Message

2021.5.9

The Gospel of John #13

Christ Who Came as the Light of the World

 

John chapter 8:12 – 59

Good morning, everyone. 

Today, we will be looking at the Gospel of John 8:12 to 59.  As in the title of today’s sermon, it is the passage in which Jesus declared that he came as the light of the world.

By the way, have you ever experienced darkness so dark that you couldn’t even see your feet or the palm of your hands?  When I was in high school, I was in a room without any windows, and suddenly, the lights were turned off.  I wasn’t in any danger.  It was in a haunted house of the school festival.  It was pitch dark that I couldn’t even see my hands hold up right in front of my face.  Naturally, I couldn’t see my feet, either.  I remember even now of feeling like I was floating in a dark space, and I was more fearful of not even knowing which way I was facing, right or left, than being in a haunted house.  I automatically remember this experience when I look at the passage referring to Jesus coming to this world as the light. 

That Jesus came as the light of the world gives us hope, and today, I would like to look with you what kind of hope that is. 

Now, last time in the series on the Gospel of John, we took a look up to 7:52.  As you may have noticed, we skipped 7:53 to 8:11.  I’d like to touch upon the reason for that.

7:53 to 8:11 is the passage that deals with how the teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought a sinful woman before Jesus to test how he would judge her.  

Please look in your Bibles.  There are parenthesis at the beginning of verse 7:53 and at the end of 8:11.  Next, please look at the footnote.  It says that the earliest manuscripts do not have this part, and that in the few manuscripts that do, there are many differences, and that some even have it in the Gospel of Luke.  And in fact, the episodes in 7:52 and 8:12 connect in a natural way. 

Many Biblical scholars, too, consider that the literary style in Greek here is different from the style John used in other parts, and conclude that it might have been added on later.  For those reasons, I will not deliver a sermon from this Scripture passage, and skip it.   

Now, let’s take a look at today’s Scripture passage.  Today’s Scripture passage is a scene that continues from 7:52.  That is, it is the scene where Jesus patiently tried to teach the Jews during the Festival of Tabernacles.  We will be dealing again with a very long Scripture passage this time, too, but what Jesus said can be summed up into a few things.  Let’s look at them in order.  Like before, I will have you looking back and forth between 8:12 to 59. 

The first thing Jesus said to the people is, “I am the light of the world.”  I will read 8:12.

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

That Jesus said he came as the light of the world conversely means that this world is darkness.  Humans, because of their sins, are separated from God, and are unable to see God’s love and grace.  Jesus is saying that because of that, they have lost the direction for their lives and it is like they are wandering in the dark. 

Humans originally lived depending on God, and obeying God in a trusting relationship with God.  It was filled with joy, assurance, and hope in following God.  However, with sin, they lost that relationship of trust with God, and lost the original purpose for life that God had planned of feeling joy and assurance in walking with God. 

Please look at verse 19.  The Jews ask who the father that Jesus talks about is.  To that, Jesus says, “You do not know me or my Father.”  Jesus is pointing out that because of sin, they are unable to know God, and have become unable to understand the savior sent by God.  We can see that the Jews have become blinded by the darkness that was brought on by human sins. 

Also, please look at verse 21.  Here, Jesus told the Jews, you will die in your sin.  That is, Jesus declared the solemn fact that as long as they are with sin, they cannot go where Jesus is going, that is they cannot go to heaven.

Please look at verse 20.  We see that Jesus was speaking to the Jews near the offering box in the temple.  Next to the offering box was a big lantern that was lit.  It was a symbol of God leading the Jews with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, lighting the way and protecting the Jews when they escaped out of Egypt led by Moses.  When they saw the light, they remembered that God is the one who protects and guides them.  Because of that, too, I think Jesus taught in this place that he came to this world to bring hope. 

Jesus came to bring light to the dark world of sin.  There is only anxiety and paranoia in darkness, there is no peace or hope there.  On the other hand, light gives assurance and hope.  Also, illuminates things that are hidden by darkness.  Jesus is not only pointing out the sins of the Jews, but also teaching that he came as the Savior to bring the light of hope that is forgiveness of sins.  That is the first thing Jesus taught in today’s passage.

Continuing on, please look at verse 31.  It says that upon hearing the teachings of Jesus, many believed him.  However, the fact was, they did not understand his teachings correctly, and had not believed Jesus in the true sense.  So, Jesus started to teach them again.  He pointed out that humans were slaves to sin, and that meant being under the rule of the devil.  That is, he explains the reason why this world is darkness.  This is the second thing Jesus talks about in today’s passage.

I will read verses 34 and 38.  Please look in your Bibles.

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin

Verse 38.

