Damariscotta Baptist Church
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

JESUS IS THE LIGHT – NO MORE DARKNESS

 

In our responsive reading of John 1:1-14 we discover even more names for Jesus.

 
John informs us that -
 

Jesus is the Word. As a member of the Trinity, he is described as “the Word” and we know from the account given in Genesis 1, it was the spoken Word that created everything. So Jesus has been around, is part of God, since the beginning, and the part that brings life and the life given was the light of men.

 
We are also informed that
 

John the Baptist was sent from God to bear witness to the light – the fulfillment of a Messianic prophecy

 
Next, John refers Jesus to:

-    The true light

-    Which enlightens everyone

-    He was in the world and the world did not know him

-    He came to his own and they did not receive him

-    BUT to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God

-    Then the Word, the light, became flesh and dwelt among us

 

Today, I’m going to focus on Jesus as the Light.

So, let’s fast forward to John, chapter 8, verse 12, where we read of an incident when Jesus is in the midst of his earthly ministry.

 

John 8:12 “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.”

 

In order to truly understand what was happening here, we need to consider the historical context. Jesus and his fellow Israelite men are in the midst of the “Feast of Tabernacles”.

If you recall, John the Baptist had predicted that Jesus would be coming to “his own” the Israelites” and they would not receive him. Well here is one of those times. Jesus is proclaiming who he is,

 
They just don’t get it.
 

Let me set the stage a little bit for you.

 

Jesus and his disciples are in Jerusalem because they are required to be there in order to participate in the annual

 
Feast of Tabernacles –
 

-    Known as the Feast of Booths, is the seventh and last feast that the Lord commanded Israel to observe and one of the three feast that Jews were to observe each year by going to “appear before the Lord your God in the place which He shall choose” Deuteronomy 16:16, which is Jerusalem

-    Takes place on the 15th day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, which usually occurs in late September to mid-October

-    All native born male Jews were commanded to participate in the Feast of Tabernacles

-    They were also commanded to go to Jerusalem, and they also brought their tithes and offerings to the Temple

-    It was a time to remember and celebrate God’s deliverance and His provision

-    All of them lived in temporary shelters or booths as part of the requirements of the feast

-    Eight day period

-    God’s instructions for this feast occurred in Leviticus 23, it was a point in history right after God had delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt.

-    The festival began and ended with a day of rest

-    On each day of the feast they were to offer an “offering made by fire to the Lord”

-    During the eight days the Israelites would dwell in booths or tabernacles that were made from the branches of trees to remind them that God delivered them out of the “land of Egypt and to look forward to the coming Messiah, who would deliver His people from the bondage of sin and deliver them from their enemies

-    The Feast of Tabernacles, like all feasts, was instituted by God as a way of reminding Israelites in every generation of their deliverance by God from Egypt

-    They were also significant in that they foreshadowed the work and actions of the coming Messiah

-    Much of Jesus’ public ministry took place in conjunction with the Holy Feasts set forth by God

 

Now during this particular Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus makes the claim that he is the “light of the world” and whoever follows him will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

 

It is important to realize that as a part of the Feast of Tabernacles, there was a lamp-lighting ceremony which took place in the temple, every night. Large lamps were set up in the Court of Women and it was said that the lamp’s light filled every court yard in the city. And under these lights there was great singing and dancing, an all evening celebration of God’s salvation, especially his deliverance at the exodus as he led his people with his presence in a pillar of fire by night.

 

Can you picture what is happening here?

 

I can imagine what is happening during this particular Feast. You see, the first hundred years or so of following God’s commands and doing the do’s and not doing the don’ts gets to be rather mundane. The Israelites have been so out of touch as to what the “real” meaning of the Feast was to “really” mean. And let’s face it, we have a city full of grown men, who “have” to be there and evening arises, the lights go on and the dancing, singing and celebration begins. You can bet there is no shortage of wine. They are a happy lot. If you have any recollection or understanding of “Woodstock” you may be able to visualize the scene. The men are there but I suspect only a few of them are celebrating the “true” meaning of deliverance, which occurred generations ago has been lost.

 

Jesus is in the presence of these lamps burning bright, a symbol of how God redeemed his people from Egypt, and he claims to be “that light” ”THE light”. He claims to be the divine presence that saves God’s people from their bondage. He is the saving presence for the whole world, not just for the Jews. Now he is reiterating his mission to the whole world in terms that would remind a good Jewish scholar of the “suffering servant, who was to be the ‘light to the nations’ in Isaiah 49:6, the fulfillment of a prophecy of the Messiah.

 

So let’s make sure you have it correctly.

 

Israel followed the presence of the Lord in the pillar of fire as they escaped Egypt and journeyed to the Promised Land.

 

Now Jesus says, to those who follow him

-    You will never walk in darkness

-    But will have the light of life

 

This is a salvation far greater than that of walking out of Egypt. Jesus is saying here that when you follow him, the light, that you have not only a deliverance from a human enemy, but also from the forces of rebellion against God, that lie behind every form of evil in the world. I am describing both the physical and the spiritual realm.

 

Let’s face it. This world has evil. Evil exists and bad things happen. Evil likes darkness. It can hide and get away with its evilness when it is in dark.

 

Jesus’ deliverance is not just a rescue from the darkness, we all need that, but he offers a light shining and revealing, which in turn offers an ongoing life apart from darkness through possession of the light of life.

 

Let’s hear the words Jesus spoke again…

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

The world we live in, lies in darkness and death because it has rebelled against God and is not connected to the source of light and life.

 

Jesus claims to be not only light, illumination, but also a light that brings life back to the world and sets it free from its bondage of sin.

 

Talk about liberating!

 

So what about you today?

 

Do you need to be set free from the bondage of sin?

 

Do you need to feel the warmth of the light on a tired and weary soul?

 

Do you take your walk with God for granted, much like the Israelites dancing in the courtyards during the Feast of Tabernacles, and need to shine your light with integrity?

 

This image of Christ, as the light of life, is powerful and can touch each of us in different ways and with different significance.

 

But the idea of light, energy, power, is something each one of us can apply to our journey with God, regardless of where we are.

 

Today as we come together at the Lord’s Table, I encourage you to take some time to contemplate where you do need light? Where in your life could you use:

-    Enlightenment

-    Energy

-    Illumination, wisdom

-    Direction, guidance

-    Growth and life

-    Warmth and comfort

-    The removal of darkness

 

Jesus pierces the darkness of sin and death and conquers them. Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper reminds of this.

 

There is No more darkness for those who receive Jesus, he promised he would give those who follow him, the right to become children of God.

 

As his children, let us gather together to share in his supper. The symbols of what Christ did for us to give us life and light.

 

Now that we have absorbed the Light for ourselves,

It is time to be the mirror –

We need to reflect God’s light to the world around us.

 

Let us turn towards the light, walk closer to the light, and draw from Jesus the source of the light, the particular energy we need. Then, with the light of Jesus in us, let us be the reflection of God’s light and life to the world.

 
Let us remember….
 

All the darkness in the world cannot put out one candle flame.