Sunday, February 25, 2024

“I Am the Light of the World” [Matt's Messages]

“I Am the Light of the World”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
February 25, 2024 :: John 8:12-30

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

What an astonishing thing to say!!

Jesus sure has a big view of Himself, doesn’t He? This is no small claim. 

Jesus doesn’t just say that He is bright and shiny and that people should look at Him.

That would be one thing. “Hey, I’m bright and shiny. I am really something to see. I have a glory about me. Check me out! Look at me. I practically glow!”

But that’s not what He says. Jesus doesn’t just claim to be a bright light in the world. One of several. He claims to be THE light of the world!

The “world” here is, “kosmos,” humanity united in sin and darkness. And Jesus says that He has slipped into the darkness of this kosmos, the darkness of the world, and turned on the lights [and is, in fact, the light of that world Himself.

Last time we were in the Gospel of John together, couple of weeks ago, I pointed out that Jesus has a way of making everything about Himself.

Here He says if you don’t have Him, then you have darkness. But if you do have Him, then you have light. And more than just light, you have life!

Listen to John 8:12 once again. I think we ought to memorize this one starting next week: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'”

Most every morning, I get up before the sun does, and I put on my heavy coat and my reflective “high viz” vest, and my heated gloves, and my boots with cleats strapped to them, and grab my...flashlight. And I head out on my walk.

This time of the year it’s not as important as it is December. In December, if I don’t take my flashlight, then I often can be stumbling around on my morning hike. Maybe take a nose-dive, especially on the ice. I fell hard once in February of ‘21. Ouch! I need a light or I walk in darkness.

Jesus says that we if we follow Him in life, we will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.

What does He mean?

Remember, seven times in the Gospel of John, Jesus says “I Am _____” and then fills in the blank with a wondrous description of His true identity. We’re going to see seven of these as we go through John together.

We’ve already studied one of them in this series. Do you remember what it was? Jesus says in chapter 6, “I am the bread of life.” Bread that leads to life. Bread that endures to life. If we treat Jesus like we treat bread, then we will have eternal life.

Well, here Jesus is promising the same thing with a different metaphor. Jesus says that He gives “the light of life.” Life eternal. Life better than anything that this world offers. Life that knows what reality really is. Life that escapes the death of darkness. Life that comes through the light. Life in Jesus’ name.

Light is a metaphor here for the glorious power of Christ to create life within the believer. The light of life.

John talked about this way back in chapter 1. He says this is why Jesus came. Chapter 1, verse 4. “In [the Word] was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (Jn. 1:4-5, NIVO).

I was complaining to Heather Joy yesterday about how wonderful this verse is. (Something you should never complain about.) But I just can’t capture how wonderful this promise is.

What does it mean for Jesus to be the light of the world?

Light speaks about power.
Light speaks about glory.
Light is about beauty.
Light is about purity.
Light is about holiness.
Light is about life.

It’s small word, “light,” but it is everything!

And if you don’t have it, you have nothing.

You have darkness.
You have emptiness.
You have ugliness.
You have impurity.
You have sinfulness.
You have lostness.
You have death.

Do you feel how big this is?!

Think about the opposite. Jesus could have said it like this:

“Whoever rejects me will always walk in darkness and will have the darkness of death.”

That is true, too. That’s how important it is to understand John 8:12. It’s the difference between light and darkness. It’s the difference between life and death.

I have three points of application this morning, and they are each a matter of life and death.


That’s what He says in verse 12.  “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The application is obvious. Follow Jesus. If you have never begun to follow Jesus, then it’s my joy to invite you to start today.  He will not lead you astray. He will be your light, and He will give you life. He’s will be for you like the pillar of fire in the Old Testament that lit the way forward for God’s people in the wilderness. You will not be tripped up or trapped by your sin, by Satan, or by the world. You will be free and walk in the freedom of light. Come follow Jesus.

If you have already begun to follow Jesus, then I encourage you to keep going. Stay His disciple. Stay on the narrow path. Keep following Jesus. He will light your way. Last week, we talked a lot about marriage and how our theology of marriage is a mark of discipleship. 

We talked about a lot of ways in which we might struggle to follow Jesus and do marriage or singleness Jesus’ way, following God’s good design for our bodies, for our relationships, for our families, for our marriages. And it’s not always easy to do it that way. It’s not always easy to follow Jesus in discipleship. But it is the path that is illumined for us. Don’t go off into the darkness. Follow Jesus and have the light of life. It’s worth it! Following Jesus is always worth it. Especially in the light of eternity.

Now, you can feel already how Jesus is saying that there are two sides and only two sides. There is light and there is darkness, and we have to choose. In the rest of chapter 8, that choice becomes even more clear and stark. In the rest of chapter 8, Jesus gets into a verbal confrontation with the Pharisees.

When I first taught on John 8 twenty five years ago, I called this section, the “Fight with the Pharisees.” It’s going to take us at least two weeks to work through all of it.

The Pharisees (by and large) did NOT follow Jesus. They did NOT like what Jesus said in verse 12. They did not receive Him. They wanted to debate with Him, and in fact, they rejected His claims to be the light of world. They objected. “Objection, your honor!” Look at verse 13.

“The Pharisees challenged him, ‘Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.’”

“You’re not the light of the world. In fact, you are an unreliable witness in your own defense.”

And Jesus said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I must have spoken out of turn.”

No, that’s not what He says! Jesus gets feisty with them. Jesus fights back. Verse 14.

“Jesus answered, ‘Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.”

Jesus says that He is qualified to talk about Who He is. Because He knows Who He is.

And they don’t. They are ignorant. "I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going." You know what we call that? Darkness. Look at verse 15. 

"You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.” Not the way you do! These guys were looking at all of the wrong indicators to figure out Who Jesus was. They were focused on all of the wrong things, outward appearances. And they were missing the Light of the World.

Jesus didn’t just make decisions about people based on a limited understanding of outward appearances. Like His Father, Jesus looked on the heart. And He knew where people really were. Because of His relationship with His father. Verse 16.

“But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.”

Now, think about that verse for just a second. What does that sound like? It sounds to me like chapter 1. Notice what Jesus says is His relationship with God the Father.

Jesus is not alone.
He is the Son.

He is the Son sent by the Father. So He’s FROM the Father. He has FROM-ness to use the language we said before. 

But He also has WITH-ness, doesn’t He? “I am not alone. I stand WITH the Father.” 

He is from, and He is with the Father! So they are one, but they are also two. And two is the number of witnesses that Deuteronomy says you need to have to establish a matter! So, even by their own rules, Jesus can speak as His own witness, because He doesn’t speak alone. Verse 17.

“In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.’”

Now, that should be a mic-drop moment. Jesus says that God the Father(!) has sent Him and testifies that Jesus is His Son and the Light of the World. That should be enough, right? Those are two pretty amazing witnesses.

Well, it wasn’t enough for the Pharisees. Look at verse 19.

“Then they asked him, ‘Where is your father?’ [Huh? How about you produce him? Where is Joseph anyway? They are ignorant. Probably intentionally so. Of course, He got into a lot trouble when He said that God was His Father in chapter 5. But...He goes there again. Verse 19] ‘You do not know me or my Father,’ Jesus replied. ‘If you knew me, you would know my Father also.’”


Know Jesus and know His father. Jesus says that if you know Him, you will know God the Father, as well. Now, that’s scary for those who do not know Jesus (especially those who do not want to know Jesus), but it is so wonderful for you and me.

Do you want to know God? Do you want to have intimate knowledge of the Creator and Lord of the Universe?

You know that God is high and holy and invisible and glorious and lives in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16)? Nobody has ever seen Him!

But what does John 1:18 say? “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known” (Jn. 1:18 NIVO). If you know Jesus, you know His Father.

Let me give you an illustration of this. It's a little known fact that I proposed marriage to Heather Joy before I asked her father for his blessing. In fact, I proposed marriage to Heather Joy before I had even met her father and mother in person.

Now, it is not a little known fact that in-laws can be a big part of a good marriage.  You might be wondering, how I dared to propose without seeing fully what I was getting into. What would the in-laws be like? They were 2,000 miles away in Canada but would become a big part of my life in a short amount of time. And I was accepting them, sight unseen. Sounds dangerous right? 

(If not, you haven't been married!)

No, because I knew their daughter. Because I had made a study of Heather Joy, I knew what I was getting into by seeking to add her parents to my family. I could have been wrong, because Heather is not a perfect representation of her parents, but I had a pretty good idea of who they were before I ever laid eyes on them. (And they turned out to be better than I ever expected!)

Now, think about Jesus. According to v.19, he is the perfect representation of God to us. If you want to know what God is really like, look at Jesus.  When you come to know him, you really know the Father.

Jesus is basically going to say that in the Upper Room when we get to chapter 14. He’s going to say, “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him” (Jn. 14:7-8 NIVO).

So you want to know God, study Jesus. 

The book of Hebrews says, “The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being...” (Heb. 1:3 NIVO).

He is the Light of the World.
He is the Light of God!
“True Light of True Light.”

We accept this, but Jesus was saying really dangerous things right there. In public. That’s why verse 20 says, “He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come.”

Remember Jesus said that to His brothers in the last chapter. It wasn’t His time yet. The hour of His passion had not yet come.

