LIGHT – NOTES
John 1 – He is the Light (from 0:00 – 3:20): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsJXrbuzqOY&list=PLCpgggEg1JgogOpSQ795yBb5486QRlVFH
“Light of the world” – Adrian Snell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_zGivGNcWw
“Light of the world” – Lauren Daigle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WR5iwssnTn4
In John 8: 12 Jesus cries out to all the people:
‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’
Based on John 7 many scholars place Jesus’ claim at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles (a time when booths were built to dwell in – remembering the 40 years in the wilderness). Many traditions were observed by the priests during this festival. One of the last of which was the lighting of 4 large candelabra which were placed in the court of the women and whose light could be seen across the city. This light was to remember the pillar of fire which led the Israelites through the darkness – which the Jews understood to be the Presence of God Himself with them. It is said that it is NOW that Jesus declared “I AM the light of the world”. The claim that Jesus was making was not lost on His listeners.
Psalm 27: 1 has David saying “The LORD is my light”. And then Jesus says “I AM the light of the world” (John 8: 12). He said this in front of the Pharisees – they knew EXACTLY what His claim was. He was again claiming to be God.
OTHER VERSES WHERE JESUS CLAIMS TO BE THE LIGHT
“While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”
“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.
So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.
Then Jesus told them, ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.’
VERSES WHERE JESUS IS CLAIMED TO BE THE LIGHT
“I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations,
A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.”
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.
He [John] was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.
LIGHT DISPELS CHAOS
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light ‘day’, and the darkness he called ‘night’. And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day.
This, from Genesis 1: 1-5, speaks of a time when chaos was in the world. But, when God spoke, chaos was dispelled and darkness disappeared. The first creative act of God was to bring light into the world to do this.
Jesus, the Light of the World, has dispelled chaos. Where I see man going his own way – like in Brexit at national level, or in relationships at a local level – I invariably see chaos. Only Jesus, the “Light” brings order into the world and into our lives. Our enemy, the devil, wants darkness – chaos – but Jesus has overcome the enemy.
LIGHT OVERCOMES THE DARKNESS – A PERSONAL STORY
When I was at university I worked my holidays at a photographic processing company. Believe it or not my favourite job in this was to spend hours on end in the developing room – all on my own and in total silence except for the quiet sound of the machinery. No “safe light” was allowed here. All was done by feel in total blackout. Yet, after about 3 or 4 hours an incredible thing began to happen. The very walls would begin to glow and around all the edges I could see light seeping in. My eyes, used to the extreme darkness, began to see that light will ALWAYS penetrate the darkness – exactly as the Bible says.
LIGHT AND DARKNESS AS METAPHORS
Wiersbe writes (“He walks with me” p 47) “The people living on Planet Earth are very familiar with the sequence of day and night, so it’s no surprise that in many languages light and darkness are used as metaphors. Light usually symbolises what is good and darkness what is bad. For example, if you don’t understand what is going on you are ‘in the dark’; if you do understand, you are ‘enlightened’. In Scripture, light speaks of God (1 John 1: 56), and the darkness speaks of sin and Satan (John 3: 19-21). Sinners perform ‘deeds of darkness’ (Rom 13: 12), while God’s people live as ‘children of light’ (Eph 5: 8-13). Jesus called hell ‘outer darkness’ (Matt 8: 12)…while believers are called out of darkness and ‘into His wonderful light’ (1 Pet 2:9)”.
In the physical world the Sun (and the stars) are what give light and life to the world – without the Sun not only would all be in darkness, but all would die. In the spiritual world Jesus is the Light – without Him all would be in darkness and all would die.
In the physical world the earth revolves around the Sun – which is the centre of our Solar System. In the spiritual world we must revolve around the Light – and make Him our centre. Jesus is always in the centre –whether of the teachers in the Temple, those listening on the mount, between two sinners on the Cross, in the Upper Room after His resurrection or in the centre of the worshipping host in heaven of Revelation.