38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”

What Jesus says here is that since humans are born from sinners, they have inherited the nature of sin, and are under the rule of sin from birth.  So, they are slaves to sin.  This does not mean that humans cannot do anything good.  It means that those who are born of sinners cannot escape the rule of sin.  Because the Jews considered themselves to be people blessed especially by God, they never even imagined they were under the rule of sin or the devil.  However, Jesus said that all human beings, including the Jews, had sin, and were slaves to sin. 

In fact, the Jews argued, “We have never been slaves of anyone.”  However, that was a great mistake.  The Jews had been ruled by other nations like Egypt many times, and had a history of being slaves.  Also, even Jews, whoever sinned, were slaves to sin.

In verse 44 Jesus says that the devil is a murderer and a liar with no truth in him.  The devil tempts humans, make them sin, and the destination of that sin is certain death.  Indeed, Jesus is talking about the basis of this world being darkness without a glimmer of hope. 

To this point that Jesus made, the Jews bared their intense fury.  Looking at verse 48, they slander Jesus by saying, “You are a Samaritan and demon-possessed.”  Samaritans were a people of mixed race between Jews and Gentiles, and Jews fiercely disliked them, and looked down on them.   Of course, it was an arrogant attitude without looking at their own sins.  It was also racist in that the Jews looked down on them just for being Samaritans.  Looking down on people, presuming they are bad, judging them, slandering them without even trying to find out the truth of the others’ claims, the Jews unwittingly sinned, and proved that they were truly slaves to sin.  We see the power of the devil, the strength of the dominance of sin. 

Even so, Jesus consistently invited them to believe him as the Savior.  If they believed in him, they would never walk in darkness, but have the light of life, he promises in verse 12.  So, follow me, he strongly encourages them.  That is the third thing Jesus says. 

If we trust in this promise of Jesus in verse 12, the light of his truth will illuminate our sins and make us aware of our sins.  It also gives us hope that our sins will be forgiven by Jesus, and that we will surely go to heaven one day.  It means that in this way, we would be able to walk in the light of grace and hope from God.

Moving on, I will also read verse 51.

51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.

Obey my word means to trust in what Jesus says, and obey the encouragement to believe Jesus as the Savior.  If one does so, it is promised that they would never see death, that is, be given everlasting life. 

Jesus is patiently teaching the Jews that this is the only way to be free from being slaves to sin brought on by the devil. 

Now, the last thing Jesus talks about in today’s Scripture passage is the basis for Jesus being the Savior.

In today’s passage, Jesus says that he is the “I am” three times.  Verses 24, 28, and 58.

“I am” is the name of God.  That is, Jesus is clearly saying that he is God himself. 

When Jesus told the Jews to believe he is the “I am” in verse 24, the Jews asked Jesus again in verse 25, “Who are you?”

It was not a question they asked playing dumb, but they were furious towards Jesus calling himself God.  They found it difficult to swallow or accept the works and teachings of Jesus.  I think their hearts had hardened because of sin.  That is why Jesus said once again in verse 28 that he himself was the “I am,” and predicted that they would know it when Jesus died on the cross.  Furthermore, when Jesus was asked by the Jews, if he had seen Abraham, Jesus replied, “before Abraham was born, I am!”  It is in verse 58.

Jesus made it clear in this way that he is God himself, but to the end, the Jews could not understand that Jesus was God and the Savior.  Looking at verse 59, they tried to stone him.  Jesus escaped, leaving the temple. 

We have looked at today’s passage summed up in four things Jesus said. 

What can we learn from today’s passage?  It is the importance of remaining in Christ who is the light, being grateful for his grace. 

As the light of the world, Christ showed how deep a darkness we are in.  He also illuminated the sins in us, and showed us the necessity of being saved by God from the punishment of sins. 

If Jesus hadn’t come as the light, we would not have realized the darkness in our hearts that is sin.  We would not have realized we were in darkness, either.  Not being able to find a purpose in life, or even if we thought we did, it would have been empty, only lasting in this world.  I don’t think we would have even gotten assurance if we were really going in the way we wanted to.  And no matter how much we made an effort to live right, in the end, because of the punishment for sins, there was no other way but for us to go into everlasting destruction without any rewards. 

When we think about it in that way, we begin to realize God’s grace, the greatness of Jesus’ light, of how deep a darkness we were saved from.  Should we not be much more aware of how we were given the light of life, that our sins were forgiven by the light of Jesus, the wonderfulness of having our way of life changed to how God wills it day by day aiming for Jesus’ light, and the grace of God’s love and mercy? 

