I want to speak with you about Jesus this morning. You might have guessed my sermon would be about Jesus. And that's what it is. Jesus, the light of the world. The light of our life.
One dark, cold, stormy night in Wales there was a gentleman who was walking home from work. It was dark and so he had a lantern. He normally walked that path. It was cold and so he put the lantern underneath his overcoat to keep him warm. He thought, I know the way. I've walked this path many times. The moon was not out. It was extremely dark. He was kind of cautious. He thought, I think I'm on the path. Then a gust of wind blew his coat open and the light beamed out and he realized, just a few more steps and he would have been down in the quarry, over the edge of the precipice to the rocks below. Kind of scary. From then on he took the light out from underneath his coat. Better to be safe than it is to be warm, and that's where it was. He decided he needed the light.
Our Scripture today that I'm going to base this entire sermon on is in John 8:12. A wonderful verse. Words of Jesus. When Jesus spoke again to 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. Is Jesus the light of your life? What lights you up? Is it money? Is it sex? Is it some worldly thing that lights you up? What lights your candle? Hopefully, it's Jesus. He's the light of life.
In fact, the very first gift that God gave this world was what? Light. In Genesis it says let there be light. Even God himself, even the creator, couldn't do much without light. In the darkness you can't do much. I suppose the darkness is a good time for crime. A good time for robberies and those types of things.
Had there been no light, I would like to suggest to you, creation could not have continued because if you create all that grass and all those apple trees and all those fish and grizzly bears, how could they exist without light? Impossible. Imagine a surgeon going through a delicate operation and all of a sudden the lights go out. Then what? Some of you who work in hospitals, you can't exist without light. Spiritually, what can we do in darkness? We are totally dependent on the light, and that light is what? Jesus Christ.
There are a certain number of men in a certain Indian tribe who have this ritual. They rise every morning early, before the sun comes up, and perform an ancient ceremony that they believe causes the sun to come up. In fact, every time they do it, the sun does come up. So that's proof. They feel like if they would neglect that, the world would be plunged into darkness.
A lot of Christians are like that. We think, without my efforts, without my work, salvation wouldn't happen. Hey, it is Jesus who is the light of the world. It is Jesus who is our Savior. All I have to do is just enjoy it and accept it and serve him. Jesus is the light. Salvation is simple. It's pretty easy.
Jesus made this famous statement when he was in the Temple. In fact, he was inside of the temple treasury. It was called the court of women. This was a very busy place every day of the week, but especially on Sabbath. They brought their money by. They deposited into 13 treasure chests. They were like big golden piggy banks and when the worshipers came in, the first two were for church expense. Number three and four were for buying pigeons. Number five was for buying wood to keep the fires going on the altar. Number six was for incense. Some were for the upkeep of the golden vessels. Others for trespass offerings and thank offerings and so forth.
Jesus says that he was the light of the world. On a dark evening on the first day of the feast of Tabernacles during a ceremony called the illumination of the Temple, they had four great candelabras in that place. They were lit and the blaze put out a tremendous light and at that moment Jesus said, I am the light of the world. And he is. My light will not flicker. My light will not go out like these. My light is an eternal light. Proverbs 4:16 says the path of the righteous is like the first gleam of the dawn shining ever brighter until the full light of day.
Today I think the greatest need of the world is light. True light. A rose won't blossom unless it sees the sunshine, and you will never flower, you will never produce fruit in your life unless Jesus, the light of life, is the light of your life. I want Jesus to illuminate my path. Never make a decision in the darkness. You'll experience regrettable consequences.
Back in the old days, before electricity, a miserly old farmer was taking his hired man to task for carrying a lighted lantern when he would go calling on his girlfriend. He said, when I went a-courtin', I never carried one of them things. I always went in the dark. The hired man said, yes, and look what you got. Don't make decisions in the dark. Expose yourself to the light of the world. Have you looked so long on his face that you are reflecting some of that light? I hope so.