Those who are in darkness are said to be “blind” but those in the light are those who “see”.
Just as light is only really useful to one who can see, so the Light is only beneficial to the one who can spiritually see. Thus, the conclusion of the matter in John 8 is that the Pharisees took up stones to kill Jesus – for blasphemy – they knew exactly what He was claiming. And so Jesus left them – in their spiritual blindness. And what does He immediately do? He heals a man born blind – bringing both physical and spiritual light into one who believed in Him – who declared Jesus to be from God (John 9)
Jesus came to save us from the darkness of the devil and so had to enter this dark world where Satan held sway. That is why Isaiah said (9: 2):
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
In order to live as “children of the light” we must understand the truths that Jesus shared when He said “I AM the light of the world”.
TYPES OF LIGHT
So, we have seen that light and darkness are physical metaphors of spiritual truths. Think of how many sources of light you can: sun, moon, stars, fire, glow worms and deep sea fish, torches, light bulbs, street lamps. So many of these are modern – and we can hardly imagine what it would be to live in a world without artificial light. But to the people of the past the natural lights were wondrous things – so important that whole cultures worshipped the Sun and the Moon and saw the stars as holy people who had died.
We should not be surprised to see God the Father and God the Son described in terms of the Sun – for no other light was brighter, more powerful, more necessary to life.
“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.
because of the
tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.’
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.
His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand, And there is the hiding of His power.
And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.
For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.
LIVING AS CHILDREN OF THE LIGHT (EPHESIANS 5: 8; 1 THESS 5: 5)
We are living in a morally dark world and are encouraged by Paul to live in this morally dark world as “children of the light” – so it clearly means that we have got to be different!
Philippians 2: 14-16 tells us to:
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life
When Jesus lives in us – although we are not yet perfect – He will shine through us and, like stars in the sky, people will see Him through us. A lovely little metaphor of this is seen in the story of the 3 pots. One pot is perfect – this is like God. One pot is broken to pieces – this is us – smashed by the problems of the world and by our own sin and imperfections. But the third pot is one that has been broken but now lovingly pieced together – you can see all the joins and there are gaps where bits of pot are missing. But light a candle inside it and the light will shine out. We have been put back together again by the love and grace of God and, although not yet perfect, when He lives in us then His light will shine out through us.
Living as “children of the light”…
- …means accepting that Jesus is the Light who guides us in how to live:
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path. (Psalm 119: 105)
The Bible is our “light”, our “map” our “manual” on how to live. But, Jesus is the “Word” and so everything He said and did is also our “lamp” and “light” to show us how to live. So, we listen to His Word, meditate on it and obey it.
- …means putting Jesus at the centre of our lives and the centre of our church –
…not seeking our own desires but His, not seeking to have our way in the church but only His (even the disciples argued over who was the most important – Luke 9: 46).
- …means spreading the Light into the whole world:
This is our job. To go into the world and tell everyone the Good News that Jesus is the Light of the World. On Sunday June 25th 1865 a weary and sick Hudson Taylor visited a church in Brighton. But, when he saw then praising and rejoicing he had to walk out. His heart was challenging him: how could we be rejoicing in the Light when so many around the world were existing in darkness? He went straight out and set up the China Inland Mission.
Jesus says about His disciples in Matthew 5: 14-16 –
14 ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
- …means seeing the world as it really is – all that is wrong and un-Biblical – but also seeing the world as Father God sees it – with His great love of all the people, wishing for none to perish but for all to come to repentance and eternal life.
CONCLUSIONS AND CHALLENGES
- Jesus IS the “Light of the World” – consider what this means for you. How is He YOUR Light? How is He the Light of the world?
- Jesus IS the “Light of the World”. Are you living in His Light? Or are you still living in the “darkness”? And if it is the latter, then what are you going to do about it?
- YOU are the light of the world (says Jesus in His “Sermon on the mount”). Is His light shining through YOU for the world to see? If not, then what are you going to do about it?
