The Light of the World

Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →

The Light of the World


John 8:12-32 

Top Ten list of approaches at changing a light bulb.

10            Q: How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?

A: How many can you afford?

9              Q: How many teamsters does it take to change a light bulb?

A: “Twelve. Ya got a problem with that?’‘

8              Q: How many Psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Only one, but the bulb has got to really WANT to change.

7              Q: How many ‘Real Men’ does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None: ‘Real Men’ aren’t afraid of the dark.

6              Q: How many football players does it take to change a light bulb?

A: The entire team! And they all get a semester’s credit for it!

 5             Q: How many Harvard grads does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Just one. He grabs the bulb and waits for the world to revolve around him.

4              Q: How many bureaucrats does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: 45. One to change the bulb, and 44 to do the paperwork.

3              Q: How many board meetings does it take to get a light bulb changed?

A: This topic was resumed from last week’s discussion, but is incomplete pending resolution of some action items. It will be continued next week.

2              Q: How many Arthur Anderson accountants does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: What kind of answer did you have in mind?

 1             Q. How many Floridians does it take to change a lightbulb?

A. Don’t know for sure, they’re still counting.

John 8 – still at the Feast of Tabernacles approximately AD 29.  He has presented Himself as life-giving water as they symbolized God’s provision of water in the wilderness (ch. 7). Now, He siezes again upon a very significant moment that the Father gives Him to reveal Himself.    “Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world, he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’” – Jn 8:12 (memorize it!)  Amazing economy of words…

1. The Claim of Light, “I am the light of the world”

2. The Contrast of Light, “shall not walk in darkness”

3. The Conditions of Light, “he that followeth me”

4. The Consequences of the Light, “shall have the light of life”

1.      The Claim of Light, “I am the light of the world”


John 8:20  “These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.”

Only Jews were allowed in the Treasury, and both sexes were permitted to walk through this court. Placed around this courtyard were thirteen trumpet-shaped containers, small at the top and flanged at the bottom. Each of these receptacles had a label for a specific kind of offering. One particular ritual of the feast was celebrated in this court with a “standing-room-only” crowd looking on. Four huge candelabras graced this court. On the first night of the feast of tabernacles, these were lit. Reports from the first century tell us that these lights could be seen throughout Jerusalem. This act commemorated the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.

Perhaps they would recall what every Jewish child would recite growing up, Psalm 27:1

“The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom shall I fear?

the LORD is the strength of my life;

of whom shall I be afraid?”

Following this lighting, the people would dance and sing late into the night, all week. But on the last day of the feast, the priests would extinguish the lights. The reason for this was that God had not yet sent the “Deliverer,” the “Messiah.”

Jesus is standing in the courtyard where these beautiful candelabras are. They had been lit for several days, but now they are darkened. In the midst of all this symbolism, Jesus stands and says, “I am the light of the world” (8:12). What do you think that did to that crowd who had just finished the celebration of light?


We must take seriously these beautiful words because Jesus means them. These are not a politician's promise; promises that can all be forgotten after the election. Our Lord means to fulfill these words in any human life: "I am the light of the world; he who follows me [not just knows about me], he who walks with me, obeys me and stays with me will have light in his pathway."

Dr. Phillips Brooks, who was a preacher from a century ago, described the light of the sunrise in these words:

When the sun rose this morning it found the world in darkness, torpid and heavy and asleep, with powers all wrapped up in sluggishness; with life that was hardly better or more alive than death. The sun found this great sleeping world and woke it. It bade it to be itself. It quickened every slow and sluggish faculty. It called to the dull streams and said, "Be quick;" to the dull birds and bade them sing; to the dull fields and made them grow; to dull men and women and bade them think and talk and work. …It poured strength into the essential processes which belonged to the very nature of the earth. It glorified, intensified and fulfilled the earth.

In the words, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness," he means that not only will he give light to the one who follows him, but he will be the means by which that man will see everything else in his path; and he will be summoned to fulfillment; he will be energized and fulfilled and intensified by the light.

What follows Jesus’ words is a life and death struggle between light and darkness.  It is all out battle.  Full frontal assault between the darkened souls of religious leadership and the Light of Life, Jesus Christ.  It gets ugly.