We used to live in North Carolina and I heard this story of the North Carolinian. This man lived in a cabin beside the creek and he found a beautiful rock in the creek. Wow, that is so unique. It was heavy and he brought it in. He used it as a door stop in his cabin for years and years. One day a geologist came into the cabin and said, that rock. Where did you get that? He said, out of the Creek. The geologist said, May I hold it? Yes. He said, this is a gold nugget. In fact, it turned out to be the largest gold nuggets ever found east of the Rocky Mountains. A huge thing, and this man had failed to recognize the treasure. So many of us fail to recognize the treasure. The treasure is Jesus, the greatest thing in the world. It could be that some of us are using Jesus as a door stop. We have the light of the world. What are we doing with Jesus. He doesn't want to be a unique door stop. He wants to be a unique Saviour. There's no salvation without Jesus.
It seems to me when I go shopping at Barnes & Noble or Books A Million, it seems to me that we are becoming a world of more and more darkness. I go to some of those places and I look at some of the magazines and I think, ohhhhh. Some of the books. There is intense interest in darkness and witchcraft and paganism. There's nothing new about the new age. It's just old darkness. That's all it is. Jesus is the light of the world.
Point number two. You must advance because the light is moving. John 8:12, our Scripture reading. He says, I am the light of the world and whoever follows me will never walk in darkness. You've got to follow because that light is advancing. It's moving, and if you stay stationary in your Christian life, you will lose the light. You've got to keep advancing. The followers must keep up.
We were camping over in the Smoky Mountain national Park and we had a campfire and the campfire experience was beautiful but it ended and it was time to go back to our tents. One person had a lantern and none of the rest of us had brought flashlights and so they said, come on. There were about seven of us in that group and we walked from the campfire a long way back to our tents. It was a dark night. As we went down a steep trail, we had to keep up with the person who had the lantern. The light was advancing and I guess if that would've been daytime, we would've looked like an awful chummy bunch because we were all huddled together following the light of that lantern. I love the light. Proverbs 4:17. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness and they do not know what makes them stumble. You need light. It's impossible to be in the dark and to be near Jesus, because if you're near Jesus you're going to be in the light.
An allegory illustrates this truth. Once upon a time there was a cave that lived under the ground, where most caves live, and it had spent its entire lifetime in the darkness. One day the cave heard a voice coming from the opening and the voice said, come up into the light, and the cave said, I don't know what you mean. There isn't anything but darkness. Finally the cave did venture forth and after he ventured forth he was surprised to see light everywhere. To his knowledge there was no light. Looking up at the sun he was astounded and he said, come with me to see the darkness, and the sun said, what is darkness? The cave said, well, come and see. I'll show you. So the sun entered the cave and said, now show me your darkness. But there was none. Light is stronger than darkness. In fact, darkness is just the absence of light.
You know you need to stay near Jesus. When you are near the light you can't be in darkness. John 3:19. The light has come into the world but men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. As Christians you must go where the light goes or be left in darkness. And the light will only benefit you if you stay close to Jesus. Follow him in salvation. Follow him in baptism. Have you followed Jesus in those ways? Follow him in service. Follow him all the way til he leads you home.
Number three. The closer you walk with Jesus the greater light you will have. That makes sense, doesn't it? Stay close to Jesus.
I think we live in one of the darkest periods in the history of the world. Violent crime. Drug abuse. You turn on the news and you hear about all these moral allegations of coaches who have not been able to control themselves. You see all kinds of horrible things. Perversion. Broken homes. Political corruption. Terrorism. Starvation. Moral cancer is eating away at the foundations of life. What this world needs is the warmth of light. To be a warmer place and not such a cold frigid place. Light gives warmth. They tell me that one small candle, properly reflected, can raise the temperature of a well built igloo from below freezing to almost 45°F. Jesus can warm your heart. If He comes in your whole life will become warmer.
Jesus doesn't force himself upon us. Lighthouses don't have to have sounding bells to cause you to look at their light. They just emit their light, and Jesus beckons you to come. The dark world would be a better place if we were all reflectors, better reflectors of the light of Jesus Christ.
