Follow the Light and Live // John 8

I am the light of the world.

Have you ever struggled to find you way in the dark? I still remember being in a dark and moonless night in New Hampshire as a kid. It was the first time I recall opening my eyes and it was pitch black darkness; I couldn't see my hand in front of my eyes. Have you ever had to make a decision with incomplete data? Have you ever tried to navigate a difficult relationship while groping for the right words and tact to take? In these moments we find ourselves frustrated, anxious and even fearful; however, this is what much of real life is like. Jesus reminds us that He is the Light of the World and following Him is life.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 8, we find Jesus interrupted in the temple by a group of religious leaders who present Him with a woman caught in adultery. Callously they are taking advantage of this woman's situation to catch Jesus in a bind (will He condemn her and lose public support or dismiss her sin and go against the law of Moses?). He silently writes in the dust and then standing tells them "He who is without sin, cast the first stone." They drop their rocks and leave. Jesus tells he to "sin no more." He has dealt with her sin with grace. The religious leaders were blindly and callously following the law and missing the heart of God around it.

Prior to this event in the temple, we're informed by John that the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths) was in full swing. It's a weeklong celebration that features singing, dancing, feasting, camping out and commemorates the Hebrew exodus from Egypt and journey to the promised land of Canaan.  Among the noted festivities was the lighting of a huge torch (to remember the Hebrews were led by the presence of God on the exodus; He was present as a pillar of smoke by day and fire by night). When lit in the temple court of women (aka treasury) it was said to be the light of the world. Jesus appropriates this image when He declares, "I am the Light of the world, he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life."

Jesus was declaring that He was the presence of God among them. Later in verses 54-59, He brings home His contentions in a discourse regarding Abraham, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad. So the Jews said to Him, 'You are not fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?' Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born I am.' Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple." The reaction of the religious leaders makes clear they understood Him to be equating Himself with the I Am of Exodus—Yahweh. Jesus is reminding us today that there is a way to out of the darkness that causes us to stumble in life; the way out is embracing Him. Do you believe God loves us this much?

Follow the Light and Live:  Jesus said to follow Him is to live. How do we follow Him?

3 Key Ways:

  1. To follow Jesus is to read God's Word to know His will.
  2. To follow Jesus is to pray for understanding His will.
  3. To follow Jesus is to act upon God's leading in your life.

To borrow from the Apostle Matthews' Gospel chapter 3 and verses 14-16, Jesus announced to His disciples, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in heaven."

Follow the light of the world into the world and bring life. You can change the world. You can make your home, work place, school or where ever you go better with your good works. When you walk in the light of Jesus you are bringing the Kingdom of God to life. Reading, praying and acting on God's Word you bring light to an otherwise dark world. You can do this. Be brave and bold. Trust Jesus. Don't strike back when struck. Don't gossip but speak kindly. Don't be a taker—be a giver. Help someone who has a need this week (the more out of your way the better).

There is enough, fear, loneliness, pain and suffering in our community. Go and be the healing light to your world.

Vince Armfield