APPENDIX: THE TEACHING OF STEVEN J COLE
We are to walk as children of light in this dark world (5:8-10).
Note two things:
A. TO WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT, WE MUST BE CHILDREN OF LIGHT (5:8A).
Paul does not say that we used to be in the darkness, whereas now we are in the light, although this is true (Col. 1:13; John 8:12; 1 Pet. 2:9; 1 John 1:5-7; 2:9). Rather, he says that we used to be darkness, but now we are light in the Lord. Being children of light implies that this profound change comes from God’s power in the new birth. It is an act of His creative power. Just as He at the first created light out of the darkness, so now He has changed us from being darkness itself into being light in the Lord.
Most of us have had the experience of visiting a cave where the guide turned off all of the lights for a few seconds (which always seem like minutes!). You can’t even see your hand in front of your face. For a few awful seconds, you realize what it would be like to be totally blind.
Paul says that we formerly were darkness. We were spiritually blind. We not only didn’t see God’s glory and truth, we didn’t have the ability or desire to see such things. We didn’t sense our need for the Savior, because we thought we were good enough to go to heaven and we didn’t understand the absolute holiness and justice of God. So we lived entirely for ourselves and our own pleasure, avoiding the thought of death and eternity.
But, when God saved us, He opened the eyes of our understanding so that we saw “the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). We saw our true condition as guilty sinners, but we also saw the all sufficiency of Jesus and His death on the cross to cover all our sins. We had a new understanding of God’s Word and a new desire to know God and His truth more and more. We now hate the sin that we formerly lived in and we long to be like our Savior, holy in all our ways. We now walk in the light, rather than in darkness, because God has made us light in the Lord.
While some of us (and I am one) can’t say exactly when this change took place, you know that it took place, because you know that God changed your heart. “You were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord” (5:8). To walk as children of light, you must be a child of light by God’s saving power.
B. BEING CHILDREN OF LIGHT, WE MUST WALK AS SUCH IN THE MIDST OF THIS DARK WORLD (5:8B-10).
Just because we are children of light does not guarantee that we will live that way. So Paul says, in effect, “Be what you are!” You are light; now, walk that way! He describes it in four ways:
(1). IF WE WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT, WE WILL BE GOOD.
Paul says (5:9), “for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness….” (The KJV has, “the fruit of the Spirit,” but “Light” is more strongly supported.) Goodness is one of God’s attributes, so to be good is to be like God. Applied to us, goodness is a broad term for behavior that benefits others ahead of oneself. A good person is concerned for the well-being of others, both spiritually and in every other way. He walks in daily dependence on the Holy Spirit, since goodness is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Since it is fruit, it takes time to develop. But over the years, children of light should be growing in all goodness.
(2). IF WE WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT, WE WILL BE RIGHTEOUS.
This refers to conformity to God’s righteous standards, as set forth in His Word. A righteous person is upright before God and before others. He is just or fair in how he treats others.
(3). IF WE WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT, WE WILL BE PEOPLE OF TRUTH.
In the context, the truth stands in contrast to the life of unbelievers, who are deceived (4:22; 5:6). But we have been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (4:24). Thus we are to speak the truth in love (4:15, 25). We are to be people of our word, maintaining integrity in all things. We shouldn’t have anything to hide, because we walk in the light. We are people of all truth.
(4). IF WE WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT, WE WILL LEARN WHAT IS PLEASING TO THE LORD.
Verse 9 is a parenthesis, so verse 10 goes back to verse 8 and summarizes what it means to walk as children of light, namely, that we prove by our experience what is pleasing to the Lord. “Trying to learn” translates a single Greek verb that is translated “prove” in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” As our minds are renewed through God’s Word, we prove in our experience what pleases God.
We do not determine what pleases the Lord by our own feelings, which fluctuate, or by what the world or other Christians say or think. We don’t even determine it by our own conscience, in that our conscience may be improperly informed. Rather, we learn what pleases the Lord through growing to understand His Word.