There was a small boy at an elementary school in a presentation. His mother was in the front row and the youngster was up on the platform and she was on the front row to prompt him. She gestured, she formed the words with her mouth so that he would know, but finally his memory went blank and he couldn't remember anything. Finally she leaned forward and whispered the next phrase that he was supposed to say. I am the light of the world. And it all came back to him. He beamed with great feeling and said in a loud clear voice, my mother is the light of the world. Don't ever think you are the light of the world. You are a reflector of the light of the world.
Point number four. You personally can have the light of life. You personally can have this light that I am speaking of, because light is essential. In John 1:4 it says, in him was life and that life was the light of men. The light of what? The light of men. Men and women, boys and girls. The light of people. Jesus is the light that lights up people. His life lights us up. You may say, well my husband is lit up by this or my wife is lit up by that. I hope you're lit up by Jesus.
I have tried from this pulpit for 25 years to uplift Jesus to you, and what better theme than Jesus Christ. Jesus.
Without light you can't do much. All vegetation would wilt and die without light. If the sun quit this world would soon freeze up and we would enter an Ice Age and we would all be dead. Even coal and oil that we heat our houses with and drive our cars with would not have existed without light in the first place, because it all came as the result of growth caused by light. Light drives most of our engines because we bottle that light up in coal or oil for hundreds of years, maybe thousands of years. It's just latent light, latent energy again brought forth and made to work and produce steam and produce power for us. But Jesus is the source of all light.
Recently, my wife and I put solar panels on our roof and every time there is light we receive power. We receive power from light. If you're Christian life is limp and weak, you just simply need to expose yourself to the light. To Jesus. Do you do this every day? Do you read the Bible every day? I read it this morning. I read it every morning. Expose yourself to Jesus. Let him power your life. When Jesus came to this old dark world there was no light. When he left, there was no darkness.
There was a businessman who was 45 years old. He was driving his car up in Canada. It was a beautiful sunshiny day. Everything was going fine, and then he noticed some drops of rain in one corner of his windshield. He thought, that's odd. Then the drops quickly came across the whole windshield, and then the drops all began turning dark. Finally it was so dark he pulled over, and within seconds everything was just total darkness. He had gone completely blind, for the rest of his life. That happens in one form or another with 30,000 people every year. You never know when it might happen. Blindness settled upon him.
God only knows how many of us go spiritually blind every year. I would say it would be more than 30,000. In second Corinthians 4:4 I read this statement. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. You know, Jesus is the light of the world. Expose yourself to Jesus.
My wife and I came back from Cohutta Springs this week. We were driving back and we were noticing the various Christmas lights along Apison Pike, different places here in Collegedale. Beautiful Christmas lights. People have them on their eaves. They have them as icicles on their gutters. They have them on trees, on bushes, on poles, fences, everywhere. It's beautiful. I love the lights of Christmas. It's time for celebrating the light, and Jesus is the true light that you want to celebrate.
Every month we have to pay our electric bill but Jesus is the free light that you will have in this old dark world. You can't earn it. All you have to do is accept it. I urge you to accept Jesus today as your personal guiding light and stay close to the light. Lights are made for dark places and this old world, the Lord only knows, needs more light. John 8:12, our text, says, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness. Why not? Because we will have the light of life. You can't be in the dark if you live under a streetlight all the time. Jesus said I am the light of this dark world. Look unto me, your days will be bright. Bright.
I want to urge my beautiful flock to look to Jesus. Please, look to him, and I'm saying this in the continuous tense. Look at him and KEEP looking at Jesus. Every day, every moment; and if you do, you will find in him your star, your beacon of hope, your guidance, as we all continue to follow the light. May God bless us as we keep following Jesus.
Hymn of Praise: #122, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing Scripture: Psalms 103:8-11 Hymn of Response: #123, As With Gladness Men of Old Sermon Notes: Sermon notes available as PDF
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 12/26/11