Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night. Thine eye diffused a quickening ray – I woke, the dungeon flamed with light. My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth and followed Thee! – And Can It Be, Charles Wesley
Sailing around the islands of Scilly to get to England is dangerous business. For centuries many ships sank after crashing into the small rocky outcrops. Then, in the 1800’s, England did something about it. On the farthest island to the west, Bishop Island, they built a lighthouse. Known as “The King of the Lighthouses” it stands a majestic 167 feet tall and is said to endure some of the worst weather in the world. The light is seen up to 16 miles away, alerting coming ships to the danger. Who knows how many lives have been saved by the light of Bishop Lighthouse. Without the King of the Lighthouses many in the dark would have crashed and died.
We are sailing this world. And it is a dark world. Then the words of Jesus, like a beacon of light reach our ears, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but, will have the light of life.”
I’m breaking the sermon up into 3 sections: Jesus Alone……Accept Jesus…… Assurance
#1: Jesus Alone (“I am the light of the world”)
Don’t look anywhere else in this world for light. Don’t look anywhere else in the spirit realm for light. Jesus and only Jesus.
The world is in darkness. That means us – all of us among humanity. This is universal darkness.
Darkness means separation, ignorance, and evil. It means in relation to God the whole world, the whole of humanity, is separated from God and ignorant of Him. There is no knowledge of God here on earth. Unless God took the initiative and took action to reveal Himself the whole world would continue in its ignorance of God.
Darkness also connotes evil. Man’s condition is evil. He carries on in evil ways, not only because he is ignorant of God and His righteousness, but, also because something in man makes him disposed to do evil. There is not much attraction to God and His righteousness.
But we as people do have a sense of right and wrong and we do admire people of noble character. We see that all the time don’t we? Sure, as long as we don’t feel convicted by other people’s superior character, right? When we feel the sting that comes from being in the presence of someone who’s “better” than us we also have a tendency to hate it. The Darkness wants to snuff out the light, suppressing it so that it doesn’t expose the darkness as darkness.
Here’s the bigger point: while yes we recognize, admire, and to a degree even strive for moral excellence, as humans we want to do so independant of God. We don’t want to recognize our Creator as the source of what is truly right and wrong, we want to determine it for ourselves. We don’t want to think that we must give account to Him for our conduct in this life because we want to be judge over ourselves. So the “darkness” is not so much that we have no clue that there is right and wrong, the “darkness” is that quality of wanting to be morally, spiritually independent of God and reject His rights to us as His creatures. It’s wanting to live in a sphere where God has no place with us, where His rules don’t extend to us, where our obligation to Him doens’t exist. That darkness is particularly a darkness in our relationship to God specifically.
Jesus is the Light. Jesus is the light of the world. He is the eternal light, there at the beginning – before the beginning! – and He will be the light at the end of time for all eternity. Do you not know that in the new heavens and the new earth at the end of all things there will be no sun or moon to shine? Do you know why? Revelation 21 says, “Because the LORD and Jesus will be its light”. It is divine luminescence – it is the outshining of the eternal glory of God beaming out all over the entire NEW CREATION.
He is the Light because He is God. His light is that which comes out of Him as the eternal source of Light. It is His glorious essence, radiating out of Him. There is the visible light, and, then there is the light of His moral quality. That moral quality is the light we engage in when we live according to His commands. We participate in the Light when we live in righteousness like Jesus is righteous. Light as a theme in John’s writings refers to truth and holiness of conduct.
Jesus is the only light. “I am”. Jesus excludes everyone and everything else that may claim to be a light for people in this world. Jesus is claiming to be exceptional. You cannot find any other light in this world other than Jesus. He is saying that all other “lights” are not lights at all. Only He is true light.
That Jesus is the Light of the World is a familiar theme in John’s writings. In chapter 1 he said, “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” In chapter 9 Jesus says, “While I am in the world I am the light of the world.” In chapter 12 Jesus says, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” In 1 John 1 he says, “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.” And in Revelation 21:23, speaking of the City of God, John says this, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”
He Gives True Vision….He Gives True Life…..His is the Light of Heaven…..His is Spiritual Light
When He says He is the light of the world He is not saying that the world produced Him. He is not the best earth has generated. No, earth dwells in darkness. No, for His whole preaching career He repeated innumerable times that He came from Heaven. He is the Light of Heaven, sent from Heaven, to bring Light to this dark world.
Illustration: The sun’s light shining down into the ocean. The ocean is divided into different zones based on how much sunlight penetrates to each zone. The top 600 feet are the Sunlight zone where the sunlight has strong penetration. Photosynthesis is possible causing much plant and other life to prosper. Below that is the Twilight zone, 600-3000 feet sunlight is much fainter. Below this zone is the Midnight Zone, from 3000 feet to 12,000 feet. Going further down is the Abyss, which stretches from 12,000 feet to 19,000 feet. These are zones of the ocean that never see sunlight. A vast diversity of animals not seen higher up in the ocean live in these zones. They are in complete darkness. They have never seen the light of the sun.
This is a bold statement. Again Jesus is saying something that if it is not true makes Him either mentally ill or unbelievably arrogant. For anyone to make such a global, exclusive statement would mean a new category would need to be created in the DSM-5.
But if true, then you must bow to Him.