Living to please the Lord is a fundamental difference between the believer and the unbeliever. An unbeliever may be a good man and even be somewhat righteous or upright, at least outwardly. He may be truthful. But, he does it all out of selfish motives, for his own self-respect, or so that others will think highly of him. But, only believers live to please the Savior. We have a new personal relationship with this One who snatched us out of a horrible pit. We now evaluate everything we do by the question, “Does this please the Lord, who loved me and gave Himself for me?”
So, the first requirement for living in this dark world is to be children of light and to walk as children of light, doing everything to please the Lord.
2. As children of light in this dark world, we are to expose the deeds of darkness (5:7, 11-14).
In 5:7, Paul says, “Therefore do not be partakers with them.” Them refers to the sons of disobedience, who are under God’s wrath (5:6). Not being partakers with them is the same thing that Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18:
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.
Then, in Ephesians 5:11-12, Paul adds, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.” We should not be interested in hearing gossip about the movie stars’ latest sexual sins. Such talk should repulse us. Instead, Paul says, we should expose such sins. What does he mean?
In the context, he seems to mean that by our lives (primarily) and our words (secondarily) we expose the unfruitful deeds of darkness for what they are: disgraceful sin in God’s holy presence. Jesus used this word (John 3:20) when He said, “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” He continues (3:21), “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
In other words, by the obvious difference in how we live, our lives expose the sin of those that are engaging in the unfruitful deeds of darkness. As Paul says (Eph. 5:13), “But all things become visible when they are exposed [same word] by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” That last phrase is difficult, but Paul seems to be arguing that light not only exposes, but also transforms (at least some of the time). J. B. Phillips (The New Testament in Modern English [Geoffrey Bles], p. p. 407) paraphrased it, “It is even possible (after all, it happened with you!) for light to turn the thing it shines upon into light also.”
To illustrate, living in Flagstaff, where it’s cold in the winter with lots of snow, our cars get caked with the salt and grime from the roads, so that after a few weeks of regular snowstorms, they look pretty bad. But, everyone else’s car looks as bad as mine, so I don’t think much about it. But, if I have to drive down to Phoenix, where it’s warm and sunny, I am suddenly surrounded by clean cars! Those clean cars expose the filthiness of my car and make me want to go straight to a car wash. Our clean lives expose the sin of unbelievers’ lives. As God works in their hearts, it often drives them to get their sins washed at the cross.
Let me set out the balance of how we expose the deeds of darkness this way:
A. WE EXPOSE THE DEEDS OF DARKNESS BY OUR GODLY LIVES AS WE MAINTAIN PROPER SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD.
If we’re no different in our thinking, attitudes, words, and behavior than those that do not know Christ, we have no message to give them. If you profess to know Christ, but you’re not walking in the light, conforming your life to His Word, then please do not let unbelievers know that you claim to be a Christian! If you’re comfortable with your sinful lifestyle, you may not be a genuine Christian. But whether you are or not, don’t link the holy name of the Lord with your disobedient lifestyle (2 Sam. 12:14).
But, if you’re walking in the light, you can no longer join in the lifestyle of unbelievers. As 1 Peter 4:3-5 puts it,
For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
As you separate yourself from that kind of sinful lifestyle and live to please the Lord with all goodness, righteousness, and truth, your godly life exposes the dirty lives of those around you.
B. WE EXPOSE THE DEEDS OF DARKNESS BY OUR GODLY LIVES AND WORDS AS WE MAINTAIN PROPER CONTACT WITH THE WORLD.
Don’t go out of the world, or you lose any contact for witness. The Corinthian church was confused about this. They had mistaken Paul’s command not to associate with immoral people to mean that they cut off contact with unbelievers. And yet they were welcoming a sinning believer into their fellowship! Paul didn’t mean that they should break off contact with the world. Rather, they should cut off contact with any so-called brother who is immoral or sinning (1 Cor. 5:9-11). Here are four guidelines to follow as you seek to maintain proper contact with this dark world:
(1). BE ON GUARD—BAD COMPANY CORRUPTS GOOD MORALS!