Still, not everything in our lives are things we can be thankful about.  We have been battling the unseen threat of the COVID-19 virus at present.  Continual self-restraint and anxiety; the fact is, it’s really taxing.  However, we can pray to God.  We are able to receive encouragement and comfort from God’s Word.  We are no longer able to interact freely with other people, and the phrase, “remote fatigue” has come into use, but the fact is, even remotely, we are able to interact face to face.  We are able to have fellowship free of charge in a new way that was inconceivable a few years back.  God prepared a way for us to have joy and encouragement of fellowship using new technology.  When you think about it that way, are there not many more things we could be thankful about?

Recently, I once again experienced the wonderfulness of being saved from the punishment for sins.  It was when my predecessors in faith passed away.  Recently, some of them have been called up to heaven one after another.  Even though they are in heaven, I miss them very much.  Their families all the more so, I think.   

I received great encouragement from hearing what they had said during their battle with illnesses.  I heard that they had said, “Because I believe Jesus, even though death feels really close, I feel no fear or anxiety.”  Another person, encouraged by a family member, “God, Jesus, is with you so it’s okay,” said, “Yes, that is so.  Thank you,” I heard.  I realized that these two predecessors in faith had firmly grasped deep in their hearts the peace and hope of heaven received from Jesus, and felt as though I had once again been taught that this is the great grace, encouragement, and light of hope that we Christians have been given.   

I think the hope for heaven that Jesus gave us is a greater blessing than we realize.  I think we should spend more time thinking about it.  It is important to take time in our day or week to think about God’s grace and mercy, from where we were saved. 

Also, important in remaining in Christ who is our light, is the confession of sins.  I will read 1 John 1:7 and 9.

7 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, purifies us from all sin.

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

They are familiar words.  They are familiar, but even when we become aware of our sins, rather than confessing right away, do we not tend to put it off?  And oftentimes we forget them.  When we do so repeatedly, that becomes a habit.  That we notice our sins means that Jesus is shedding light on that sin, and is waiting for us to confess that sin.  It is not enough for us to notice our sins.  It is important for us to confess to God that sin our attention has been drawn to, and be forgiven.  Let’s make it our habit to confess right away the sins we are made aware of, and walk in the light.  Confessing our sins is a chance for us to think about our salvation by the cross of Jesus, and forgiveness of sins.  It is a time to be reminded of how God loves us so much so as to sacrifice Jesus even though we were so sinful and heading for destruction.  Even though they are familiar words, it is pretty difficult to put into practice as a habit.  It is because we are still now living in a world ruled by darkness.  Let us rely on God, and walk in the light of Jesus. 

Let’s pray.

God, we thank you that Jesus came as the light of the world and became the sacrifice for our sins.  Also, God, you guided us to salvation and gave us assurance and hope for heaven.  Thank you so much.  Please guide us so that we could set aside time to think more about your love and grace.  Let’s pray to God now in our own words. 

(individual prayer time) 

God, you illuminate our sins by the light of Jesus, making us notice our sins.  When we notice our sins, please help us in confessing that sin immediately to you.  And guide us so that we may experience the grace of being cleansed of all evil.  Let’s pray now in our own words.

(individual prayer time) 

Jesus came to this world as the light of the world.  It was to make us realize we humans have sins, and that it is necessary for us to be saved from the punishment for sins.  Jesus wishes to give all humans salvation and to give assurance and hope of heaven where there is no death. 

What is sin that we humans have?  Even if we don’t steal things, or kill anyone, Jesus pointed out that all humans have sin before God.  Lying, judging people by one’s own values, living thinking we don’t need God, are considered sins. 

If one ends their life in this world still with those sins, the Bible teaches that they have to go into everlasting destruction where there is no love of God or even a glimmer of hope. 

That is why Jesus came to this world as the light in order to solve that problem of human sins.  Jesus Christ died on the cross in order to forgive our sins, and to take away the punishment for sins.  Jesus promises that if we believe that Jesus Christ is the savior who became the sacrifice of one’s punishment for sins, they would be given the light of life, and would never walk in darkness and surely go into heaven.  Those of you who first heard about Jesus today, Jesus is telling you to believe him as your savior.  Just by believing Jesus Christ, your sins will be forgiven, and you will be given eternal life that goes on into heaven.

I will pray a prayer now to believe Jesus Christ.  Those of you who wish to believe Jesus, please pray with me.  Those of you watching on the internet, too, please join us.  I will pray in short segments.  You do not have to pray out loud.  Please pray after me in your hearts.  Let’s pray.

“Heavenly God  /  Before you  / I realize I too, have sins.  /  The reason Jesus Christ /  went on the cross  /  was to forgive me  /  of my sins  /  I thank you.  /   I believe today   /  that Jesus Christ  /  is my savior.  /  Amen” 

I think there are people who prayed this prayer to believe Jesus with me now.  You have been given eternal life just now.  Please continue coming to worship at our church.  Let’s deepen our understanding of how wonderful the assurance and hope for heaven is from the Bible together.