We're gonna read from our bibles now. If you could find John 8 You'll find out on the Church Bibles on Page 10 74. I'm reading John 8 versus 12 to 30. When Jesus spoke against 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. For Pharaces challenged him. He, you are appearing as your own witness. Your testimony is not valid. Jesus answered, even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid.
For I know where I came from and where I'm going, but you have no idea where I come from or where I'm going. You judge by human standards. I passed judgment on no 1. But if I do judge, My decisions are true because I am not alone. I stand with the father who sent me.
In your own law, it is written that the testimony of 2 witnesses is true. I am 1 who testifies for myself. My other witness is the father who sent me. Then they asked him, where is your father? You do not know me or the father.
Jesus replied. If you knew me, you would know my father also. He spoke these words while teaching the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no 1 seized him, because his hour had not yet come. Once more, Jesus said to them, I am going away, and you will look for me.
And you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come. This made the Jews ask, Will he kill himself? Is that why he says where I go, you cannot come? But he continued.
You are from below. I am from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins.
If you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins. Who are you? They asked. Just what I have been telling you from the beginning, Jesus replied. I have much to say in judgment of you, but he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him, I tell the world.
They did not understand that he was telling them about the father. So Jesus said, when you have lifted up the son of man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own, but speak just what the father has taught me. The 1 who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone. For I always do what pleases him.
Even as he spoke, many believed in him. Tom's going to come now and preach on those words. Okay. Thank you for reading that to us, Ben. And as ever if you could keep the word of God in front of you, that would be that would be great.
We're arriving this evening at this second magnificent I am statement. You'll know there's a number of these in John's gospel. We've had 1 already. I am the bread of life. And here Jesus declares himself to be the light of the world.
So let's pray together as we look at it. Father, we thank you so much for the scriptures that you have given us. We thank you that the gift they are to us is amazing. And that they testify to the life that we can have in Jesus Christ. And we pray that as we look at these words this evening, you would give us listening ears and seeing eyes and believing hearts.
That we would understand more of our precious savior, what it means to live with him as our light and life and what it means to follow him in this dark world. And we pray these things in Jesus' name. Our men. Well, discipleship is 1 of those Christian words, isn't it? There there's a noun form of it, disciple, There's a lifestyle discipleship, which is the act of being a disciple.
There's discipling which is helping others to become disciples. There's a disciplaire who's 1 who provides that help, And there's probably many others. It is 1 of those Christian words, isn't it? And there's good reason for it. Jesus calls people to be his disciples.
In Matthew 8, he sends out Matthew 28, he sends out disciples into the world to make disciples of all nations. So the bible uses that word. But what does it mean? Well, following Jesus gets close to a definition of what it means. Have a look at John 8 verse 12.
I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness. So that helps us. But what does it mean then to follow Jesus? Do we mean like a king who is followed by his soldiers? Or a personal group of people who follow the laws?
Or do we mean like night follows day? Or as children follow the wisdom of their parents. In some ways, it includes all of those things. But essentially, a follower of Christ is 1 who is committed to him. They are committed to him as lord and savior, as truth and life.
As friend and guide as light. They want his words to illuminate all of their lives. They don't wanna leave anything in the darkness, but bring everything into the light of his word. That's what it means to follow him. I saw the results of a survey this week in a in a paper.
It was some kind of trustometer. And they were asking people what level of trust do you have in these various organizations and individuals? Right at the top of people's list with 87 percent of their trust was the family doctor. That's the most trusted figure in public life, the family doctor. Down at the bottom, Who do you think?
Specifically? Boris. Boris, with only 17 percent of the public's trust. Well, let's imagine that we added Jesus into that mix What level of confidence do you have in him? Or imagine it by subject, What level of confidence do you have in Jesus for your forgiveness?
Or for your eternity or for your place in heaven. Well, that's gonna be something like a hundred percent, isn't it? But what level of confidence do you have in Jesus for the way in which you spend your money. For the way in which you view the relationships that you ought to have. For the way in which you view the progress of your career or your illness.
