April 19, 2015
Message, Tim LaFleur, Discipleship Pastor
Some of the most beloved passages in all of the Word of God come from the writing of John, the Evangelist. See if you can recognize some of these. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation that light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. And this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Is it any wonder that Bible scholars and theologians call John the Evangelist? Some of the greatest passages that have ever been penned have been penned from the Apostle.
I want to thank Pastor Robby for allowing me to preach. The privilege. I count it a privilege. I am thankful and humbled at the same time. But the one reservation that I have is what that old country preacher said, “God can hit a straight lick with a crooked stick.” Amen? I am just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody who can change anybody.
During these days, we have been going through the gospel of John. And I want to remind you that the gospel of John is a very unique book. And there are several distinctive about the gospel of John that I want to remind you of that we have learned along the way. The last series, we talked about the seven signs. Pastor Robby talked about the seven miracles and specifically the Messianic miracles that pointed to the fact that Jesus is the Christ. And during these days, we are talking about the seven sayings.
Now I want to remind you that John’s gospel was written some 30-40 years after the other synoptic, Matthew, Mark and Luke. John’s gospel, like all the other books of the Bible, was written with a specific purpose in mind and it seems like John is laser focused on that purpose. Turn if you would in your Bible to John Chapter 20 and I want us to consider Verses 30 and 31. John Chapter 20 and Verses 30 and 31. When you get there, say “Word.”
John states his purpose. This is the intended purpose of the book. He states his purpose and here is what he says. “Now the things Jesus did, the signs, the miracles He did in the presence of the disciples are not all written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you might have life in His name.” And that is the principle, that is the purpose for this book and the writing of the gospel of John is so that you and I might come to understand who Jesus is, why He came and that through seeing that, we might believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God.
Another distinctive about John’s gospel is this, not all of the events in the life of Jesus that are recorded in the other gospels are found in the book of John. But it seems like John is laser focused and organizes his book around three groupings. Three groupings of seven. Seven signs, seven sayings and seven sermons or discourses.
Now we dealt with some of the sermons in the first series. And during this series, we are dealing with the sayings, and during the last series, we will deal with some of the encounters that Jesus has with various people in John’s gospel.
The seven I AM sayings or the seven I AM statements that Pastor Robby dealt with extensively last week is what we are talking about. And the one we will consider today is the second of the seven sayings. You recall that when God confronted Moses out on the backside of the desert, the bush was burning and yet it was not consumed. Moses asked God, “Whom shall I tell Pharaoh sent me?” And He said, “I
AM sent you.” And you will recall Pastor Robby bringing it out last week so beautifully that when He said, I AM, what He was saying was I AM the God who was, who is and who will be. You remember that.
And so this is the second of the I AM statements. In John Chapter 6, He says, “I AM the bread of life.” That is what we dealt with last week. In this passage in John 8, He says, “I AM the light of the world.” In John 10, He says, “I AM the door.” And then again in John 10 in Verse, I believe it is Verse 12 maybe, He says, “I AM the Good Shepherd.” Then in John Chapter 11, He says, “I AM the resurrection and the life.” In John 14 He says, “I AM the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except by Me.” And in John 15, He says, “I AM the true vine and My Father is the vine dresser.”
Now I want to call your attention to the text we will consider today. Look at it in John 8 and Verse 12. We are going to look at one verse of Scripture. In fact, this is so rich, I thought about preaching the whole passage, but we can only spend time with one verse of scripture.
Look at it. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I AM the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
My goal this morning is simply this. I want you to see Jesus as the only true light so that you can experience His light and the life as you follow Him. Let me say that again. I want you to see Jesus as the only true light so that you and I can experience His light and life as you follow Him.
Lets go to God in prayer. Father, we ask that You give grace, that we might see Jesus as the only true light. Lord, give us the grace to catch a fresh glimpse of who You are and Lord, to purpose to follow after You no matter what the cost. We ask, God, that You open spiritual eyes that we might behold truth from Your Word and we pray it in Jesus’ name. Amen.
I want to ask you a question and I want you to listen carefully. Have you ever been in a place, in a location…I am talking about a physical location where it seemed that you were in total darkness. Think about a time maybe when you were a child that you found yourself in a situation where you were in total darkness without any presence of light whatsoever.
As I thought about that, as I thought about the contrast between darkness and light that is contained in this verse of Scripture, I thought about my summer in Black Mountain, North Carolina. I mean, it was one of the greatest summers of my life.
