The Light of the World

  • The Light of the World
  • John 8:12
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • April 30, 2017
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4-30-17 Sermon from LakeRidge UMC on Vimeo.

On Easter Sunday, we started a series called “I AM.”  In this series we’re looking at some of the “I am” statements that Jesus made in the Gospel of John.  If you’ll look in John’s gospel, there were several different times where Jesus said “I am”, and then he gave us different characteristics of who he is.

 

Today, we’re going to look at one of the most inspirational, life changing “I am” statements that Jesus ever made.  It’s found in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but what will he have the light of life.”

 

If you follow Jesus, you will never walk in darkness, which is a good thing, because darkness is scary. Right? How many of you, as a kid, were afraid of the dark?  Raise up your hands high. How many of you say, “I’m not a kid.  I’m a grownup, and I’m still afraid of the dark.”  Raise your hands up.

 

When I was a kid, all I needed was a night light.  You give me a night light and I’m fine.  One night light and the closet door had to be closed all the way. Because, if there was a crack in the closet door, and there was a monster in there, the monster could get out and get me at night.  But if the closet door was closed all the way, there’s a force field that sealed the monster in.

 

Who knows what I’m talking about?  A little bit of light, close the closet door and then when you’re sleeping, never let a hand or a foot drape over the edge of the bed.  If there was a monster under the bed, what could he do?  He could reach up there and “Wack!”  Pull you underneath the bed.  You just keep everything on the bed and if you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you just jump over their reach, go to the bathroom and come back in.

 

Who knows what I’m talking about?  A little bit of light changes everything.  You put on the night light and all of a sudden, the darkness isn’t as scary.

 

All through scripture, we see the light contrasted with darkness.  In the beginning, God spoke and said, “Let there be light.” And he separated the darkness from the light, the day from the night.

 

All through the Bible, God is called light.  Our spiritual enemy, Satan, is called the Prince of Darkness. There’s the contrast between light and dark, God and Satan.

 

In fact, when Jesus spoke to Saul in Acts 26:17-18, he contrasted light and darkness.  Jesus said, “Yes, I’m sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.”

We see the contrast between darkness and light and Jesus makes the life-changing statement, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

 

If you’ve grown up anywhere around the church, you may have heard that statement before, but I found that most people don’t know the context in which Jesus made that “I am” statement.  That statement actually came after one of the greatest grace-filled stories in all the bible.  In fact, some of you may be familiar with this story, it’s known as “The woman caught in sin.”

 

It was right after this story that Jesus made his “I am” statement, “I am the light of the world.”  I want to break down that story of the woman caught in sin that leads into this life-changing statement.

 

As we look at John 8, I want to break it down into three different parts to make it easier to digest.  We’re going to look at the law, the love and the light.  Sounds like a bad title for a movie or t.v. show, but we don’t care; we’re going to go with it.

 

Let’s start with the law. What does the law reveal?  The law reveals our guilt. John 8:2 says,  “As Jesus appeared again in the temple courts where all the people gathered around him, he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in sin.  They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.’”

 

Without any shadow of a doubt, this is the darkest, most shame filled, humiliating moments of her life as they ask Jesus, “Should we stone her like the law says?”

 

Read on in verse 8, “In the law, Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. Now, what do you say, Jesus?”  They’re asking him.  Verse 6 says, “they were using this question as a trap in order to have a basis for accusing him.”  They wanted to catch him and to trap him.

 

Now, what they were saying was true.  In the law of Moses, if someone was caught in adultery, they would get stoned. What the Pharisees were saying was true.  They asked, “Jesus, what do you say about this?”  They were trying to trap him, because if he said, “Yep, go ahead and stone her”, then he would lose his reputation as being loving.

 

But if he said, “No, let her off just this one time,” then he would be saying it’s okay to break the law of Moses.  So, they were trying to trap him, to catch him, to corner him to make him look foolish and discredit him in front of all the people.

 

Jesus is going to do something really significant.  But before we look at that, don’t miss the main point that the law reveals our guilt. Now, interestingly enough, we live in a world today where people don’t like to admit to guilt.

