I am the Light of the World – John 8
This message is a part of our series on the Gospel of John.
Find the rest of the messages in this series here.
This happened years ago, but I’ve been too embarrassed to tell the story until now. Our church was laid out during a time that the pastor lived on the North side of the property, so often when he locked up he would walk out that north facing door and go home. I, on the other hand, lived on the south side of the property. All the lights were laid out to be turned off going North. I went south. So I would have to turn off the light and walk through the dark hallway out. One night I walked full speed into the wall at the end of this hallway. I had become confident that I knew how long the hallway was… If you have ever done something like that, walked into something in the dark, walked off of a step you didn’t realize was there, or walked into a glass door you didn’t realize was closed, the emotion you feel in that moment is shock. “What????” Honestly, I was amazed I hadn’t damaged the wall…
Light is a good thing. We are blessed to have light in our homes.
We are dependent upon it. We are so accustomed to it that I bet many of you when your power goes out in a storm that you still find yourself flicking on light switches as you walk into rooms…
In this passage of scripture, Jesus says that He is the light of the World. The light of life.
Read it with me in John 8:12.
Now nothing about that made any of you want to stand up and shout liar, but that’s what happened when Jesus said this. Look at the next verse.
Read John 8:13-16
I love movies and books about time travel, they’ve always fascinated me. Something that I thought about recently is that no time travel book or movie has ever really explored how offensive a person would be in the present if they came from the past or how offensive a person in the present would be if they went into the future-
But you know what I’m talking about right? You’ve hung out with your grandfather and he says something that was completely acceptable 20 years ago, but if you posted it online today you’re picture would be on CNN.
So I think a interesting example of this is the Simpsons. When I was a kid and the Simpsons came out all of my friends were watching it and I wasn’t allowed to watch it.
My parents thought that it was very offensive how the kids on the show talked back to teachers and their parents and the language that used, etc.
Last year, the Simpsons came under fire by a large number of people who were upset about how one of the characters on the show is portrayed….
What was interesting to me about that was that here’s a show that my parents were offended by in 1990, and here 30 years later modern culture is offended by for a totally different set of reasons.
The words of Jesus in this passage are extremely offensive to some of the people. So much so that someone in the crowd stands up and says, “You’re a liar.”
Now it’s very possible that I will offend you today with something that I say, that’s not my goal. It’s not the reason we invited you today, but it’s possible. People will often walk out offended by something I did or didn’t say.
What hasn’t happened, yet, is no one has ever stood up in the middle of a message and yelled, “LIAR!”
What we read might not seem like that big of a deal, but you have to realize that the culture and time that Jesus makes these statements in are very different from where and when we are at today.
Hang with me while I try to transport you back in time to that setting so you can see why that was so offensive to these people.
The reason Jesus is in the Temple is that he is in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles.
A time when the Jewish people would remember how God cared for them as they traveled through the desert.
They didn’t just take a trip with a large family, they went with a whole people group. It was millions of people traveling.
How many of you know that the more people who go on the trip the more complicated it is????
God provided for them. He not only caused them to find food in the middle of the desert, he provided them with water.
He also led them by a pillar of fire…
When the people gathered for this feast, they would celebrate how God fed them and led them.
They would construct these large pillars that were basically large candles. They would light these for the feast and the light would shine on the temple and the city throughout the entire feast.
On top of this, the Jewish people had old songs they would sing at these worship gatherings and feasts.
Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is my light and my salvation
Psalm 119:105 – Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
Psalm 44:3 – Light is God in action
Psalm 36:19 – With you is a fountain of life, in your light we see.
It’s at this feast that Jesus says, I am the light of the world.
The priests are very offended.
Jesus is putting himself into all of their official holidays and rituals… Now we need to think about why they had these rituals.
God had set appointment with the people.
3 feasts for them to attend every year at the temple….
God was setting this appointment so that they didn’t forget and so they would recognize Him when He arrived.
He arrives and says, I’m here!
The irony is that they miss it. The reason they miss it is what Jesus says in the last verses we read.
Jesus says I judge no man on the basis you are judging. You judge after the flesh. They used flesh, the outward for the criteria and flesh, their own cognitive ability to decide.
You’re looking for the wrong things using the a biased or corrupted system.
You’re not only measuring the wrong things, you’re using a broken scale to measure them.
We have a perfect illustration of this in the beginning of John 8.
Look back at the beginning of the chapter with me.
Read John 8:3-11
It has just moved me how Jesus diffuses this situation.
They come in at a very high intensity level. Ready to throw rocks at this woman, literally, and kill her. Stone her.
They had laws and rules.
But Jesus knew their hearts. He knew they were there to test Him.
They were attempting to put him in a situation where he could be made out to be a breaker of the law or a judgmental vindictive man who killed a woman during the feast…
When someone comes in hot, we immediately meet their temperature level. That just raises the temperature and now we are off to the races….
Jesus responds by writing in the dust.
They press him so Jesus stands and says, he who is without sin let him cast the first stone.
Now, no one there could meet that standard.
You see, that’s what sets Jesus apart. He is the only one who ever came and lived a life of sinless perfection.
I don’t have any right to judge your sin because I’m marred and corrupted by my sin.
Only Jesus has the right to judge, and he is judging on some different criteria. If anyone had a right to judge her, it was Jesus.
What does he say at the end?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Jesus said in John 3 that he didn’t enter the world to condemn the world but that through him the world might be saved.
The world is condemned already. Jesus came to save it.
Here’s what all of this is about.
It’s about God providing us with what only He could provide us with. In the desert of this world, there is no one who can offer us absolution and forgiveness, only Jesus.
In the desert there was no food, no water, no light, but God provided for His people what they lacked.
In the desert of this broken world there is no hope, no meaning, no grace, no compassion, but God has provided what we lack.
I want you to think back on the moment when Jesus says he who is without sin cast the first stone…
They leave oldest to youngest… why?
The older you are, the more robust list of sins you have to be held back by and the younger you are the more of an expert you feel like you are…
Most people come to Jesus in their younger years until they reach 18… I think that’s because we come to this place where we feel like we’ve got it figured out, and then once we start to realize just how jacked up we really are, we feel too broken to come to Jesus.
We go from I don’t need Jesus to Jesus doesn’t want me.
Wherever you are at, whether you’re a guy with a stone in his hand… A person who thinks they know it all, or if you’re broken cowering in shame, not really surprised people are throwing rocks at you, Jesus speaks to everyone of us softly and says, I have not come to condemn, but to save.
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