My friend and I, Dennis Beard, his Daddy, Jackie and the whole family. We got in his Delta 88. I will never forget the Oldsmobile. Do you remember those cars. Delta 88 Oldsmobile. And we took from the Bayou to Black Mountain, North Carolina.
You know, I had never seen mountains before. Have you ever been there? I had never seen mountains. My idea of mountains was the two piles of oyster shells on the other side of the Intercoastal. Do you know what I am talking about? And so we are driving and we go on, I guess it is I59 and we head this way. And all of a sudden we get in Northern Alabama and Georgia and we get into Tennessee and we begin to see these mountains and we go to North Carolina. I mean, it was a beautiful trip. And you can imagine a Cajun coming to the hills and the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina. I mean, it was an amazing time. And it was a great summer because that summer changed my life.
Now, one of the things, and you will call me crazy that I did during that summer is, I had the privilege of serving as a summer missionary at Camp Rockmont for Boys. It was the summer between my junior and senior year of college. And I believe it was in 1975 or 76, right around there. My wife, I am sure, will correct me. She is listening at home. I don’t know exactly when it was, but I went there and it was a summer that changed my life.
I mean, I was so enamored by that place. It just so happened that Franklin Graham was our Chaplain. Ned Graham, Billy Graham’s son, was my counselor in training. I had the opportunity to meet the Grahams and many of the revival team. I mean, it was just an amazing time. The first part of that summer, I spent as a counselor in a cabin. But the second part of the summer is when it got really good. I got to be a part of a High Adventure team and we went all over North Carolina, Sliding Rock, canoeing in mountain streams in the wilderness, white watering down the Nantahala.
But one of the things that I remember vividly was when I took ten middle school guys hiking down into Linville Gorge. It was about a ten mile hike and we went more than a mile deep into the Gorge. Virgin timbers…it was beautiful. But I remember when we got down there, we caught trout from the stream that runs down there. I mean, it is a beautiful place. Have some of you been there?
One of the things that happened was we found this mountain cave and we went in. And you know, you are going to say, “Bro. T, you are crazy taking ten middle school guys on a trip like that.” But I guess I was crazy during that time. There was a crevice in the rock that led into a cave. And we went in and I had decided, and I said, “Guys, turn the flashlights off.” And it was pitch black. Have you ever been in a place so dark that when you put your hand in front of your face, you couldn’t see it?
I know what you are thinking. You are saying, “You don’t see so well, so maybe that is not a very dark place.” But, but I assure you, I could see very well during that time. This just happened to me lately. And I couldn’t see my finger in front of my face. And then one of the guys turned his flashlight on and it seems like just one flashlight illumined that whole place. And then quickly, we got out of there once we saw what it was like.
That is a picture of spiritual darkness. And what makes this I AM statement so significant is that Jesus comes in, again, He speaks to them saying, “I AM the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
Several things I want you to notice in this verse. The first thing I want you to see is the context in which it was spoken. Now John is very clear about the context of this passage of Scripture. Look at it in Verse 20. He says, “These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the Temple; no one arrested Him, because His hour had not yet come.” Do you see it there? He spoke these words in the treasury. John is very clear about where these words are spoken.
Now you will notice in your text, the first eleven verses are in brackets. Now I don’t have time to go into that, but there is some doubt because of the early manuscripts that this text may not belong exactly here. I will let Pastor Robby deal with that at another time, Amen? I am not going to deal with that today. But listen, I want to tell you, the text that you from John 8:1-11 is very consistent with the life and teaching of Jesus. And so, if it doesn’t belong there, it is not because it wasn’t the encounter Jesus had with this woman, but it may have been added later is what that bracket tells you.
And so you recall, Jesus in John Chapter 7 was experiencing life during this time called the Feast of the Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths, and that is the context of Chapter 7 and I believe Chapter 8. And you recall that the Feast of the Tabernacles, the Feast of Booths was a time for the nation of Israel to remember and to celebrate. They were to remember and to celebrate God’s presence with them in the wilderness.
Now you recall that God led them in the wilderness by a cloud of smoke by day and by a pillar of fire by night. And so this was a visual for the people of God of the presence and the power of God among them and in their midst. The Mishnah tells us that the Jews during the time of Jesus had a celebration that happened in the Court of the Women. That is where the treasury was, in the Court of the Women. It was a large courtyard and the treasury consisted of 13 receptacles where the Jews could pay alms and tithes and Temple tax and all these things that they were required to pay. And so that is where the treasury was in the Court of the Women. And the Mishnah tells us that in the Court of the Women, there was this celebration where the Jews lit four huge candelabras and they called it the Illumination and the reason they called it the Illumination is, it was said that the lighting of these candelabras lit up all of Jerusalem. And so the light could be seen throughout all of Jerusalem. And that is the context in which Jesus comes, I believe, and says “I AM the light of the world.”
