This weekend I took my kids to the pool down in Faribault. It was the first day we’ve had sun in what felt like forever.
The sun came out and I thought I’d head out to the pool. I love being out in the sun, but I have to say that at the beginning of summer, I always get burned. The sun is powerful.
It’s crazy to think that light so far away can cause so much damage. I think light is fascinating. Once you have light, darkness goes away. That is the nature of light. I love to look at the stars at night and think that those are lights that are billions of miles away. Or that the moon, the moon is just a reflection of the light of the sun. Does that blow your mind? I mean the sun is such a powerful light that it’s reflection can light up our entire sky?
I am… For the next few weeks we are going to be talking about the identity of Jesus. Last week we talked about the significance of the ‘I am’ statement. ‘ I am’ is the name God chose for himself in the Old Testament. Haya, we say ‘Yahweh’ (or He is.) So when Jesus makes this I am statement, last week we looked at his statement of ‘I am He,’ when he was asked if he was the messiah. I am… in this very simple statement, Jesus is connecting himself to God the father. He is making a claim of deity.
Today we are going to look at another claim… but this one is multifaceted. I am the light of the world. Again, I want to go back to the Old Testament. What was the first thing God created? Light. And after God created light, he separated it from the darkness. Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but with have the light of life.”
So I want to start here. Jesus is the light of the world. Where did the light of creation come from, well it came from God. It came from the word of God. God sent the light into the world to offer distinction from the darkness. The very presence of light means that it is different, set apart from darkness. Jesus is talking to the Pharisees here, the Pharisees, experts in Jewish Law. They would understand what Jesus is saying. He is saying, connecting himself to the very beginning of the world itself, attaching himself to God in the process and then saying that he is the standard, the standard of light which is separate from darkness.
This is huge. And the Pharisees, kind of miss it. Jesus is talking about light and darkness, life and goodness itself.
Now the Pharisees just don’t get it. They begin talking about his testimony; basically they are saying prove it. You can say anything you want, I could claim to be superman. They say specifically, your are testifying on your own behalf so it doesn’t count. They are talking about the reliability of Jesus. When Jesus is talking about his connection to God.
Once again, the Pharisees, the ones who should understand, aren’t even close to getting it.
Jesus, by his own definition is separate from the darkness. You cannot get more pure or perfect, there is not darkness in him.
Jesus is the light of the world.
So why are the Pharisees talking about testimony and judgments?
Well, there is a good reason, or a couple of good reasons.
Just before this in chapter 7, the Pharisees, and many others were debating and discussing with Jesus if he is the Christ. They were talking about what town he was from and could he really make such a claim, and on what basis. This discussion in Chapter 8 is a continuation of this conversation. People were ready to seize him then. This was an intense conversation! The frustration came because Jesus could not prove and no one could prove he was the Christ. And in the Mosaic Law, or Jewish Law, the only way something would ever be accepted as truth, something contested, was if there were multiple witnesses. So they are accusing Jesus of not being able to follow the Mosaic court system.
But in between there is this little episode. And really, to be fair, it is important to note that this little episode is not included in the earliest manuscripts of this book. However, it is adds to this debate. It is the story about the woman who was about to be stoned for adultery. This woman had gone through the Jewish court system and was about to receive the punishment they felt she deserved after being found guilty. Jesus steps in and says to the crowd ready to stone her and says that the man who is without sin can cast the first stone.
Of course, no one casts a stone. So then Jesus asks the woman, after everyone has left, and asks if anyone is left to condemn her. So Jesus says, I don’t condemn you either, go and leave your life of sin.
I see why perhaps this episode may have been added later. Now this is not to say that it didn’t happen, but remember, John is writing the story of Jesus and this event makes a lot of sense in the middle of this debate about Jesus authority.
Here we see that the Mosaic Law has failed, has become human, has fallen to their own corruption. The mosaic system, as it had evolved was not the answer to their problems, was certainly not the answer to their sin.
So Jesus responds to all of it, “I am the Light of the World.” I am the one to cast out the darkness, to cast the darkness to its place. The Pharisees want to talk about law, Jesus wants to talk about light, about life. The Pharisees are caught up in the technicalities and Jesus is looking at the big picture.
Jesus is bigger than any law given to man, because Jesus is light. It isn’t law that separates people from sin, it is light.
This is Jesus. Jesus is the Light of the World. The Pharisees have taken their faith and reduced it to a bunch of rules, of law… Jesus is pushing back, arguing that faith is about life with God and when we walk with Jesus, we are walking in the light, light that casts our darkness.
We are looking at the identity of Jesus, because, like the Pharisees, so many have reduced their faith to a series of rules.
We go to church on Sundays, or at least most Sundays. We definitely go on Christmas and Easter. We get our kids baptized. We might make them go through confirmation. We do this and we don’t do this… we are ‘good Christian people.’
But for Jesus, faith wasn’t about rules, it was about light. It was about living and walking in the light, casting out darkness.
So how do we walk in the light? Well Jesus says, whoever follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.
What do we know about following Jesus from this scripture?
First of all, Jesus is clear. Jesus is about following God, about his connection to God. His identity is completely wrapped up in his relationship with God. How is your relationship with God? Are you seeking to please God? I’m not talking about just being a good person. Anyone can be a good person, but do you do the right thing not for yourself, but as an act of worship to God? Do you even think about God during your day?
So often today we either reduce our faith to a series of rules or superstition. It’s either God is some angry father punishing us and doesn’t want us to have any fun or God is some pie in the sky being that might be there, and just in case, I’ll go to church and occasionally pray.
This is not faith. Faith has to do with a relationship with God, walking with God in the light of life.
What else do we know about following Jesus from this scripture? Well, we know that Jesus is full of grace. Following God is not about condemning others, rather it is about inviting others to be in the light. Jesus is pleading with the Pharisees to understand. Jesus wants to bring them on this journey, inviting them to walk in the light. Jesus is full of grace. With the adulteress woman, Jesus is full of grace. Jesus has grace for the sinner and the saint, and clearly we all need it.
Jesus is the light of the world, and when we walk with Jesus, we walk in the light. Jesus wants us to be so connected to God that our very existence not only points to the light but shares the light. Like the sun and moon, Jesus wants us to connect to the light, and share the light. Because the light is life.
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