That doesn’t mean they didn’t want to arrest Him, but they just weren’t able to yet. Even though He was there at the temple saying things like this that if you want to know God, you need to know Him.

“I am the light of the world.”

In verse 21, Jesus predicts the future, and for the Pharisees, it is bleak. Verse 21.

“Once more Jesus said to them, ‘I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.’

This made the Jews ask, ‘Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, 'Where I go, you cannot come'?’

But he continued, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.’”


The stakes could not be higher. He says it three times, “you will indeed die in your sins.” That’s scary! That means that these people would die with their sins wrapped around them and go into God’s judgment.

In verse 21, Jesus talked about His death and resurrection and ascension. “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”

I think He means that they will keep looking for a Messiah even after Jesus’ resurrection. The Pharisees will, by and large, reject Jesus, and they will not go where He is going if they reject Him.

They will stumble in the darkness. “You will die in your sin.”

The Pharisees ask if Jesus is depressed and suicidal. “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come.’” I don’t think they really want to understand what He means. They are not seeking the truth. They are content to live in the darkness.

Jesus says that the divide between them could not be greater. “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.'" And so you will go to Hell.

But! We don’t have to go to Hell. We don’t have die in our sins. We don’t have to stumble in the darkness. We can follow Jesus have the light of life. We can believe in Jesus and have our sins forgiven.

That’s the flipside of verse 24, isn’t it?

“[I]f you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”

But the opposite is also true, “If you DO BELIEVE that I am the one I claim to be, you will have your sins forgiven.”

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (Jn. 5:24 NIVO).

Now, hidden in the words of the NIV are some very interesting words in the Greek. They are going to be front and center next week, Lord-willing. Your translation may say, “believe that I am He.” Or it might actually just say believe, “I am.” Because that’s the Greek. “Ego Eimi.” “I am.” 

Like, “I am the light of the world.”

Or like at the burning bush, “I am who I am...Tell them ‘I am’ sent you.”

The NIV translation, “I am the one I claim to be” is very good. I think that is the sense of the words here. The correct interpretation. But you can’t help hear “I am.” “Believe I am.” But these men do not. They challenge Him again. Verse 25.

“‘Who are you?’ they asked. ‘Just what I have been claiming all along,’ Jesus replied. I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world’” (vv.25-26).

They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father.” They didn’t want to understand. 

“Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

They didn’t want to know Who Jesus really is our Who His Father really is. But one day everyone will know. Verse 28.

“So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be [“I am” “ego eimi”] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.’”

Isn’t that amazing teaching? It’s that amazing Trinitarian teaching that the Son is never alone.

He is sent but He is with.
He is sent by the Father but is with the Father.
He is not abandoned and out there doing His own thing.

And everything He does is right. He always does what pleases the Father.

What does that sound like? Like what the Father said at His baptism, right? Our baptism class just looked at that this morning.

“This is my Son, whom I loved. With Him I am well pleased.”

For He always does what please Me.

Listen to Him. 
Put your faith in Him.
Believe in Him.

There is Life in Jesus’ name.
There is Light in Jesus’ name.

Because the Son is going to be “lifted up.” Did you catch that in verse 28?

Jesus said in chapter 3 that He was going to be lifted up which could mean that He will be exalted, and of course, He will.

But this kind of lifted up was lifted up on a pole. Like the snake in the wilderness. Jesus was going to be lifted up onto a Cross to die.

“I always do what pleases Him.”

And on that terrible day, what pleased God was to crush His Son and cause Him to suffer (Isaiah 53:10), making His life a guilt offering for you and me.

“[H]e was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:5-6 NIVO).

Believe in Jesus and have your sins forgiven.

Verse 30 says that, “Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.”

Some of that was fake faith, I’m sure. We’ll see that next week.

But some of it was probably real. And He invites you and me to really believe in Him today.

Believe in Jesus and have your sins forgiven.
Know Jesus and know His Father.
Follow Jesus and have the light of life.

Now and forever.

Because the last page of the Bible says that in the New Heavens and the New Earth, “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 22:5 NIVO). 

Because Jesus was right when He said, “I am the Light of the World.”


Previous Messages In This Series:

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42
12. "Your Son Will Live" - John 4:43-54
13. "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk" - John 5:1-18
14. "To Your Amazement" - John 5:19-30
15. "Testimony About Me" - John 5:31-47
Christmas Eve Bonus: "The Astonishing Gift" - John 3:16 Again
Christmas Eve Bonus: "We Have Seen His Glory" - John 1:1-18 Again
16. "Enough Bread" - John 6:1-15
17. "You Are Looking for Me" - John 6:16-36
18. "I Am the Bread of Life" - John 6:35-71
Vision Meeting Bonus: "As I Have Loved You" - John 13:34-35
19. "At the Feast" - John 7:1-52