SUFFICIENT – LIGHT OF THE WORLD by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC
Introduction: How many of ya’ll have ever been to a cavern? Back in 2009, Nicole and I took our kids on a cross country trip, and we stopped at the Fantastic Caverns near Springfield, Missouri. It’s the only ride through cavern in America. When we got deep into the cavern, the guide told us that he would turn off all the lights. He did, and it was total darkness. I don’t think I’ve ever been in such thick darkness in my life. You could almost cut it with a knife! As you know, we’re in our new series titled “Sufficient,” answering “How is Jesus sufficient for us?” To answer that, we are looking at the 7 “I am” statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John. In today’s message, we come to “I am the Light of the World.” Main point:Jesus is the Light of the World. When we find ourselves worn down by life’s journey, he refreshes us. He fills us with joy and gladness. He quenches our every thirst. He lifts us up when we feel broken, and he gives us his vision for life.
John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
Context: As I mentioned last time, when people come to such passages, they think of the object that Jesus compared himself to in today’s terms. They think of the many kinds of lights and the many benefits of light. Although, there can be some wonderful insights gained from just generally discussing light, this is not the best way to get the true message of Jesus’ statement— “I am the light of the world.” Instead, we must ask: What did he mean by that statement in its original context? How did the people who were listening to him understand it? Why did the apostle John include it in his gospel?
To start with, don’t forget that when Jesus made the statements with the words “I am,” the Jewish people heard the name of God. Even though the Rabbis talked about the Messiah bringing the actual presence of God, when Jesus claimed deity, the Jewish leaders rejected him. Some even tried to stone him, but Jesus didn’t recant.
Application: What do you believe about Jesus? Again, as C. S. Lewis put it (paraphrase), “Jesus is a liar, lunatic, or Lord. You have to pick.”
Now, to understand the true meaning of Jesus’ statement, “I am the Light of the World,” we have to back up to the beginning of this entire discourse to John 7 2“Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand…14 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught.” Just as the Feast of the Passover was the background of the Bread of Life discourse, the Feast of the Tabernacles was the background of the Light of the World discourse. But, let me warn you. As we study the background, the light aspect will not be quickly noticed; but as we move further along in the message, it will begin to make sense. Most of us know about the Feast of the Passover, but I doubt many of us know about the Feast of the Tabernacles. Keep in mind that the Jewish people had many feasts but only 3 of them were the pilgrimage feasts (one had to go to Jerusalem for them): Feast of the Passover/Unleavened Bread, Feast of the Weeks/Pentecost/First Fruits, and the Feast of the Tabernacles/Booths/Sukkot. This last one was a seven-day feast starting on the 15th day to the 21st day of the seventh month (our September-October). It marked the end of the religious calendar that began with the Passover. According to God’s command to his people in Leviticus 23, they were to make simple tents out of leaves and branches, and they were to live in them for 7 days. Why? Leviticus 23:43 “that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” In other words, this was to remind them of their time in the wilderness when they lived in booths and made their way through the dangerous desert. It was not a safe or a comfortable time, but God had protected them from the constant threats of natural hazards, wild animals, and enemy tribes from every side and had brought them safely to the land that he had promised them. In other words, God had been faithful to them, and he wanted every generation to remember that each year and be grateful.
Application: Do you take the time to give thanks to God for where he has brought you from?
Not only that but it was also a time to give thanks for the harvest and pray for rain. If rain fell during this time, it was “an assurance of abundant early rains, so necessary for fertile crops for the following year” (Raymond Brown). In time, this festival became associated with the “day of the Lord.” It reflected their longing for the coming of the Messiah. Listen to Jesus’ declaration during the feast. John 7 28 Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, “You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. 29 But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me.” The people believed in him, but the Pharisees wanted to arrest him. In other words, he was the true tabernacle of God. The reason they were safe in the booths was because he was in the booth with them! The word is “skenopegia” for tabernacle or “skene” for dwelling. Hebrews 9:11 “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.” Revelation 21 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.”
Application: Are you in Christ your tabernacle? If you are in him, you are safe? Colossians 3:3 “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
During the feast, there was another tradition that became part of the festival. Every day of the festival, the priests would lead a procession with water taken from the Pool of Siloam and head to the temple. The people would be behind them waving the lulab (branches), carrying citrus, and singing psalms like Psalm 118. The priests would then take the golden pitcher and pour the water on the altar. It was a Messianic expectation found in Ezekiel 47 1 Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. 2 He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side. Zechariah 14 8 And in that day it shall be That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, Half of them toward the eastern sea And half of them toward the western sea; In both summer and winter it shall occur. 9 And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be— “The LORD is one,” And His name one.
Listen to what Jesus did. John 7 37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Can you imagine the commotion and the contempt for this preacher from Galilee for disrupting a solemn, sacred, and time-honored tradition!
Application: Are you parched with the struggles of life? Only Jesus can quench your thirst. Our culture is parched and trying everything. Jesus truly refreshes us.
Something else would happen on each of those days of the Feast of the Tabernacles. It was the lighting of the four large lampstands in the Court of the Women. It symbolized the pillar of fire by night, God’s presence with his people. What is significant is that this was in the Court of the Women! Listen to John 8 2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. 7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Then he said in verse 12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
The irony of the situation was that the lampstands were lit in the Court of the Women and they were using a woman to test Jesus! Instead, he became the true light that dispels the darkness and lifts up the broken!
Application: Have you experienced the exposing and sanctifying light of Jesus?
There is one more time Jesus is going to claim to be the light of the world. John 9 1 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. 4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. 7 And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.
Jesus is the Light of the World. When we find ourselves worn down by life’s journey, he refreshes us. He fills us with joy and gladness. He quenches our every thirst. He lifts us up when we feel broken, and he gives us his vision for life.
Invitation: Have you met the Light of the World? He comes to bring Joy and Gladness in your life. He truly refreshes us. He exposes but sanctifies. He gives us his vision for life. Are you saved?