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Sermon 2019-12-25 Ross Woodhouse

 

Light of the World.

We’ve just heard in the scripture readings about who Jesus is, the light of the world. He is the light that is God, that helps us see God, that helps us know God. Christmas is a celebration of this light, Jesus, given to us as a son, for the salvation of all who *might believe. But Christmas is more than a celebration, it is an acknowledgement, it’s ‘yes God, you did this, for me, thank you for this great gift’.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:4-5). The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. (John 1:9)

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. (John 12:46)

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

…he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Where Jesus is when he says these words is important to appreciating who he is and what him being light of the world means…picture the scene…

He’s in Jerusalem, in the temple courts, and there are 1000, s of people gathered for one of the great feasts of the year. Jesus is in the most populated part of the temple.[1] One of the main ceremonies during this Feast was the Illumination of the Temple. Four enormous stands, each with four golden bowls filled with oil, so huge they needed to be reached with a ladder. So when these things were lit up at night, the light shone out all over Jerusalem. This great blaze lit up every courtyard in the city, and it burned all night long.[2]

In that setting, Jesus finds himself a spot and announces, “I am the light of the world”, not a light, “the” light! And then begins an exchange with the Pharisees, the spiritual authorities. “You are who?” “What are you saying, your claims simply cannot be true?” They didn’t understand, they were conflicted, because they didn’t want to believe. When Jesus said, “I am the light of the world,” they saw no light.

For centuries this promised Saviour had been spoken about through the prophets, they could quote all the scriptures off by heart, but that was no help to them with their hardened hearts.  At the end of the same chapter John says even as he spoke many put their faith in him (8:30). That was the response to Jesus’ message…many who were initially blind to what Jesus was saying, heard the truth and responded to the truth so they could have the “light of life”. The life that gives the light.

You know someone said once it takes greater faith to believe Jesus doesn’t exist than the faith to believe he does, because the evidence is so overwhelming.

…he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

If you look in the dictionary, a definition of light is something that makes vision possible. In a physical sense, light makes it possible for us to see in the dark. Without light, we are blind to our surroundings, situations and circumstances, blind to even ourselves. Light makes it possible for us to see things as they really are.

Think of the simple electric light, most of us probably don’t think twice about flicking a light on when we need to, but it becomes pretty important all of a sudden when the power goes off. Perhaps we realise we take this privilege for granted?

I wonder if there’s an even greater, Light, we take for granted, Jesus.  Oh, it’s just Jesus (motion flick light).  But he’s not just Jesus! There was a moment when in the heart of God, he looked at humanity on the earth and said, now is the time, called a team talk with the angels made his plans, then sent the angel to Zechariah…

That Jesus is the light of the world doesn’t mean the whole world is being lightened by Him, it’s not, not yet anyway. It means he is the only light in the entire world, the only means of hope in the entire world. It means anchored to Jesus the light we’re able to navigate our way through life…

Out at sea a battleship and the crew were practising a number of manoeuvres and the ship’s lookout noted a light in the dark, foggy night. After noting the light’s coordinates, the captain recognized his ship was on a collision course with what appeared to be another vessel. The captain gave the order: “Signal the ship: We are on a collision course; we advise you change course 20 degrees.” The return signal countered, “Advisable for you to change your course 20 degrees.” The captain signalled again, “I’m a captain, change course 20 degrees.” The response was, “I’m a seaman second class, you’d better change your course 20 degrees.” By this time the captain was furious and angrily ordered, “I’m a battleship. Change course 20 degrees, NOW” The reply: “I’m a lighthouse. You make the call.”

The message here is the light will save you. Carry on the course you’re taking, deaf to the truth, unaccepting of the light and you’re on a collision course.

Jesus, God’s only son, introduced into this world as a baby, fully human, to live and then die as God’s own answer to our sin, because he, God, is willing that no person should perish, but that all should have life with Him in eternity.  God says in this dark world, I’ve made a way available, here’s my son Jesus, he’s the light, believe in him, trust him, follow, him.

The only alternative to Jesus is being in the dark, but he says, “whoever follows me will never walk in darkness”.

He’s not dreamt up, fictitious, just a name in a book. All of us ask the question at some point – is Jesus real? It’s a yes or no answer! Mary’s immaculate conception was real, Jesus born as a babe was real, Jesus’ death and resurrection were real. All real. We, have Christmas, because of Christ…the greatest gift you could receive this Christmas is him, it’s free, it’s a “yes” away…

Before Jesus, most of the world was spiritually blind. It was unable to see spiritual reality. Blind because people had rejected God.

In the song authored in 1772, and performed approximately 10 million times annually[3], John Newton says “I was blind, but now I see”. What was Mr Newton referring to? God’s amazing grace – that is, God being willing to give us something we do not deserve – Newton says, “whoa…now I see it! God has opened my eyes to see who he is, who I am and now I’ve got to do something about it…”

“Jesus said, ‘…I came into this world, that those who do not see may see.’”. (John 9:39-41). Jesus came as the light to help a blind world, a world imploding and revelling even in its dark and dangerous state, to regain its sight.

Can we say today, ‘I was blind, but now I see, I see you Jesus, I believe’. When we respond to the light that is Jesus, the Holy Spirit does a work in us, the eyes of our hearts are opened and then we have the light of life. “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light”[4]

Are we walking in the Light today or are we still in darkness?

*Christmas, means that God himself was willing to come into a dark place and bring the light of salvation. Because of Him, salvation is available to all of us. Christmas is the event that marks the coming of Jesus the light of the world.

 

 

[1] Temple Court of the Women

[2] https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/four-great-reasons-to-follow-jesus-christ-rick-crandall-sermon-on-heaven-242098?ref=SermonSerps and NIV Comms, Burge

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace

[4] John 8:12