The Light of the World

Gospel of John #22: An exposition of John 8:12-20. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, April 17, 2011.

It was a bold announcement and it made a some folks uncomfortable.  They were wondering what they had gotten themselves into.  They made a beeline to me immediately after church.  “Do you know what your son did?”  It was our first Sunday at the church and he was in the nursery!  “No, what did he do?”  “It was during play time he stood in the middle of the nursery and shouted, ‘Belly up to the bar boys, drinks are on me.’”  I apologized and said, “That’s my fault, I shouldn’t take him with me.”  Fortunately everyone had a good laugh and I explained he loved watching the Davy Crocket videos and that was a scene from Mike Fink: Riverboat Captain.  But ever since I’ve been leery of public statements.  They can be inflammatory.  They can lead to misunderstanding.  Then again they can be a straightforward declaration of eternal truth.

It was during the “Feast of Booths.”  He had already made one great pronouncement.  Interrupting the water ceremony he declared, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”  That pronouncement caused quite a bit of controversy.  The religious establishment already sought to arrest him.  They were determined to be rid of the trouble-making Galilean.  Now, days later, he is at it again.  This time he is in the temple treasury which is in the Court of Women.  It is here the people come to pay their temple tax.  There are 13 large vessels labeled for the various taxes.  It was a crowded area especially during this mandatory feast.  It was here in the treasury the 2nd great ceremony of the feast took place.  It was called, The Illumination of the Temple.  The ceremony featured four large candelabra.  Every evening the torches would be lit, the temple orchestra would play and righteous men would dance before the flames until dawn.  The light from the torches filled the temple and spilled out into the city of Jerusalem.  It was a glorious sight.  It was meant to symbolize the pillar of fire that led the Israelites during their wilderness wandering.   It was here, before the charred candelabra, that Jesus boldly declared, “I am the light of the world.”  Our text this morning is found in John’s Gospel chapter 8 beginning at verse 12.

Text: John 8:12-20
Booths or Tabernacles is the most popular of the 3 mandatory feasts.
It was in celebration of the grape and olive harvests but also commemorated the wilderness wandering.
Two rituals were at the heart of the celebration.

The first – drawing water from the Pool of Siloam signified the water from the rock in the wilderness.  (Recount the ritual)  This symbolized life and God’s gracious provision.

The second was called The Illumination of the Temple which I described earlier.

What is clear from our text is this…

Thesis: Submission to Christ grants the believer spiritual light while the rejection of Christ dooms the unbeliever to spiritual darkness.

Life and death; light and darkness are themes that run throughout John’s Gospel.  This statement in verse 12 is unmistakeable.  Given the location and context of this statement you would have to work at not understanding it.  This is a bold public declaration of deity.  The days of “laying low” are over.  He had begun his march to the cross.  I want to point out just two things as we look at verses 12-20.

  1. Submission to Christ produces spiritual light and insight.  (8:12) This verse begins with an extraordinary claim.
  2. The second half of verse 12 makes a wonderful promise. The rejection of Christ ensures spiritual darkness.  (8:13-20)

Jesus is the light of the world and you will find light in him or you will not find light at all.  To submit to Christ is to enter into light.  To reject him is to be plunged into eternal darkness.  I plead with you – come to the light.

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