Well, that might be somewhere near the bottom. But you see, that won't fit with what Jesus says in verse 12. I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. It's wonderful, isn't to follow Jesus Christ is to be in the light of God's salvation.
But this verse is also a summons It's a calling to bring all that we are into his truth. If we say to him, Jesus, you are the light of the world. You are my light. We are also saying to him, And therefore, I leave behind all darkness to follow you every part of my life in your light. That's discipleship.
That's a disciple. Now if you're here and you wouldn't yet call yourself a Christian, you might be thinking, Well, why would I ever do that? Why would I ever follow Jesus in that wholehearted way? His morals are okay, but there are so many guides on offer today, so many world views, so many explanation, so much self help. Why him?
Why look to him as light and guide. Well Jesus is going to answer that question for you in this passage tonight. Now so far, in John, Light and Dark have been a favorite theme. In John chapter 1, the gospel begins, the true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
That's John 1, 9 to 10. I don't know if you saw the recent story about it's been in the news past couple of weeks about an Indian boy who fell into a well. It sounds like the start of a joke, it's not. There was this 10 year old boy who fell into a well, and it was 60 feet deep. And for 5 days, about a hundred hours, this boy was trapped under his village.
And they had the videos of the diggers. They had to dig this tunnel from quite far away. And bring the tunnel down, 60 foot to where the boy was in the well, and they've got some of the first footage. Of those diggers breaking through and the light pouring into the bottom of the well. And everybody is rejoicing.
This boy is free. He can return to his family, light has come into this place of darkness. And most of the time, we know that when light enters the dark, it is a reason celebration. It's good news when something in the dark comes into the light. But not in John, Chapter 3 verse 19, this is the verdict.
Light has come into the world. It has broken through into the well. It has come into the deepest, darkest, 60 foot underground, but people loved darkness. Instead of light because their deeds were evil. And so here's the story so far.
The Lord Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world, has come down into the darkness of this world. He is our only hope and salvation and yet the biggest problem is that we don't embrace him as that, not because he hasn't been clear or we don't have enough information, but because we prefer sin and darkness to him. And in John chapter 8, this drama of light in the darkness is on stage again. We're seeing another example of what it looks like when the greatest light meets the greatest dark That drama is unfolding before us again here in John 8. So we're gonna pick it up at verse 12.
And the first point this evening, the first heading is the setting for the light. The setting for the light. Every candle needs a holder Every light bulb needs a shade. Every fire needs a fireplace or a fire pit. The light of the world comes to us within a setting.
In John chapter 8. Have a look with me at verse 20. It's a kind of by the way comment, but we're gonna see how significant it is. He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Now, in the temple courts, there were 4 main areas.
K? It's 4 main areas. You had the court of the gentiles in 1, the court of women, in 1 the court of the Israelites, in 1, the court of priests. Court of gentiles, Court of Women, Court of Israelites, the Court of priests, and then the main building. Now why was that second 1 called the Court of Women?
Well, not because Only women were allowed to go there. Men could go there. Women just weren't allowed to go beyond there. Now, to modern ears, that doesn't sound great. But listen to how Jesus transforms that place.
When he saw a widow putting in 2 copper coins, all she had to live on. Remember that story? He sees the widow putting in the copper coins. All she Where was he? He was by the treasury.
Where was the treasury? It was in the court of women. Mark 12, truly I tell you, he says to the men, This poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty, put in everything, all she had to live on. So in the court of women, Jesus lifts up this widow as an example of faith and Godliness.
Or you remember last week, Ben was opening up that story to us. Wonderful grace from Jesus for a woman who was caught in her sin. He doesn't excuse what she's done, but he doesn't condemn her. Where was he when that happened? Chapter 8 verse 2, At dawn, he appeared again.
Where was he? In the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach. Most likely, he was where he is now in the court of women. I think that fits. The religious leaders used the court of women as a place to embarrass and shame women.
They bring them there to humiliate them. Jesus uses the Court of Women to bring their mercy and raise them up as examples for everybody else. And so in person, the women couldn't go beyond the court of women, but when Jesus is there, he brings them into the holy of holies. Into the presence of God himself. And there's more.
