“Jesus is the Light”
Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. These words are found in Isaiah chapter 9 verse 2: <The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of darknesss a light has shined.> Matthew then referred to those words in Matthew chapter 4. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to sit in a world of darkness? Oh, we can imagine it physically, when the power goes out or when the sun goes down. But what about spiritual darkness; can you imagine what it is like to live in a spiritually darkened world? Well, evidently that was the case, according to Isaiah and to Matthew. People's eyes were closed, or darkened, to the light of the Lord. They were blinded to what the Savior of the world had to offer. They were unaware of the love, salvation and gift of life they could receive. And part of Jesus’ ministry was about opening the eyes of such people. He came to offer Himself as the light of the world, so we do not have to sit in spiritual darkness. And that is some really good news. It is something we all need. We need the eyes of our lives to be opened up to the light of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. When they are, we will experience the many blessings He has to offer. In today's lesson, we will look at another one of Jesus' familiar statements. In fact, He refers to Himself, on several occasions, as the Light of the world, and they are all important and worthy of our consideration and study. For the next few minutes, we will focus on that Light. I hope you will join us as we now open up our hearts and our Bibles and study together.
Have you heard the stories or have you seen the pictures about the state of Alaska? Well, certain times during the year, the state is covered in darkness during the night and during most of the day. In other times of the year, Alaska is full of light during the day and during most of the night. Oh, it would be interesting to live in Alaska. But to either live in darkness or light is difficult for many people. Well, that reminds me of a statement Jesus made in the gospel of John chapter 8, about a light that is always shining. Before we get, however, to John chapter 8, I want us to notice what is happening in the previous chapter, John 7. Jesus is speaking to a group of people in the city of Jerusalem. And some of them were convinced that He was the Son of God. They were His followers. They listened to His teaching. They were fed miraculously. Jesus healed them of various sicknesses and diseases. Yes, they believed that Jesus was God's Son. But others were confused by Jesus’ teaching and they rejected Him. For example, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law refused to believe almost everything He had to say. They did not believe that He had come from the Father in heaven. In fact, they so opposed Jesus they had a group of people arrest Him, in John 7, and put Him into prison. Well, all of that was taking place during a celebration which was called the Feast of the Tabernacles. Now this was one of three feasts that God commanded the Jews to celebrate every year. Now, this Feast of the Tabernacles, or the Feast of the Booths, as it is called, reminded the Israelites of how their for-fathers were delivered by God, out of Egyptian captivity. It was a time where they came together and they celebrated and they rejoiced and they remembered the goodness and the providence of God from years gone by; and this feast is still celebrated by many Jews, today. Well, during this feast there was a certain tradition that went along with it. It was called the lighting ceremony, and four large lamps were lit in the court of women, which was near the temple located in the heart of Jerusalem. And a joyful celebration took place during the night. Other people would come and bring their torches or their lamps, as well, and all of the light was shining in the darkness of that night, during the Feast of the Tabernacles. Well, it was during this feast, during this occasion, where Jesus made this statement, in John 8 and verse 12: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”> This is one of what we call the seven “I am” statements that are found in the gospel of John. Oftentimes in His teaching, Jesus would begin His words by saying “I am,” and then fill in the blank with something with which the people could relate. He would say, for example, “I am the bread of life,” or, “I am the great physician,” or, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” And on this occasion, He said, “I am the light of the world;” and by saying that Jesus is pointing to His role as the Messiah, or the Son of God. The passage found in Isaiah 60, beginning with verse 19 and going through verse 22, looked to a time when there would be a Messiah that would come and He would be a light and a Savior for God's people. Well, not only that, but Jesus would come as the Messiah into the world to be a light to the whole world; and that is mentioned in Isaiah chapter 42 and chapter 49, and also in Zachariah chapter 14. Well, what happened on this occasion, in John 7 and John 8, during the Feast of the Tabernacles, was a fulfillment of that Old Testament prophecy. It represented that Jesus had now come as the Messiah. He had come to the earth to represent God and to be a light to all people. Let's look at another passage that says something very similar. This one was written by John. It’s found in the gospel of John chapter 1. Notice these words: <In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.