You should not be best friends with an unbeliever once you have come to Christ. Your deepest friendships must be with those that share in common a love for Jesus Christ and the things of God. For a believer to enter into a close friendship, business partnership, or marriage with an unbeliever is to violate the clear command that we read earlier (2 Cor. 6:14-18). If you do not distance yourself from your former friendships, those godless friends will pull you back into your old way of life. But, what about witness?
(2). BE ALERT TO YOUR PURPOSE—TO WIN THE LOST TO CHRIST.
Jesus was known as a friend of sinners, but He did not hang out with them to have a good time. He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). He said that He didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32). He kept a fine balance that is difficult to imitate: He maintained His holiness and yet He put sinners enough at ease so that they listened to His message.
It is in this sense that we must interpret Ephesians 5:14 (a difficult verse). Most likely it cites an early Christian hymn based on Isaiah 60:1, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” Paul cites it as an example of the directives he has just given. It pictures the exposure of an unbeliever to the light with a view to his salvation. He is asleep and dead. God calls him to awake and arise, resulting in the light of Christ shining upon him. It does not imply that dead sinners are able in their own strength to arise from the dead, which would contradict the metaphor. Rather, with the command, God imparts the power to obey, just as when Jesus called out, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43). Light not only reveals sin; it also dispels the darkness. So we can call on sinners to awake and arise, knowing that God may impart the power to obey, resulting in them becoming children of light, with Christ shining on them.
(3). BE SENSITIVE TO SHOW CONCERN FOR THE WHOLE PERSON.
Jesus said (Matt. 5:16), “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Often, of course, we must tell people the message of the gospel. But that message must be backed up with genuine concern for the whole person. If someone is hungry, feed him and tell him about Jesus. The fruit of the light consists in goodness, which means, good deeds that show love for people. In that context we are able to give verbal witness to the gospel.
(4). BE BOLD TO IDENTIFY VERBALLY WITH CHRIST WHEN YOU ARE PRESSURED TO COMPROMISE YOUR CONVICTIONS.
This gets back to how you respond to dirty jokes or to someone who wants you to view pornography. Here’s the principle: Be as bold in your witness for Christ as the other person is in his solicitation to evil. If they are bold for Satan, why shouldn’t you be just as bold for the Savior? Smile and say firmly, “That offends my Lord,” or, “I can’t do that.” If he presses the matter, say, “I used to love that sort of thing, but now I belong to Jesus Christ and I want to please Him.” And share your concern for him, that he is under God’s judgment, but that Jesus offers him a full and free pardon if he will repent and believe in Christ.
The church growth movement tells us pastors that we should make the church a place where unbelievers feel comfortable. So, we’re supposed to avoid subjects like sin, righteous living, and the coming judgment. Instead, we’re to focus on how to have a happy family, how to do well in business, how to overcome your addictions, and other upbeat topics. In other words, we’re not supposed to expose the unfruitful deeds of darkness, so that we don’t offend anyone. Just tell them how much God loves them!
But Jesus said that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict (same Greek word as “expose”) the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Without that conviction, unbelievers will not see their need and flee to the Savior. Forgiven little, they will love Jesus little. Paul’s strategy is better: Walk as a child of light, maintaining proper separation from the world and proper contact with the world. As you do, your godly life and words will expose the deeds of darkness. Some will awake from the dead and Christ will shine on them, as He has on you.
- If we openly rebuke someone for a dirty joke, it may cut off all future opportunity for witness. How can we be tactful and yet show disapproval?
- Do you agree that Christians should not have unbelievers as their closest friends? Why/why not? Cite Scripture.
- Since no one is perfect, how godly should we be before we tell others about Christ? What guidelines apply?
- Some argue that believers should frequent taverns and have a few beers to witness to those in the taverns. Agree/disagree?
Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2008, All Rights Reserved
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation