The FISHERS Magazine (Issue 219)

I Am the Light of the World


John 8:1-32

John 8:12 says, “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, 'I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.'”

The Setting of Jesus’ Claim
Why did our Lord describe Himself as the Light of the world? The context in which He said these words was set out from Vs 1.

Our Lord had been teaching the people in the Temple, and in the midst of His teaching there had been an interruption by the scribes and Pharisees. They came before Him, dragging a woman taken in adultery. Think of the awful picture of sin that this woman and her life represented. How many people, after they are married, still think that their life is all their own to do with as they please, irrespective of the consequences and the hurt it may bring to others? How often has this type of sin resulted in an unexpected child, and then people think that abortion is the solution to get rid of the inconvenient and unwanted consequences? How often have people said that it is their life and they have the right to choose what they do with their body, even if it means killing a baby in the process? This woman’s sin of adultery is happening all over the world right now, and it is a terrible sin with terrible consequences.

There is another horrible picture of sin in this account and it is seen in the scribes and Pharisees who are religious leaders.

To understand precisely what these men were doing, we examine what John says in Vs 6 “This they said testing Him that they might have something of which to accuse Him.”

Their whole approach was to trap our Lord and make Him say something that would give them cause to arrest Him. They declared the charge against this woman and they also quoted the penalty laid down by the Law (Lev 20:20 and Deu 22:22). But the Law also said that the man was to be punished as well, yet they only brought the woman. These men were cold, hard and pitiless and were using the woman as a mere pawn in the conspiracy against Jesus. They were seeking to trap Him into making statements that would dishonour the Law.

If He upheld the Law and declared that the woman ought to be punished by death, then He would be unfavourable in the eyes of the people. He would be branded a 'hardline puritan'. If He pronounced the death penalty, then He would be in trouble with the Roman authorities, because they were the ones who reserved the right to inflict capital punishment. On the other hand, if He said, "Don't stone her", He would be accused of disrespecting and disregarding the Law of Moses. Whatever His answer, He would be liable to the accusation of the enemy and so, in their eyes, He could not win.

Do you see the enormity and the horror of the sin of these men? They were religious men! And yet, we see on display their hypocrisy, their double standards and their harsh and cruel arrogance.

The woman’s sins were the sins of the flesh, and the religious leaders’ sins were the sins of the heart and the mind. Hers were the coarse sins of carnality, sensuality and worldliness. Theirs were the hypocritical sins of religious men who had the appearance of being spiritual but were totally opposed to God. Altogether they present this extremely dark picture of human sin.

It is in this context that Jesus spoke these words, “I am the light of the world, he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life”.

The Substance of Jesus’ Claim
What our Lord does by making this claim is to show His hearers then, and people ever since, the true spiritual nature of men and women. They were walking in darkness. But what does it mean to be in darkness?

Darkness is A State of Sin
The most disastrous effect that the fall of man has produced is to be found in the realm of man's spiritual nature. He has been brought into a state of sin which our Lord describes as a state of darkness. This is the whole biblical explanation of why man is as he is, and why the world is the way that it is.

God created man perfect, endowed him with amazing faculties and made him the lord of all creation. Yet it does not require a great deal of thought to see that, in this present world order, things are entirely different. What has happened? The answer from Scripture is that mankind has sinned.

Man disobeyed God, and that disobedience has had the most disastrous consequences upon him and upon his whole life and living. That is the reason that we see a world that is in the state that it is today - violence, corruption, immorality, godlessness, inhumanity - all kinds of evil and depravity.

Men and women are now walking in darkness. John 3:19-20 says, “Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil." What a strange perversity! Why do men love darkness rather than light and why do they refuse to come to God or to His Christ? Because their minds are darkened by sin, and they love that darkness more than they love the light of God. Our sinful nature is such that we cannot stand the holy light of God.

Darkness is our Lord's way of describing those people who are unconverted and still in their sin, under its power and influence, and under its guilt. As a result of the Fall of Adam, the mind, the will, the affections, the conscience are all tainted by sin and are in bondage to it.

