What is light for? To show us the way, to keep us from stumbling and falling, to dispel our fears, to show us something clearly. That is exactly what we find Jesus wants to do in our lives every moment of every day. He wants to be the light of our path we walk through life. The question is do we know that and are we following the path He is lighting. Remember, twenty-three times in all we find our Lord’s meaningful “I AM” in the Greek text of this gospel (4:26; 6:20,35,41,48,51; 8:12,18,24,28,58; 10:7,9,11,14; 11:25; 13:19; 14:6; 15:1,5; 18:5,6,8). In several of these, He joins His “I AM” with seven tremendous metaphors, which are expressive of His saving relationship toward the world. IN other words, the Christian life may be described in these seven declarations of Jesus.
The Christian life is:
- HUNGERING FOR JESUS AS MY BREAD OF LIFE.“I AM the Bread of life” (6:35,41,48,51).
- WALKING WITH JESUS WHO LIGHTS MY PATH OF LIFE.“I AM the Light of the world” (8:12).
- ENTERING THROUGH JESUS WHO IS MY DOOR TO LIFE.“I AM the Door of the sheep” (10:7,9).
- FOLLOWING THE GOOD SHEPHERD WHO IS THE SAVIOR OF MY LIFE.“I AM the Good Shepherd” (10:11,14).
- RESTING IN JESUS WHOSE RESURRECTION GAVE ME ENDLESS LIFE.“I AM the Resurrection and the Life” (11:25).
- FOLLOWING THE WAY OF JESUS, BELIEVING THE TRUTH OF JESUS, AND LIVING THE LIFE OF JESUS. “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (14:6).
- ABIDING IN JESUS WHO IS MY SUPPLY OF ALL I EVER NEED.“I am the true Vine” (15:1,5). Psalm 92
Please join me as we read our text this morning John 7:1-2; 8:1-12.
This second time in the Gospel by John we find Jesus introducing Himself as He says – I AM THE LIGHT OF WORLD (8:12) – He LIGHTS OUR DARKENED SOULS, but apart from Him is only impenetrable darkness. He invites us to a life WALKING WITH JESUS WHO LIGHTS MY PATH OF LIFE. “I AM the Light of the world” (8:12).
In this passage Jesus1 makes the great claim: “I am the Light of the World.” It is very likely that the background against which he made it made it doubly vivid and impressive. The festival with which John connects these discourses is the Festival of Tabernacles (John 7:2). We have already seen (John 7:37) how its ceremonies lent drama to Jesus’ claim to give to men the living water. But there was another ceremony connected with this festival.
On the evening of its first day there was a ceremony called The Illumination of the Temple. It took place in the Court of the Women. The court was surrounded with deep galleries, erected to hold the spectators. In the centre four great candelabra were prepared. When the dark came the four great candelabra were lit and, it was said, they sent such a blaze of light throughout Jerusalem that every courtyard was lit up with their brilliance. Then all night long, until cockcrow the next morning, the greatest and the wisest and the holiest men in Israel danced before the Lord and sang psalms of joy and praise while the people watched. Jesus is saying: “You have seen the blaze of the Temple illuminations piercing the darkness of the night. I am the Light of the World, and, for the man who follows me there will be light, not only for one exciting night, but also for all the pathway of his life. The light in the Temple is a brilliant light, but in the end it flickers and dies. I am the Light which lasts for ever.”
SO, WHAT DOES WALKING WITH JESUS DO IN OUR LIFE? ONE SPECIAL REALITY IS THAT JESUS LIGHTS THE PATH OF MY LIFE WITH GOD’S PROVIDENCE2
On November 8, 1994, Pastor Scott Willis and his wife, Janet, were traveling with six of their nine children on Highway 1-94 near Milwaukee when a piece of metal fell off the truck ahead of them. Scott had no choice but to let the object pass under his vehicle; the result was that the rear gas tank exploded and five of the six Willis children died instantly in the flames. The sixth child, Benjamin, died a few hours later. Scott and Janet were able to get out of the vehicle, sustaining burns from which they would later recover. Standing there watching their children die in the fire, Scott said to Janet, “This is the moment for which we are prepared.”
The courage of this couple was reported throughout the United States and the world. Christ walked with them through the deep sorrows of this tragedy. With a little bit of ingenuity we could identify a dozen “if onlys.” After all, this accident would not have happened unless a number of circumstances had converged at the right time and the right place.
Listen to the conversation at almost any funeral and you will hear some “if onlys.”
“if only we had called the doctor sooner. ..”
“if only there would not have been ice on the highway”…
“if only we had noticed the lump sooner. ..”
“if only they had operated. ..”
“if only they had not operated. ..”
Let me encourage you to take those “if onlys” and draw a circle around them. Then label the circle, “The providence of God. The Christian believes that God is greater than our “if onlys.” His providential hand encompasses the whole of our lives, not just the good days but the “bad” days too. We have the word accident in our vocabulary; He does not.
WHAT DOES SOMEONE WHO WALKS THROUGH LIFE WITH JESUS LIGHTING THEIR PATH ACT LIKE IN TRAGEDY?
Here is a great example, at the age of twenty-six, Lina Sandell Berg was accompanying her father aboard a ship across Lake Vattern in Sweden en route to the city of Gothenburg. The ship unexpectedly gave a sudden lurch and Lina’s father, a devout Christian, fell overboard and drowned before the eyes of his devoted daughter. From her broken heart she wrote a song that many of us have often sung. As you read the words, find all the lines that affirm Lina’s confidence that her father died within the protection and loving care of God. Turn with me to her testimony # 56
Day by day and with each passing moment, Strength I find to meet my trials here; Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment, I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure Gives unto each day what He deems best- Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure, Mingling toil with peace and rest
Every day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me, He whose name is Counselor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“ As thy days, your strength shall be in measure,” This the pledge to me He made.
Remarkably, Lina had confidence that the death of her father, which many would simply ascribe to the random fate of a wind-blown ship, died under God’s loving care. She could write, “The protection of His child and treasure, / Is a charge that on Himself He laid.” Far from seeing this incident as a cruel oversight on God’s part, she saw in her father’s death an expression of loving protection! On the human side, he died because of the unexpected high wave; on the divine side, he died because God wanted him home. As the time of our death approaches we can take comfort from the example of someone who parted the curtain and returned to tell us what to expect on the other side. Christ is our best example of how to face that final hour that most assuredly will come to us all. He died so that we could die triumphantly.
Later in life reflecting back on this trauma Lina wrote another (Hymn #44) testimony, “Children of the Heavenly Father”.
1 Children of the Heav’nly Father Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in heaven Such a refuge e’er was given.
2 God His own doth tend and nourish; In His holy courts they flourish.
From all evil things He spares them; In His mighty arms He bares them.
3 Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth, And their sorrows all He knoweth.
4 Praise the Lord in joyful numbers; Your Protector never slumbers,
At the will of your Defender Ev’ry foeman must surrender.
5 Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.
Our future existence is not in the hands of doctors, nor in the hands of disease, nor in the hands of the drunk who runs into our car along the highway. Our life is in the hands of the Almighty , who can use any means He wishes, including the above, to have us brought into the heavenly gates. Perhaps today our name will be called. God just wants you and me to trust Him enough to follow Jesus who is the light that illumines the path of life for us!