> In this passage, John is referring to Jesus as the Word. The Word was with God in the beginning, and He was a part of everything that was made. And the Word (Jesus) had come to shine light upon the people, upon the world, and to provide for them a way where they could enter into a relationship with God. And indeed, Jesus’ ministry brought real and meaningful light to the people. He was the light in the midst of their dark world. And through His word, people could find a relationship with God. Well, in spite of so many people opposing Jesus as the light, that light would not be put out throughout His public ministry. Oh, on occasion it was dismissed. On occasion it was rejected. But the light of Jesus was always there shining upon the people. And John referred to Jesus as that light several times throughout his gospel message. And even though Jesus referred to Himself as the Light of the world, many continued to reject Him. Many people continued to live in darkness. Their unbelief of, and their hatred for Jesus Christ was ever present throughout His ministry. Yes, they rejected Him as the source of true spiritual light. Well, Jesus made some other statements along that same line. Listen to these words in John chapter 9. Before He healed a man who was born blind, this is what He said, in verses 4 and 5: <”We must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”> Once He said that He healed the man who had never before seen. And as He did that Jesus simply illustrated what He meant in a physical way, by being the light of the world in a spiritual way. Here's another statement from Jesus, found in John chapter 12 beginning with verse 35. <“You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become the children of light.”> Jesus came to offer light so people could see where they were going. He did not want them to stumble in the darkness. He did not want them to get lost in the ways of Satan or in the ways of the world and so He provided this option for them. However, He lets the people know there was coming a time when that light would be put out; and indeed, that time came. Jesus was crucified on the cross and buried in a tomb, and then He rose victoriously from the grave. But after His ministry continued for a number of days after that, He finally ascended back to His Father in heaven. Yes, the opportunity for them to physically see and believe in Jesus Christ would soon come to pass. Well, there is something else here in this John chapter 8 passage we cannot overlook. We know there in verse 12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world,” but we sometimes forget, or overlook, what He said next. “He who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus invited people to not only recognize Him as the Light of the world, but to also follow Him. He invited the people to walk in His footsteps, to move away from walking in darkness and to move toward following Him, to noticing the kind of life He lived and to use that as an example for their life. Yes, Jesus invited people to obey His teaching and to move from simply being a distant follower, to becoming a faithful disciple. Today it might be rather easy for us to say, “Well, I believe that Jesus is the Light of the world.” The challenge, however, comes when we need to put that into practice; when we need to say, “Okay, I believe Jesus is the light of the world and I'm going to act upon my faith and then live like it.” Well, that comes by making some adjustments in what we believe or what we say, where we go or even what we do. And yet it all comes down to a matter of eliminating that which opposes the light, as we avoid the darkness of this world. Well, there were others besides John who recognized Jesus as the light. We think about the writer, Matthew. He quotes a passage, in Matthew chapter 4 verse 16, which comes from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah; words found in Isaiah 9, verse 2: <Leaving Nazareth, He went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali -to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles- the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”> Matthew knew the words from Isaiah, and he includes them here in his gospel, referring to Jesus, that Jesus came and He went to the Northern shore of the Sea of Galilee into a place called Capernaum and beyond, and there He encountered many people who were sitting in spiritual darkness, sitting perhaps in the shadow of death, and He provided light to those people. Yes, Jesus came in His ministry to guide people and to show them a better way. And one who walked in His light, who walked in His footsteps, would be able to avoid that spiritual darkness. Yes, for those whose lives were filled with darkness, for those who felt as if they had no hope for their lives, Jesus opened up their eyes. The same is true, even still today, that there may be times when we feel like we are like those people around the town of Capernaum and beyond the Jordan. And we have no light for our lives. We have no hope for the future. We find ourselves sitting in spiritual darkness, perhaps even in the shadow of death. And we long for a better way to live. We long for a different direction to pursue. And more than anything else, we need the light of the Lord in order to show us the way out. Well, Jesus’ statement, “I am the light of the world,” identified Him as God's representative here upon this earth. Jesus had the authority to forgive sin and to raise people from the dead and to even bring others into the family of God. Yes, in many and various ways, Jesus provided spiritual light to those who sat in darkness. A moment ago I mentioned the Pharisees. They were the religious leaders of the day. And instead of working with Jesus, they opposed Jesus. Oh, they saw Him as a threat. The Pharisees liked to be in control of people's spiritual lives. They made sure that everybody was obeying the commands that they found in the Law. They even added some commands to that; and yet, the Pharisees themselves did not keep them. And so they saw Jesus as one who would take away their followers and encourage them to follow Him. And so there was a constant battle and constant opposition between the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law with Jesus. Oh, they did not believe any of the claims He made. They did not believe that He was the Son of God. And that caused a great deal of problems. Jesus had this to say about them, in John chapter 3 and verse 19: <“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their works were evil.”