Such is the condition of men and women, not only two thousand years ago. It is an exact description of the spiritual condition of the clever, sophisticated people in this modern world who laugh at Christianity, and who deride the Christian faith.

The Result of Walking in Darkness
Why are people in this world the way that they are and why do they behave in the ways that they do? The answer is because they are walking in darkness. Their understanding is darkened!

As a result, they are full of ignorance concerning the things of God, their hearts are hardened and they are estranged from God. There is a kind of blindness that is upon all those who do not belong to Christ. They have been blinded by that darkness, so much so that even when they hear the Scriptures being read week by week, they do not see their true meaning. Why?

Paul provides the reason in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” This is another way of saying that they are walking in darkness.

Here is the Bible’s picture of the human race trying to find its way - it is lost and in darkness, helpless and hopeless, and in utter despair. They have no light, no knowledge, and they have no hope.

The Unconverted Walk in Darkness
The other thing that we need to realise is that the Bible teaches that to walk in darkness is to be under the power of Satan who is the Prince of Darkness. That is his title.

Jesus is the Prince of Light and Satan is the Prince of Darkness. Those who are true Christians are the subjects of Christ. Those who are not true Christians are the subjects of Satan and he is their supreme ruler.

Ephesians 6:12 explains that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world…" These rulers are the demons of Hell and they are under the dominion of Satan, and he holds unbelievers captive (2 Tim 2:26). So, to be “walking in darkness” means that men and women are under the complete dominion of a dark and demonic power. That is what we see all around us in the world in which we are living and that is the only way that we can explain things.

The Consequences of Jesus’ Claim
First of all, to be in darkness is to be under the wrath and judgment of God. There is a day coming, known in the Bible as the Day of the Lord, in which God will judge the world and every single person who has been born into it. In the Old Testament, the Prophet Joel described the Day of the Lord as a day of darkness, a day of God's wrath and judgment where unbelievers head for death and hell, and for an eternity of darkness.

When our Lord speaks about people walking in darkness, He is referring to the fact that every minute that such men and women live, they are being brought nearer to that awful eternal state. Do you begin to see what an awful thing it is to be in darkness? The plague of darkness that came upon the land of Egypt and which lasted for 3 days was a “darkness that could be felt.” That was for 3 days, but this darkness lasts forever!

It will have a terrible effect, continually, upon all those who experience it. The people who are unconverted and are not Christians are constantly in such danger, as at any moment they may stumble into Hell. As Hebrews 10:31 reminds us “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” It is a fearful thing to think about what will happen to us if we die unsaved.

The Good News of Jesus’ Claim
So what is the Good News? It is that into that realm of darkness, sin and misery, Christ has come! He says, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

That is the Gospel! Christ has come. The light of the world is Jesus! He has lived the perfect life that we could never have lived, and died the death that we would have died. Jesus says, "I am the light of the world..." No-one else is, or could be the light of the world. “In Him was life and the life was the light of men; and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not” (Jn 1:4-5). Christ is the Light of the world. In Him there is no darkness at all. The message of God's grace is shining into the darkness of this world and the darkness of your heart. In this dark, difficult and uncertain world, there is true life, peace and joy through Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The Bible teaches, “For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). God’s Word also says, “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col 1:12-13).

Do you know where you are going in this life? Do you know where you are going in the next life? Do you know the way? And if you do know, are you sure that you will get there?

We all need to be honest with ourselves and face up to the issue. Religion cannot save a soul, or bring a man to heaven. Religion is what men do, the Gospel is what Christ has done. The religious men in the account above would not listen, they refused the Light.

The whole history of mankind testifies to the need of the Light. Millions of people in the world are groping in uncertainty. You cannot depend on anything - not even your money. Jesus is the Way and He is the Light of the world. But the Light must be obeyed!

Those who follow Jesus Christ will no longer be in darkness but they shall receive the Light and they shall become children of Light. The Light of God will enter into them, and they will become increasingly sure and certain of where they are going.

Would you receive Christ, the Light of the World into your life, as Saviour and Lord?

William Hughes
- William Hughes has served as a pastor in UK and USA for over 40 years. He is now retired from full time ministry but continues to be a conference speaker in different countries including Singapore.

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