The Scriptures have so much to say about TRUSTING GOD:
First time in Scriptures Ruth 2:12 The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. (KJV)
In the lives of God’s saints 2 Samuel 22:3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. (KJV) 2 Samuel 22:31 As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him. (KJV) II K 18:20-30 [trust 5x]; 1 Chronicles 5:20 And they were helped against them, and the Hagarites were delivered into their hand, and all that were with them: for they cried to God in the battle, and he was intreated of them; because they put their trust in him. (KJV)
- UNWAVERING HOPE Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. (KJV)
- BLESSED Psalm 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (KJV)
- SECURE Psalm 4:5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD. (KJV)
- JOFFULPsalm5:11Butletallthosethatputtheirtrustintheerejoice:letthemever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. (KJV)
- DELIVEREDPsalm7:1ShiggaionofDavid,whichhesanguntotheLORD, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite.>> O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me: (KJV)
- CONFIDENT Psalm 9:10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. (KJV)
- FIRMLYPLANTEDPsalm11:1TothechiefMusician,APsalmofDavidInthe LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? (KJV)
- KEPT Psalm 16:1 Michtam of David.>> Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust. (KJV)
- PROTECTED Psalm 17:7 Shew thy marvelous loving-kindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. (KJV)
- STRONG SECURITY Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. (KJV) Psalm 18:30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. (KJV)
- ULTIMATE VICTORY Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. (KJV)
- VINDICATION Psalm 25:2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. (KJV) Psalm 25:20 O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee. (KJV)
- DIRECTION Psalm 31:1, 6, 30 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.>> In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness. I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD. (KJV) Psalm 31:19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! (KJV)
- FRUITFUL Psalm 34:22 The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate. (KJV)
- SHELTERED Psalm 36:7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. (KJV)
- SATISFIED Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 40 And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him. (KJV)
- SETTLED Psalm 40:3-4 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.4 Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. (KJV)
How is your walk? Is it in Christ’s light? That is how we make it through life and day by day!
SOWING TO THE FLESH IS PURSUING WHAT GOD SAYS IS PASSING AWAY.
1 John 2:15-17? 15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
Wrong hungers will always follow one or all of these three pathways:
- Lust of the Flesh is INDULGENCE: I need, I deserve, I will have…
- Lust of the Eyes is INDIFFERENCE: what I can see and do now is more important than Heaven…
- Pride of Life is INDEPENDENCE: I will be my own boss, have financial security, and be dependent upon no one…
SOWING TO THE SPIRIT IS PURSUING WHAT CHRIST3 IS LOOKING FOR
Loving Trials: which is the Joyful Acceptance of Injustice (Matthew 5:11-12, 1 Peter 2:19); Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 1 Peter 2:19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.
Loving Sacrifice: which is Financial Generosity (Matthew 6:19-21); Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Loving Strangers: which is Biblical Hospitality (Matthew 10:40-41, Matthew 18:5);
Loving to restrain our flesh: which is seeking the Spiritual Disciplines (Matthew 6:5) We are rewarded by the person whose praise we seek; prayer, fasting, scripture memory and so on. Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
Loving our lot in life: which is Faithfulness in Our Vocation Put yourself in a time machine and go back two thousand years and imagine that you are one of the 60 million slaves in the roman Empire. You have no rights, no chance for a promotion, no court of appeals. To such, Paul wrote that they should serve their masters and they would serve Christ (Colossians 3:22-24, Philippians 2:8-9, 1 Peter 5:6); Colossians 3:22-24 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. Philippians 2:8-9 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 1 Peter 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
Loving the Unlovable: which is Christlike (Luke 6:27-28); Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
Loving the Truth: which is Doctrinal Integrity (2 John 1-2,4,8); 2 John 1 To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, 2 because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: 4 I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
Loving Ministry: which is Investment in People (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 1 Corinthians 3:6-8); 1 Thessalonians 2:19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 1 Corinthians 3:6-8 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
Loving Jesus: which is Watching for Christ’s Return (Luke 12:35-38, 2 Timothy 4:7); Luke 12:35-38 “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36 and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 38 And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 2 Timothy 4:8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Loving Refinement: which is Acceptance of Suffering (1 Peter 1:7, Hebrews 6:10. 1 Peter 1:7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
Upon hearing of the assassination of John and Betty Stamm in China in 1934, Will Houghton, former president of Moody Bible Institute, wrote these words: So this is life. This world with its pleasures, struggles and tears, a smile, a frown, a sigh, friendship so true and love of kin and neighbor? Sometimes it is hard to live-always to die! The world moves on so rapidly for the living; the forms of those who disappear are replaced, and each one dreams that he will be enduring. How soon that one becomes the missing face! Help me to know the value of these hours. Help me the folly of all waste to see. Help me to trust the Christ who bore my sorrows and thus to yield for life or death to Thee.
1 Barclay, William, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of John – Volume 2 Chapters 8-21 (Revised Edition), (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press) 2000, c1975.
2 Erwin W. Lutzer, One Minute After You Die. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1997, 122-136.
3 Erwin W. Lutzer, Your Eternal Reward. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1998, 87-100.