world wandering in the darkness. If you want to understand the meaning of this statement, the meaning of this statement is, Jesus is claiming to be God. And all of the scripture points to this reality, that Jesus is the light of the world, God in the flesh. The only hope for people to see God in the midst of the darkness of this world, is to look to Jesus. But in this meeting, in this statement, that I am the light of the world, meaning I am God, as Jesus says. We can see how controversial these words truly are, especially at the time that Jesus spoke them.

George Wright: 15:08 Immediately, the Pharisees are frustrated. We see in John chapter 8 verse 13, the religious leaders, "The Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” Hold on Jesus, only God can claim to be the light of the world, only God can lead his people through the darkness of the world as the light. Jesus, you can't make this claim about yourself. Immediately the religious leaders, and the Pharisees, begin to reject the claim of Jesus. They don't want to hear it, for you see, they were so adamant that their way was the right way. They were so adamant that their religious works were what set them right before God. They were so adamant that their devotion in their religion was what made them right in the sight of God. So they didn't want to hear what Jesus had to say, that he was God, he was their hope, he was the answer they were longing for. He was the one that would lead them through the darkness, the only one who could save. You see these controversial words of Jesus, they lead us to a response. In fact, I would go so far as to say they demand a response, for Jesus is declaring to be God. Will we believe what he has said? Because if you think about it, there's really only one of two options here. Either Jesus is exactly who he says he is, or he is lying about who he says he is. And if he is lying as the Pharisees accused him of when he made this statement, then there would be no way that we could conclude Jesus is a good teacher, or a good prophet, or someone from God. Because a good teacher, and a good prophet, or someone sent from God would not build their life and their identity on a lie. So we must decide, how will we respond? Will we trust the word of Jesus? Will we believe what he says about himself? Or will we reject this claim altogether?

George Wright: 17:42 To help us understand just a little bit more clearly the response that I believe this statement of demands according to the scripture, turn back in John's Gospel, to John chapter 3. This is probably considered one of the most famous, if not the most famous, passages of scripture in all of the Bible. John chapter 3 verse 16, you may be familiar with this verse, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." This is showing us why Jesus came, Jesus came to offer life to those who would trust him, to those who would believe in him. Look at what it says in verse 17, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." This is so incredibly important, because so many people have a view of God that perhaps God is out to get them, or God is harsh and cruel and mean, or God is holding out on them, or God is just looking for a reason to judge or condemn or strike us down. The reality is, God sees us in our sin, God sees us in our need, God sees us in the darkness. And he knows, he knows, we are in desperate need of a savior. And so God sent his son, Jesus, God in the flesh, not to judge or condemn the world and strike us down on the spot, no, but to save those who would trust in him. To provide the gift of salvation that invites us into the light.

George Wright: 19:37 And that's what we see as we continue in John 3 verse 18, "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, (Here's the response.) and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed." Jesus is revealing here in John 3 the response to the statement he makes, I am the light of the world, I have come to provide the gift of salvation, not to condemn sinners. But in the good news of the gospel that points to this gift of salvation in Christ alone, as he has done for us what we could never for ourselves, we also see that the gospel reveals in us why we need the savior. Because the gospel exposes who we truly are, the gospel exposes what is hidden in the darkness, the gospel exposes the things that we're ashamed of and embarrassed by that we don't want anyone to see. The gospel says no, God sees all that and he loves you, and he's inviting you into the gift of salvation that comes through Christ alone. This is why the gospel is called good news. But many people are afraid of the light, because the light again reveals what is hidden in the darkness. People often hide from the light.

George Wright: 21:44 Several years ago I went on a mission trip to the country of Peru, in South America, and I was going with a group from our church and the group had already gone on the trip. They, they left before I was able to leave, because I was having to stay back and preach on Sunday morning, and I was going to meet them a couple of days late on the ground in Peru. And so I flew in on Sunday evening, landed in Lima, Peru, and I was met at the airport by one of the local missionaries, one of the Peruvian missionaries that lived there in Lima. And he told me at the airport, really through broken English, we're going to spend the night here in Lima before we go meet the group tomorrow because it's several hours away and there's no reason to drive in the middle of the night. And I was exhausted after preaching, and an international flight, and so I was thankful that we could just go to sleep and then do the rest of the trip the following day. But he took me to his apartment where he lived in Lima, and I realized very quickly this was going to be a different experience for me altogether as far as it relates to a place to sleep, because this apartment was as basic as I've ever seen. There was no running water, no indoor plumbing at all in the apartment. It had one bedroom, and then a little small kitchen area, and the missionary who had very graciously set up a makeshift little cot for me in the kitchen where I was going to sleep. And the only light in the entire place was a single light bulb coming out of the ceiling, with a string to turn it on and turn it off. And so I realized this was going to be a different night trying to sleep. But I was exhausted, so I laid down on this little makeshift cot and I pulled the string, turned off the light, and tried to get settled there on that cot. And a few minutes after turning off the light, I felt like I was hearing little noises all around me, all around the room. And I'm thinking, okay, maybe, maybe I'm just a little paranoid or just a little skittish, this is an unusual setting that I find myself in. But then, as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I began to feel like the walls were moving, and I looked off the cot at the floor, and it seemed like the floor was moving. And I thought, okay, either my mind is really playing tricks on me, or there's something in this little kitchen area. So I reached up, pulled the string and turned on that light. And the moment the light came on, literally hundreds of cockroaches spread to every corner of the room trying to escape the light. It was a crazy night for me. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep. I left the light on for the remainder of the night, and just tried to be as still as possible, hoping there would be no creatures that would come crawling over me in the nighttime.