2. The Contrast of Light, he who follows me shall not walk in darkness”

That is a wonderful promise. There is nothing mankind needs more, then and now, than light on the path. People are walking in darkness.  It is not economics or education that is needed (important).  It is light.

Later on in this very gospel Jesus declares, "He that walks in darkness does not know where he is going," {cf, John 12:35}. How many people do not know where they are going, not only after they leave this life, but even down the road a little. They have no idea of what is ahead; they are running into disaster and they cannot even see it coming. But the man who has light can see what is in his pathway.

ill. With 22 million followers, Oprah Winfrey is arguably the most influential spiritual leader in pop culture in America.  In a context of talking about Buddhism, and Judaism and Hinduism, Oprah herself has said, "One of the biggest mistakes humans make is to believe there is only one way. Actually, there are many diverse paths leading to what you call God." Not true!

13,14  The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You are bearing witness of Yourself;  Your witness is not true.”  Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true; for I know where I came from, and where I am going;  but you do not know where I come from, or where I am going.”

They rejected Him, supposing there was no supporting testimony. Since He testified concerning Himself, they thought His testimony need not be believed and accepted.  That was their practice.   He had before acknowledged, himself, the technical need of supplementary evidence and furnished it in the form of the testimony of John the Baptist, His Father, His words, His works, and the Scriptures.

The problem of these Pharisees is mentioned in the next verse: “Ye judge according to the flesh” (8:15). These darkened souls employed a human standard, a fallible process of thinking, to arrive at their judgment.

“Superficial judgment, judging by appearances. You think that as Messiah I am supposed to lead a revolt against Rome, now.”

16  "But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and He who sent Me.

17  "Even in your law it has been written, that the testimony of two men is true.

18  "I am He who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me."

19  And so they were saying to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me, nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also."

They implied that an absent witness was worthless.   If they had been spiritually minded, having a just conception of Jesus, they would have been able spiritually to perceive the Father also. God is only known spiritually. Their failing to perceive Him reveals their lack of spirituality.  Christ was the only One who could introduce the Father to them. You can’t know God unless you know Christ!

One of the amazing things in this moment of the story is that although these men were claiming to know God, they really did not know him.


3. The Conditions of Light, “he that followeth me”

This is a problem in religious America today, especially here in the Bible belt.  Many say they know God, but the god they are talking about is a god of their own imagination. They are merely projecting an idea about God that is not real; consequently they do not know God at all. Neither do they worship God; they are worshiping a figment of their imagination. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones speaks to this:

“Their god is something which they created themselves, a being who is always prepared to oblige and excuse them. They do not worship him with awe and respect, indeed they do not worship him at all. They reveal that their so-called god is no god at all in their talk. For they are forever saying that “they simply cannot believe that God will punish the unrepentant sinner to all eternity, and this and that.” They cannot believe that God will do so, therefore, they draw the conclusion that God does not and will not. In other words, God does what they believe he ought to do or not do. What a false and blasphemous conception of God! How utterly untrue and unworthy! Such is the new paganism of today.”

That is why many people do not come to the light: Their willful ignorance blinds their hearts. They do not know Jesus, and they do not know God. They do not follow Him. They call the darkness light, because, it is comfortable.

23  And He was saying to them, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.

In other words, “All of your thinking is limited by the narrow confines of this life. You do not understand what is going on in the invisible realms of life. You do not see what is bringing to pass all the historical occurrences of earth. You do not see the hand of God or the hand of the devil. You do not understand anything beyond the limited, narrow range of facts which you can see with your eyes and hear with your ears. But I am from beyond that. I am from above, from out of this world.”

24  "I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins."

The Pharisees professed ignorance of who Jesus Christ claimed to be and asked Him to state who He was. This was designed to elicit from Jesus a public statement that He was the Son of God. Such a statement made in the presence of many witnesses could be used against Him to accuse Him of blasphemy. Christ replied that He was who He had been claiming to be all along.

25  And so they were saying to Him, "Who are You?" Jesus said to them, "What have I been saying to you from the beginning? 26  "I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world."

27  They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father.

28  Jesus therefore said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.

29  "And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him." 30  As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.