The time of year is the feast of tabernacles. We've been learning that haven't we? That's where we are. It's the feast of tabernacles, where God's people remembered God's goodness to them in the wilderness. And how about this for a setting?
On the first day of that feast in the court of women, 4 golden lamps were lit. They were 75 feet high. That's like Abri 10 times up and more. Each 1, 75 feet high. In order for them to burn all night, it would take 20 liters of oil.
The wicks were made of discarded priestly robes, which were as thick as a man's thigh. And apparently, when those things were burning, on that first night, the feast of Illumination, it was said that not a courtyard in Jerusalem did not reflect the light. There was not a courtyard in Jerusalem, that did not reflect the light. Now what is that about? Well, again, it's back to the wilderness.
How did the lord guide his people when they were in the wilderness, a pillar of cloud by day, and at night from heaven, a pillar of fire. That's why they had this feast of light and illumination because in the darkness of the desert, God was their redeeming guiding light. But there's another reason they did that. The light and the Messiah also went together. You remember that famous verse from Isaiah 9 that we read every Christmas.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned. And so when these 75 feet high candles were lit, They did that in order to remember the light that God had shown them, but they also lit them in expectation. That the great light, the promised Messiah will 1 day come, could this be the year? Could this be the year when the light of the world comes into the deep darkness? And 1 more detail.
Apparently, these candles would be left up until the day after the festival. Lit on the first day, but they would be kept up until the day after the festival. And if you follow the timeline, that seems to be exactly where we are. In John 8. So it may well be that as those big 75 foot candles were being taken down, dismantled, and put away for another year.
Jesus looked over his shoulder, saw them coming down. And then turned to the crowds and said, I am the light that you will never have to put away. I am the light of the world. And so do you see how the setting for the light makes it so beautiful? If you want to see a diamond really sparkle you put it in a gorgeous frame and setting.
Well, this light finds himself there as well. So firstly, the setting for the light secondly let's look then at the light himself, the light of the world. Firstly, the second of the light, the the setting for the light, secondly, the light of the world. And in the original verse 12, is very forceful. It's like Jesus says, I I am the light, which is a little bit clunky, but deliberate.
He's wanting to emphasize it. I I am the light. And as I said, we've already seen this once in John 6 35, where Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. And the truth is, any Jew with any knowledge of the Old Testament would not miss the point. That is the name of the Lord God from Exodus chapter 3.
Moses said to God, suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask, what is his name? Then what shall I tell them? God said to Moses, I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites. I am, has sent me to you.
When the Lord Jesus Christ says, I I am. There can be no confusion. He is claiming to be the all knowing all powerful, promise keeping, world making, people redeeming Lord God. And when you then combine that with light, the whole sentence becomes even richer. What are the first words of the bible?
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty darkness was over the surface of the deep. The story of the bible begins not with light. It begins with darkness. It begins with an empty chaotic darkness, and yet the first words of God let there be light.
And billions of photons invade the darkness. Jesus Christ is the creating light of the world. We've already touched on those wilderness years. How would the lord guide his people, redeem from slavery? With a burning column of light, and the Lord Jesus Christ is that guiding light.
In Psalm 27, David says, the Lord is my light and my salvation. To be saved by the Lord is to be in the light. Jesus Christ is that saving light of the world. In the new creation, we will need no sun or moon, For the glory of God will give it light, and the lamb will be its lamp. Jesus Christ is the great light of heaven who will never go out and will illuminate all of his people forever.
And here is his word in John 8, anyone who believes in him, whether that be Jew or gentile or Samaritan, whether it be a high priest or an adulterous woman, anyone who follows him as creating, saving, guiding light. Will leave behind the darkness forever, and will have the light of life. When Jesus says, I I am the light, it is that loaded, the language that he uses. And so thirdly, let's look at the darkness that he exposes. We've seen the setting of the light.
We've seen the light himself thirdly. Let's look at the darkness he exposes. And if you've been following along this series in John's gospel, what comes next is sadly predictable. Verse 13, imagine responding to verse 12 this way, the pharisees challenge him. Here you are appearing as your own witness, your testimony is not valid.