George Wright: 24:53 This is the way so many people respond to the light. The light reveals what's hidden in the dark. The light can be intimidating. In fact, the light, at times, can even elicit fear because it reveals what we don't want people to see. And yet, Jesus is saying, in this beautiful statement of John chapter 8, I am the light of the world. Meaning I am God, meaning I see everything that you have hidden in the dark corners of your life, and I have come that you might have life stepping into the light and experiencing the gift of my love and grace. This statement of Jesus demands a response. I love what John MacArthur writes in his commentary about John's gospel, look at this quote, he says, "People don't come to the light, because the light exposes them, it shows them the truth about what they are. And the hardest thing for a man to do in the world is face himself in reality. Men see a flicker of light, and light bugs under a rock they dart back into the blackness, less the light expose their true person."

George Wright: 26:36 Here's the choice that the statement of Jesus demands we make. Will we live our lives hiding in the dark, or will we step into the freedom of the light? For you see, the darkness only leads to greater darkness, but the light only leads to greater freedom. Because in the light of the world, we find the light of life, the very gift that God alone can provide, the gift that he has offered to us through Jesus Christ the savior. Step into the light, and you will see freedom of Christ. For it is only in the light that we can see God, without light, there is no sight.

George Wright: 27:50 I want to close by looking at a different portion of a letter that the Apostle John wrote, First John. And I want to look at these verses in First John chapter 1, John writes, "This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." If you are hiding in the darkness, you cannot see God. If you are hiding in the darkness, you cannot follow where God wants you to go, because God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. But if you step out on faith, and if you step into the light, and if you trust your life to Jesus Christ, the blood of Jesus Christ shed at the cross cleanses our sin, offers us forgiveness, makes us new, and invites us into this beautiful gift called the light of life here right now, and eternal life in the age to come. So when you step into the light, when you come out of hiding, will you trust the statement of Jesus, "I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."? This is a promise of God to you if you will trust him at his word, step into the light.

George Wright: 30:04 Pray with me as we consider the word of God here today. Father, we are so very grateful for the simplicity, and the clarity, of those statements of Jesus about himself, "I am the light of the world." What a beautiful statement, and what a simple concept to understand. Without lights, there is no sight, Jesus has offered us the way to truly see. To step into the light, to have our sin forgiven through the blood of Christ, and to live in the beautiful gift of the gospel that is the light of life. So Father, I pray for everyone who is listening to this message today that is hiding in the darkness, I pray, Lord God, that they would see how desperately they need the light. I pray, Lord God, that you would give them the faith to step into the light. There are some who have been in the church for many years, some who are even aware of what Christ has done, and yet they've been hiding in the darkness. Lord, give them the faith to see your provision and your amazing grace. Father, we are so very grateful for the invitation you have offered us, to not have to live in hiding, and to not have to wander in darkness that leads to further darkness, but to step into the light and to rest in what you have done for us through the good news of Jesus Christ. Oh Lord, thank you for the light of life. And for those who know you, and those who are following you this day, I pray, Lord God, that you would use our lives to be a picture and a reflection of the light shining brightly in the world around us, the way those beautiful candelabras shone so brightly in the temple in Jerusalem, and all the city could see. I pray, Lord God, that the light Jesus Christ would shine through your church, because the world around us is wandering in darkness and searching for hope, let the light of Christ shine its brightest. We pray that you would use us for your glory, and we thank you for what you are revealing to us as we look to you. It's in the beautiful name of Jesus' I pray. Amen.

George Wright: 33:14 What a privilege to share this time with you today. Thank you for joining us. I do want you to know we are praying for you. We sure love you, we can't wait to see you again in person, but until that day comes, we look forward to seeing you again real soon. Right here at God bless.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206