4. The Consequences of the Light, “shall have the light of life

What made the difference? The cross. What does Jesus mean, “When you have lifted up the Son of man”? When you see Jesus on the cross then you begin to understand the facts about life. That is what he is saying.


31  Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32  and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

True story of an old Glasgow professor named MacDonald who, along with a Scottish chaplain, had bailed out of an airplane behind German lines. They were put in a prison camp. A high wire fence separated the Americans from the British, and the Germans made it next to impossible for the two sides to communicate. MacDonald was put in the American barracks and the chaplain was housed with the Brits.

Every day the two men would meet at the fence and exchange a greeting. Unknown to the guards, the Americans had a little homemade radio and were able to get news from the outside, something more precious than food in a prison camp. Every day, MacDonald would take a headline or two to the fence and share it with the chaplain in the ancient Gaelic language, indecipherable to the Germans.

One day, news came over the little radio that the German High Command had surrendered and the war was over. MacDonald took the news to his friend, then stood and watched him disappear into the British barracks. A moment later, a roar of celebration came from the barracks.

Life in that camp was transformed. Men walked around singing and shouting, waving at the guards, even laughing at the dogs. When the German guards finally heard the news three nights later, they fled into the dark, leaving the gates unlocked. The next morning, Brits and Americans walked out as free men. Yet they had truly been set free three days earlier by the news that the war was over.

While Christ’s Kingdom is not fully achieved, we know the outcome of the battle. We too have been set free. —Ray Bakke, Chicago, Illinois. Leadership, Vol. 19, no. 2.

                We live in that moment – the outcome is certain, we are free – awaiting full salvation.

Do you want the strength that Christ had to face life’s daily battles? Throughout Jesus’ ministry He was continually forced into confrontations with those who criticized, undermined, and sought to hinder His work. How was our Lord able to “stay on top?’ What was the source of His strength? I find here three things that helped Jesus Christ stand strong in the face of opposition.


∙ A Clear Sense of His Calling (8:14, 16, 26, 42).

In verse fourteen we read, “for I know where I came from, and where I am going”.   Jesus was saying, “I know my purposes in life. I know where I come from, and I know where I’m going.”

∙ Another indication of His clear sense of calling is found in verse sixteen: “I am not alone, but, I and the Father that sent me.” The Father was “with” him and had “sent” Him with a divine purpose.

∙ Again in verse twenty-six He refers to the Father as having “sent” Him. He knows God’s hand is upon Him. He knows He is doing God’s work. That’s why He can stand against the opposition.

∙ Finally, He makes this strong assertion, “I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but He sent me” (8:42).

There is nothing that brings more confidence to a life than to know that God is in control of your life and that you are following God’s goals for your life. Do you want strength and success in life? Then get a firm grip on what God wants from you and pursue it with all your heart. But how can you know those things? The second and third points will make this clearer.

∙ A Deep Commitment to the Truth (8:26, 28, 40, 45).

Jesus Christ obviously had a deep commitment to the truth. John 8:26 “. . . I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.” The Lord spoke only those things which He had received as truth from God. God spoke truth. Jesus listened and then taught the world God’s truth. Again he said, “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things” (8:28). The basis of Christ’s “preaching” was “the Word of God.” “But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God” (8:40).

∙ The opposition to Jesus was based not simply on who He was, but on the truth He spoke.

∙ A Consistent Life of Obedience (8:29, 55).

First of all, look at verse fifty-five. “And you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I shall be a liar like you, but I do know Him, and keep His word.” It was not enough for Jesus Christ to know the truth; He determined to put it into practice.

∙ Come back now to verse twenty-nine for the real eye-opener. “And he that sent me is with me: the Father has not left me alone; for I do always those things that are pleasing to Him.” Here then is a fantastic truth. Would you like to enjoy God’s presence in your life? Do you want the secret? “I do always those things that please him” (8:29). Because Christ was committed to a life of consistent obedience, God honored Him with His presence and power.    He walked in the light.

Illustration :

A little girl heard that Christians were saints. On one occasion she was taken to a cathedral. She sat watching the sunshine through the windows. She asked her mother, “Who are these people on the window? They are saints,” was the answer. Then the child said, “Now I know what saints are. They are people who let the light shine through.

Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more