And if you've been following this series, as I say, many of the arguments in this chapter we've seen before, I don't know if it felt like deja vu, when we were reading through it. Where are you going? Where are you from? Who is your father? Where did you come from?
Where is he from? Where are you going? Who's your testimony? What do we can't trust you? Now tonight, I don't wanna spend a whole load of time I'm picking.
All of those arguments because I think what Jesus says to them in verse 19 is the key thing. Jesus says, you do not know me or my father. If you knew me, you would know my father also. I don't know if you've ever had, issues with with flat pack furniture. You've bought it.
You've had it delivered. You're having a go at putting it up. You're convinced that you've read the instructions right. But then halfway through, you realize that something major has gone wrong. That panel should not be there.
It looks identical to the 1 that should, but it's now in the wrong place and it's the wrong way around. And guess what? In order to fix it, You can't just unscrew 1 or 2 screws. The whole thing has gotta come down again. You've gotta totally smantle it and rebuild up from the beginning.
Am I alone in that? Does that happen to you? You know, see a few nodding heads you know, it looks like you recognize the problem. And that that is like the pharisees problem. The pharisees get everything wrong because they don't put Jesus in the right place.
They don't have Jesus in the right place, and therefore the whole thing that they're constructing is out of order. They don't know Jesus and so they don't know the father. They don't know Jesus and so they don't know where he's from. They don't know Jesus, and so they don't know where he's going. They don't know Jesus, and so they don't understand how he judges.
They don't know Jesus, and therefore, they can't hear his testimony. Everything is badly constructed because Jesus is in the wrong place. And you notice, this isn't because they've read the instructions wrong. This is driven by their sin. 8 verse 21, once more, Jesus said to them, I am going away and you will look for me and you will die in your sin.
Where I go, you cannot come verse 23. You are from below. I am from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world.
I told you that you would die in your sins. If you do not believe that I am heat, you will indeed die in your sins. So what is the problem here? Instructions not clear enough, wrong equipment, Not enough tools, not enough witnesses. Now, Jesus says, the problem is you are from below.
You are from this world, you are of satan, and you are so committed to your sin that you will die in it. 3 times, he says to them. You are of this world, you will die in your sin. That is so serious, isn't it? You know, who is it talking here?
It's not just a prophet or a teacher or someone with some inside knowledge of the script. This is God himself. Imagine hearing those words from the lips of God you will die in your sin. If anyone knows it's him. The gospel is an unrelenting assault on false religion.
There are so many clever objections here There are so many reasons not to believe Jesus as there are today, but this is what it boils down to. We love darkness instead of light. We prefer sin to holiness. We'd rather have the world than heaven, and we choose ourselves over Christ. Sometimes that's very obvious.
People rage against God. They sort of tell him they don't wanna know him. Very often in our culture, it's just a polite rejection of everything that he is. But if we say no to the light, we will be born and we will live and we will die in the darkness. And here's the thing, if you want to know whether you are in the light or in the dark.
If you're here and you want to know whether you will live forever or die in your sin, there is 1 way to find out. 1 commentator says, the cross is the acid test. When we consider the death of the lamb of God, our true nature as children of light or children of darkness is exposed. The cross is the place where we find out, are we in the light or are we in the dark? And so fourthly and lastly, the greatest revelation.
Setting for the light, the light himself, The light exposes the darkness, fourthly and lastly, the greatest revelation, verse 28. So Jesus said, when you have lifted up the son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own. But speak just what the father has taught me. Now look, we could do a whole journey into the son of man. But briefly, it is a reference to Daniel 7 where 1 like a son of man is led before the ancient of days, and he is given all authority, all dominion, and a kingdom that will never end.
In their understanding, the son of man is Messiah, is Lord, is everlasting king. And as we learnt in chapter 3, for him to be lifted up is for him to be crucified. Verse 28, when you have lifted up the son of man or raised him or exalted him, then you will know that I am he. Now, he's not saying here that when I'm lifted up, you're all suddenly gonna be converted. When you put the son of man to death, then in that moment, all of you pharisees are gonna see.