 

In fact, one of the things that I often say that gets the most push-back, the most complaining, is when I say we are not good people.  “But wait a minute, Lyndol, I’m a good person, and she’s a good person, and we are good people.”  Well, we need to understand that in the eyes of God, we are not good people.  We are sinful, horribly sinful, in the eyes of God.  The law reveals our guilt.

 

In fact, just to illustrate it and to make sure you and I know how sinful we are let me go over a few of the ten commandments with you.  I’ll ask you if you’ve ever broken any of these and then you have to admit, “I’m sinful and so are you.”

 

Who among us has ever told a lie?  “The dog ate my homework.”  “Sorry, I’m late. Traffic was so bad today.”  “I don’t know what happened to the last chocolate chip cookie.”  If you’ve used any of those or something like them before what does it make you?  A Liar.

 

How many of you have taken God’s name in vain? Come on golfers, parents, college football fans, raise your hands up. You’ve taken God’s name in vain.

 

How many of you have ever made something more important than God?  Your career? Your hobby? Your family?

 

Now, let’s just break all of this down and be perfectly clear what we are saying here. When we lie that makes us liars. When we take God’s name in vain that’s called blasphemy. When we place other things in front of God that is called idolatry. There are seven other commandments that we could take on as well, but I think you get the idea.

 

Now, we’re sinners.  Why is this so important?  Because, until we see ourselves as sinners, we won’t see our need for a savior.  Someone should tweet it because that’s important.  You see, until we see ourselves as sinners, we will not see our need for a savior.

 

The law reveals our guilt.  The law said this woman is guilty.  The law says we are guilty.  But the good news is, it doesn’t stop with the law.  The law reveals our guilt.

 

The love reveals God’s grace.  Yes, the law reveals our guilt but the love reveals God’s grace.

 

We see this love through Jesus in verse 6.  The Pharisees are trying to trick him and trap him. But Jesus is ignoring their questions, he bends down and starts to write on the ground with his finger.  This is crazy.  They ask, “Jesus, do we stone her or do we not?”  He ignores them, doesn’t answer their question.  He kneels down and starts writing in the sand, or writing in the dirt something with his finger. Now, what did he write?  The answer is:  We don’t know for sure.

 

Verse 7 says this:  “When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone who is without sin pick up a rock and you be the first to throw a stone at her.’”

 

Now, again, in the Greek language, the words translated “without sin” doesn’t just mean “without sin.” It also means “without even wanting to sin.”  It’s not just focusing on the outward behavior, but it’s focusing also on the inward heart.  “Hey, any of you who have never done anything wrong and you’ve not even wanted to do anything wrong, you pick up a stone and you have the right to throw the very first one.”

 

Jesus is going after something that’s really, really important.  These judgmental, arrogant guys have the same problem that all of us have at one point or another.  That is it’s incredibly easy to see others’ sins and overlook our own sins in the mirror.  Have you noticed that?  It’s so easy to pick others apart.  “Well look at her,” and “Look at him,”  and “I can’t believe,” and not even to notice our own sinfulness.

 

Verse 9, “At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left with the woman still standing there.”  So, he’s writing on the ground and the men start, one by one, walking away, the older ones first.

 

So, Jesus and this sinful woman are left there.  In verse 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?” Look at this grace,  “Has no one condemned you?”

 

Broken and ashamed, in the darkest moment of her life, she says, “No one, sir.”

 

Then Jesus looked at this broken woman and spoke the most grace-filled, love-laced words in history.  “Then neither do I condemn you.”

 

There’s somebody here who walked in today in a little bit of darkness and a little bit of shame and agony over what you did or who they think they are.  And when you are in Christ Jesus, you need to know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus; his grace changes everything.  You are not what you did, you are not what they say you are, you are who God says you are.  Because of his grace, if you are in Christ, there is no condemnation.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is an accuser; his name is Satan.  Revelation 12 calls him “the accuser.”  He’s going to hurl insults and accusations against you.

 

Some of you, you know them well, just like I do. It’s that voice that says…

  • “After what you did, God could never love you.”
  • “After how bad you messed up, he could never forgive you.”
  • “After all you’ve done, you could never make a difference in this world.”
  • “After what you did, you’ll never have a good marriage.”
  • “Oh, you blew it big time; it’s over. Your life will never be good again.”