John MacArthur helps us here and here is what he says. He said, “Jesus always had a way of capturing the moment, moving the focus from the ritual to Himself.” Do you see it? They are having this ritual, they are having this celebration, they are having this feast where they are celebrating the presence and the power of God in their midst. And Jesus comes on the scene and it is almost as if He is saying, Listen, this candelabra can give light, but I AM the true light of the world. Do you see the context in which this thing is taking place?
Now let me give you a word of caution. They were in the midst of a celebration where they were celebrating the presence and the power of God in their midst and yet they missed Jesus. How tragic! Someone said it this way, tradition is the living faith of the dead while traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And you and I, folks, have to be very, very careful that we are engaged in ritual if you will, when we are engaged in business as usual at the church, when we are engaged in going through the motions. We have got to be careful not to miss Jesus. Amen?
And the purpose of our gathering together is to catch a fresh glimpse through hour worship of who He is, to hear the Word of God, to hear Him speak to us and to have an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and these people missed it. Jesus was in their midst.
Now I want you to notice in Verse 20 that it said, “No one arrested Him for His hour had not yet come.” There was a constant conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders of the day. Had they known the Scriptures, they would have seen Jesus for who He is and yet they missed Him. And so He comes during the time of the celebration and He says, “I am the true light of the world. If you follow Me, you will not walk in darkness but you will have the light of life.”
This is not only the context from which this thing is spoken, but there is the claim of Jesus. Now I want you to see that it is an exclusive claim. He said, “I AM The Light.” He could have said, “I am a light.” In fact, other teachers could have said, I am a light in the world. But Jesus says, He is exclusive here, He says, I AM The light of the world. I am the only true light.
This statement is not only exclusive but it is all encompassing. Notice what He says. He says, “ I am the light of the world.” Even more important than that, it is a direct claim to His Messiahship. Do you realize that? When Jesus came out during this ritual and says, I am the light of the world, He was making a direct claim to who He is and why He came.
I want to call your attention to Isaiah Chapter 42. Turn there, if you would. Isaiah Chapter 42 and Verses 6 and 7. When you get there, say “Word.” The book of Isaiah Chapter 42 and Verses 6 and 7. Look at what Isaiah prophesies. He says, “I am the Lord. I have called you in righteousness. I have taken you by the hand and keep you. I will make you a covenant for the people, a light to the nations, to make those who are blind, eyes opened, to remove you or bring you out of the prisons, you prisoners out of the dungeon.” Look at what he says. “Those in prison who sit in darkness.” And so here is what is happening. Jesus is saying, I am the light of the world. I am claiming to be the Messiah. I am not just A light, I am The Only True Light.
Look again in Isaiah 49 and Verse 6, the end of that verse. The prophet Isaiah says, “I will make you a light for the nations.” Why, Isaiah? “That my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Do you see it? Jesus is not claiming only to be a light for Israel, only to be Israel’s Messiah, He is claiming really and you see as it unfolds, that He is the Son of God and He is the Savior for all people. John would say in his epistle, “And He Himself is our propitiation. He forgives our sins, not ours only, but the sins of the entire world.” Do you see it? Jesus Christ is claiming to be the only true Light and there is none beside Him.
There is not only the context from which it was spoken and the claim of Jesus, but also notice the call to follow Him. Look at the text. Again, Jesus spoke to them saying, “I Am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
Jesus said, “Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness.” What does it really mean to follow Jesus? You know, I think it is interesting that the disciple making pastor has the privilege of preaching this text because if you know me, you know that I believe that it is all about following Jesus. Amen? Knowing who He is and following after Him. And that is what the Scripture says. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.
What does it really mean to follow? In the language of the New Testament, here is what it means. It means to pursue, to go hard after, to obey. He doesn’t just say, here, whoever pays Me lip service, He says, whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life. It is the same word used in John 12. I want you to turn there. And I want you to see what Jesus is really saying. John 12:24. When you get there, say “Word.” “Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life, loses it. But whoever hates his life in this world, keeps it for eternal life.”
Now look at Verse 26. “If anyone serves Me, He must do (what?), He must follow Me.” Any questions? If anyone serves Me, the scripture says, he must follow Me. And where I am, there my servant will be also. And he who serves Me, My Father will honor.”