He's telling us that the cross will be the place of greatest light. It will be the moment of great revelation where the holiness, love, and power of God will stream out into the world. From 1 angle, it was dreadful darkness. See the son of God, handed over to death. See the moment when God judges the sins of his people and condemns the world.
But from the darkness, the light of God's glory will be seen most spectacularly. When you lift him up, then you will know, you will see the undiluted glory of God streaming light light throughout the world. At the beginning, I said if you're not a Christian, you may think why would I ever look to Jesus? There is so many other guides. So many other options.
So many ways of explaining who I am. But no 1 has ever done anything like this for you. This is the god who made you who died as a substitute for your sin and was raised again. This is the God who can give you life and make sense of everything with his perfect light. When we consider the death of the lamb of God, Our true nature is exposed.
What do you see when you look at the cross? A religious symbol, a failure, a mistake? Or do you know in your heart that when you look at the cross, you see a revelation of God's glory, unlike anything else. If you don't know that here, then ask him. God, if you're there.
And if there's any light to be seen in this man on this cross, Will you open my eyes and show me the light of him and what he's done? And if you already do know Jesus, which praise the Lord, most of us will, then let me leave you with with this, an illustration, and an application. Almost exactly 10 years ago, to the day, a few months gone. Almost exactly 10 years ago, the film director James Cameron became only the third person to reach the deepest, darkest, place on the planet. It is over 7 miles beneath the surface of the ocean.
It's a place called Challenger Deep at the bottom of the Mariana trench. Just to put this into perspective, thousands of people have climbed Everest 12 have set foot on the moon. Only 3 have been to the deepest, darkest place on the planet. And in order to get there, you have to pass down through these zones. Now, I'm not gonna try to pronounce them.
But as you can see, the further down you go the darker it gets until you reach total, perpetual, forever darkness. That's called the Hidal zone, and it takes its name from hades, which means the underworld. It is the deepest, darkest place on the planet. And it struck me that as Christians, I think we can have these zones when it comes to Jesus. There are some areas where we swim very close to the light.
We're right at the top. We want to live in the light of Jesus to listen to him, to obey him, to love him. But if we're honest, there are other areas how we treat other people behind closed doors, how we talk when we're just with our non Christian friends, what we watch when no 1 else is looking, how we think about our health issues, which are somewhere down below. And truth be told, we don't want much light or any light in those places. But do you see what Jesus is saying here?
He loves us, and he wants us to live wholeheartedly in the light. He wants us with all that we are to swim on the surface and to live under the light of his truth. At the end of the gospel, John says, these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name. What does it mean to believe in Christ? It means to trust in him as savior, to live with him as lord, and with all that you are in every part of your life swim under the sunshine of his truth to live in the light.
Charles spurgeon, writing before high speed planes, said if the day should ever come, when the speed of the railway shall be equal to the speed of the world's motion, then a man may so live as to never lose the light. He that follows Christ, shall never walk in darkness. What a wonderful picture that is. The speed of the train matching the speed of the world's motion. Tracking with the sun as it moves across the world.
If you were in a position like that, you would never leave the light. Your whole life would be lived under the sunshine. That's what it means to be a disciple. To live all that we are for all of our days in the light of Christ. And so let's bow our heads.
And pray that that would be true for us. I'll give you a moment just quietly to pray and to respond to the lord and to talk to him about anything we've seen tonight. Father, we're sorry that even those of us who've been following you for years, still have areas of our lives where we don't really want the light coming in. Where we still want to retain some kind of darkness, to live under some kind of cover, to not bring certain areas of our lives into the light of your truth. And lord, we're sorry for that.
And we ask your forgiveness. And we pray that this evening might be a watershed moment for us. That we would bring those things into the light of your words and into the light of your truth. We thank you that to live in the light of Jesus is always good news. Thank you that he is our only savior who went into the darkness for us.
Thank you that he is our perfect guide who will never lead us astray. Thank you that he's our closest friend who always does what is best. Lord, we love him. And yet we're sorry that we don't live more closely with him. And so please help us lord to live in the light of Jesus.
And we ask it in his name. Ah, ma'am.