> Yes, the minds of these Pharisees and teachers of the Law we're filled with evil. And that not only applied to them but also to those who did not believe in Him. And as a result, the people were not able to overcome that darkness. They could not see that Jesus indeed was the light of the world. And that was a message that John, and so many others, tried to communicate to their audience about Jesus and His ministry. Well, there's also something else about those Israelites leaving Egyptian captivity. As they walked through the wilderness for some 40 years, they were led by God to the Promised Land. And as He led them in all of their wanderings, He did so by a cloud during the day and by a pillar of fire, or light, during the night. And those who followed that cloud and who followed that fire made it to the land of Canaan. And yet those who continued to rebel and to oppose God and to live any way they wanted to live, they never entered into the Land of Promise, that was so filled with God's many blessings. Well, like those Israelites of old, we too have some choices to make. Will we believe in Jesus as the Light and follow Him and obey His teaching? Will we experience the Light that leads to that eternal relationship with our Father in heaven? Or, will we continue to live in a world of darkness? The apostle Paul described the light of Jesus this way, in 2nd Corinthians chapter 4, beginning with verse 4: <The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.> The god of this age, Satan, as Paul describes him here, is still at work. Yes, he is blinding the eyes of those who are seeking for and needing the light of Jesus Christ. And he is doing absolutely everything he can to keep people in darkness and to prevent them from experiencing the light of Jesus. Oh, we experience many forms of that darkness every day. There is political and social unrest. There are issues and ideas that divide nations. People everywhere are being hurt and abused and overlooked and neglected. Oh, there are so many things in this world which are not right. Yes, Satan is at work. Many solutions are offered and some of them work, to overcome the evil and the darkness which seems to be all around us. And yet the real solution to all darkness, no matter what it might be, can only be found in Jesus Christ. So the question we ask ourselves is, will I be content to live in a darkened world, or will I experience the light of Jesus Christ and “The Way” that He offers me today? Yes, we live in a dark world, it might be so geographically or socially or spiritually. In fact, you might live in a place where darkness fills your heart, and there is very little room or recognition for the light of Jesus. You might be dwelling in darkness, in one way or another; your mind might even be closed to the light. But the good news is, the same message Jesus proclaimed some 2000 years ago is still available for us today. He is the Messiah, the One who has come from God, the One who fulfills prophecy and the One who now offers the light of salvation to every person on the face of this earth. Some of the most amazing words Jesus ever spoke are right here in John 8, verse 12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” I would encourage and invite you, today, to experience the light of Jesus; and to know that as you do, there are many blessings and promises that are waiting for you in a relationship with Him.
Have you ever been inside of a lighting store to buy some fixtures for your home or perhaps some bulbs for your place of business or where you work? You know, I suppose we have all had that experience at one time or another. And, as we do that, we go into a store like this one and we find all kinds of options. There are many fixtures that might work for our particular need. There are small bulbs that will light a small home or a small room in our home. And then there are some great big bulbs that will perhaps light an entire parking lot. Yes, there are all kinds of fixtures and light bulbs in such a lighting store. We have all kinds of options. And that's what this store is for, to meet our needs. Well, sometimes we need some light for our spiritual lives, as well, and Jesus invites us to follow Him. He tells us in the gospel of John chapter 8, that He is the Light of the world and in Him there is no darkness. And that's good to know, isn't it; because sometimes we might find ourselves sitting in the midst of spiritual darkness. Our world, spiritually, is dark. And we don't know where to go or how to get there, and we're confused and it's awkward: so, we need a new direction. We need some hope, some encouragement. And Jesus tells us: In Me you will find the light; In Me you will find that direction and that second chance and that new opportunity. That certainly is encouraging! The next time we need some light for our physical homes, we can come to a place like this. Next time we need some light for our spiritual lives, let us remember, we can find it in Jesus; and that in Him there is no darkness.
Thank you for being our guests today on “Key to the Kingdom.” It is good to know that Jesus is the Light of the world and that through Him we can have the gift of eternal life. I do hope all of us will keep our eyes focused on Jesus, as He points the way to our Heavenly Father. Our website, keytothekingdom.com, offers many resources for your consideration. I hope you'll take a few minutes to review them. Previous messages are available to download in several different formats. One and two minute devotional thoughts are uploaded regularly. Bible study lessons and current reports on our ministry in India are there, as well. None of these items require a commitment or a cost of any kind. We simply offer them to assist you in your own personal study and daily walk with the Lord. By calling the phone number on the screen, you can leave a message or comment which will be returned very soon. I invite you to follow us on Facebook®, as well. Weekly posts are made every Sunday night, and many people are being encouraged by them. Our desire is to make good use of the many media options which are available. I hope you will find and follow our ministry in one way or another. In closing, let me say thank you for being our guest today, and I trust you were encouraged by the message. I now invite you to join us again at this same time next week, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”