 

That is the voice of the accuser; that’s not the voice of the Savior.  The voice of the Savior says, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.”  Where are your accusers?  I’ll send them away. Neither do I condemn you, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

 

 

Now, was she guilty?  What’s the answer, everybody? Was she guilty?  Yes.

Did she deserve punishment?  Yes.  But, it was because of his love that the grace was revealed. “Because of his love.”  She deserved punishment but he didn’t give it.

 

I am guilty.  You are guilty.  We are incredibly, sinfully, guilty in the eyes of a Holy God.  Don’t ever miss that.  Until we see ourselves as sinners, we will not see our need for a savior.  The law reveals our guilt, but God’s love reveals his grace.  He looks on at this broken woman, who’s shamed by every human being within miles away, and he drives her condemners away and says, “Where are they now?  Neither do I condemn you.”

 

Then what does he say next?  Does he say, “Okay. Now that you’re forgiven, go and try your best not to do it again.”  Does he say that?  He doesn’t do that.

 

What does he do with this woman?  The same thing I believe that he does with us.  He looks at her in verse 11 and says, “Neither do I condemn you,” and then what does he say?  He says, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

 

There’s a sense of urgency to this.  “Go now.”  Not later, now.  “You can be free.  You don’t have to live in darkness anymore.  Go now.”

 

The same voice that spoke to her, I believe, will speak to many of you.  “Go now.  You can be free.  You don’t have to be locked in a dark world of lust.  Go now.” The loving grace of God is here, saying, “Go now.  Walk away. Walk out of darkness, into the light.  Now, now, now, now, now.  Go now out of your shame.  Walk now out of your self-hatred.  Walk out of the condemnation of others.  You don’t have to live there anymore.  The light of the world is on the scene and whenever light shows up, darkness flees because light always overtakes darkness.  Go now.  Go now.”

 

There’s a sense of urgency.  Somebody needs to believe you can be free, you can be healed, you can be changed because light always overwhelms darkness.  The law reveals our guilt.   The love reveals God’s grace.

 

The third thing is, “The light reveals our HOPE.” Now, watch this, in verse 11, the previous verse to the “I Am” statement, Jesus says, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  I used to read that and think, “Well, he’s being a little preachy at her saying, ‘Don’t do that anymore; cut that out.  I forgave you but stop it.’” He wasn’t talking like that at all.

 

The reason I know is because the next verse shows he was encouraging her.  He was saying, “Hey, you don’t have to live in darkness; you can be different.  You don’t have to hurt like you were hurting.  You don’t have to live in shame like you were living.  You don’t have to live in the self-condemnation and self-hatred of your own bad decisions. You can be different.  Go now, and sin no more.”   Why?

 

The very next verse says, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness” because they will have the light of life.’”

 

When Jesus looked at her, he said, “Neither do I condemn you,” at that moment, he actually became the light of her world.

 

In the very same way today, in the grace and the presence of our good God, who is the light, when you personalize this message, he is no longer just the light of the world.  But at this moment, he becomes the light of your world.  When he becomes the light of your world, that changes everything because darkness never defeats light.

 

There is not enough darkness in the world to put out even the smallest flame of the smallest candle because darkness never defeats light.  The good news is, when you believe it, it becomes personal.

 

He’s not an out-there god, he becomes your God; he is your personal light.  When you know that, you receive the freedom from all the condemning voices of the world.

 

The voice of Satan that tells you, “You can’t,” and “You won’t,” and “You never will” is silenced in the presence of God’s grace and goodness; who says, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness again.”

 

The law reveals our guilt.  We are incredibly guilty.  Don’t miss that.  Until we see ourselves as sinners, we won’t see our need for a savior.  Jesus’ love reveals God’s grace.  His light reveals our hope.

 

No matter how dark your world seems right now, he is the light.  In a moment of time, his light can illuminate your darkness, his grace can forgive your sins, his presence can bring healing to your shame.  You are never the same again, because when the light of the world becomes the light of your world, and you follow him, you never have to walk in darkness again.  Our Savior is that good.  He is the light of the world.