If you want to be honored by God, if you want to serve God, if you really want your life to count for God, here is what you do, you follow Jesus. Now I want to call your attention to Luke Chapter 9. Luke Chapter 9 and Verse 23, a classic text. Many of you have this text committed to memory. Many of you who are in D Groups have this text committed to memory. And here is what He says. “And He said to all, if anyone comes after Me, let him do (what?) deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.” That is the cost of discipleship. You want to be a disciple of Christ, you follow after Christ. You deny yourself. You die to self. You shoulder a cross and you follow after Him.
Listen, He is not just talking about paying Christ lip service, He is talking about living your life to the glory of God. He is talking about conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel. That is what we have been called to do, not just to believe, but that belief in John’s gospel has the idea of following after Christ. So it is not just intellectual assent. It is action. To believe, for John, is always action because it makes a difference in your life.
There is not only the context from which it was spoken and the claim of Christ and the call to follow Him, but I want you to notice lastly, the contrast between light and darkness.
Look at what the Scripture says. “Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” I want you to listen carefully, to walk in darkness at the most basic level is to be void of the presence of God in your life. Paul said it this way, “To be alienated from the life of God.” That is what it means to walk in darkness, to be lost without Christ, to be in spiritual darkness, separated from the life of God. In other words, God is far off somewhere. And as a result, a person who is lost without Christ is in spiritual darkness and separated from God. In the same way, we are in that cave and we couldn’t see our hand in front of our face…you know the writer of the Proverbs says, “The way of the wicked is as deep darkness.” That is what the way of the wicked is characterized by. But the path of the righteous is as the first gleam of the dawn shining ever brighter until the full light of day.
Jesus Christ can dispel your darkness, my friend. Only Jesus can dispel the darkness in your life. To walk in light is to walk in His radiant beauty and life as He leads and we follow Him. He leads us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Jesus Christ dispels the darkness in this world. Think about it. The light of His resurrection life dispels the darkness of death, hell and the grave. The light of His truth dispels the darkness of the enemy’s lies. The light of His wisdom dispels the darkness of ignorance and unbelief. The light of His purity dispels all that is deceitful land impure. The light of His radiant presence dispels the darkness of this world. Only Jesus can dispel the darkness in your life.
You don’t have to walk in darkness. You can have the light of life if you come to Christ and follow Him.
Now what do we do with all this? Here are the walking points. The first one is this and you might want to jot these down. Pursue Jesus as the only true light. Pursue Christ as the only true light.
What are you saying, Bro. Tim? Here is what I am telling you. If you don’t know Christ, come to Jesus. Come to faith in Christ. And if you are a child of God, continually follow after Jesus. I quoted from the Proverbs. It is Chapter 4 and Verse 18. “The path of the righteous is as the first gleam of the dawn that shines brighter and brighter until the full light of day.” What does that mean? Here is what it means. When you consistently follow Jesus and walk in the light that He gives you, He shines more light so that you can continue to follow Him. When you know Christ, you will love Him. And when you love Him, you will follow Him. And as you are knowing more about who Jesus is and loving Him more, God begins to shine a spotlight on your way that you can continue to follow Him close. Is that your desire?
Oh, listen, if you don’t know Christ, come to Jesus. He is the only One who can give life. The Bible says, “Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” And I am mindful of what Paul said in his epistle. He said, “Who transferred us from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of His dear Son.”
If you are here today, lost without Christ, I want to encourage you, allow Jesus to move you from darkness to light.
The second walking point is this, purpose to be a light. Do you realize that? When you follow Jesus, you not only walk in His light and life, but you become a light. Do you recall what Jesus said in the sermon on the mount, Matthew 5 and Verse 16. Here is what He said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may give glory to your Father, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” And that is the need of the day. That is the need of the hour. That believers be salt and light. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father which is in heaven. And everyone of us have an opportunity to be salt and light. We have the opportunity day by day, as Barry prayed in the offertory, to not only be a light to the nations, but we have the opportunity day after day to be a light to our neighborhoods and in the market place and everywhere we go, everybody we come into contact with, we can shine the light of Jesus and reflect His glory as His image bearer. Is that you? Do you know Christ? God’s Word to you would be come to the only true Light that can dispel the darkness in your life. And if you do know Him, God’s Word to you would be follow after Him because as you follow Him, knowing Him more, loving Him more, following after Him, He not only shows you where to go, but He gives more light. He gives more truth. He allows you to see Him in new ways so that you can follow Him close. Would you do that?