#2: Accept Jesus (“Whoever follows me”)
The Light entered the world, but, you must choose the Light. The light is shining but you must let it shine on you. It’s your decision.
Like Israel in the Wilderness following the pillar of smoke and fire.
“Whoever” The invitation is open to all. Anyone! Everyone may come if they so choose. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” Whoever will may come. All are invited. God doesn’t want anyone to perish, including you. “God is patient, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). (Parable of the master throwing a banquet compelling all to come in). You know who is “Whoever”? You are the whoever.
Follows me. Following Jesus starts when you stop following yourself. “If anyone wants to follow me he must deny himself first…” (Luke 9:23) “And He died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Cor. 5:15). It means no longer conforming to the world(Turn to 1 Peter 4:2-5 and read). “Do not love the world or anything in the world.” (1 John 2:15)
Following Jesus means to accept that the path you are on right now is leading you to Hell. “There is a way that seems right to a man”, Proverbs 14:12 says, “But in the end it leads to death.”
#3: Assurance (“never walk in darkness…have the light of life”)
Assurance. Don’t you love that word? “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste of glory divine!”
Do you know what assurance is? Its when someone tries giving the guarantee of something to someone else. They are trying to transfer their confidence to another person….they are trying to make the other person as sure as they are about an issue.
General with leprosy told to wash in the Jordan – assured
Centurion was assured Jesus could heal his servant (Mth. 8)
The two spies – Joshua and Caleb – were assured they could take the land
Noah assured he would be saved from coming flood
Moses assured God would be with him before Pharoah
Jesus is giving us assurance that when we choose to follow Him two things will come true. These are 2 promises He makes to anyone who puts their trust in Him. First, you will never walk in darkness. Second, you will have the light of life.
Frank Lloyd Wright is among the most innovative architects this country ever produced. But his fame wasn’t limited to the United States. About 70 years ago, Japan asked Wright to design a hotel for Tokyo that would be capable of surviving an earthquake. When the architect visited Japan to see where the Imperial Hotel was to be built, he was appalled to find only about eight feet of earth on the site. Beneath that was 60 feet of soft mud that slipped and shook like jelly. Every test hole he dug filled up immediately with water. A lesser man probably would have given up right there. But not Frank Lloyd Wright. Since the hotel was going to rest on fluid ground, Wright decided to build it like a ship. Instead of trying to keep the structure from moving during a quake, he incorporated features that would allow the hotel to ride out the shock without damage. Supports were sunk into the soft mud, and sections of the foundation were cantilevered from the supports. The rooms were built in sections like a train and hinged together. Water pipes and electric lines, usually the first to shear off in an earthquake, were hung in vertical shafts where they could sway freely if necessary. Wright knew that the major cause of destruction after an earthquake was fire, because water lines are apt to be broken in the ground and there is no way to put the fire out. So he insisted on a large outdoor pool in the courtyard of his hotel, “just in case.”
On September 1, 1923, Tokyo had the greatest earthquake in its history. There were fires all over the city, and 140,000 people died. Back in the U.S., news reports were slow coming in. One newspaper wanted to print the story that the Imperial Hotel had been destroyed, as rumor had it. But when a reporter called Frank Lloyd Wright, he said that they could print the story if they wished, but they would only have to retract it later. He knew the hotel would not collapse.
Shortly afterward, Wright got a telegram from Japan. The Imperial Hotel was completely undamaged. Not only that — it had provided a home for hundreds of people. And when fires that raged all around the hotel threatened to spread, bucket brigades kept the structure wetted down with water from the hotel’s pool. The Imperial Hotel isn’t there anymore. It was finally torn down in the 1960s to be replaced by a more modern structure.
Jesus is absolutely certain these two things will happen for you because it depends on Him for them both to happen. He isn’t relying on someone else’s power or wisdom or light or life. Escaping darkness and experiencing light and life are backed by Him – His character, His integrity, His Person. And as God, you can trust Jesus: He is the incarnation of divine truth (John 14:6). “God is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should change His mind. If He speaks does He not act? If He promises does He not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).
Never walk in darkness. Jesus promises you will never walk in darkness again. King David said in the OT, “O Lord you turn my darkness into light”.
How many of you would try skiing if you were blind? Did you know that blind skiing is a thing? People who are blind actually ski competitively. You know how? They are paired with a someone who can see. Skiing together the whole way down the course the guide communicates everything the blind skier needs to do. If a rise or a bump or a pitch or a flat or a left turn or a right turn is needed that is yelled or cued through a radio headset. The guide is the eyes for the blind skier. Living in total darkness the blind skier is totally dependent on their guide to tell them what to do in order to navigate the course.
Have the light of life.
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light
In our longing, in our darkness
now the light of life has come.
Look to Christ, who condescended
took on flesh to ransom us
Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray – I woke, the dungeon flamed with light
My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth and followed Thee!
One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, “Jump! I’ll catch you.” He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof. His father kept yelling: “Jump! I will catch you.” But the boy protested, “Daddy, I can’t see you.” The father replied, “But I can see you and that’s all that matters.”
Jesus says He is the Light. The world is in darkness. What does it mean that Jesus is the light, and, that the world is otherwise in the dark?
Jesus comes from God then to shed light on us. He comes from God – who is Light – so that we may know God and be known by Him.