A Call to Walk in the Light
Our text today is a clarion call to start a new beginning! It’s a summons to start the new year off right! It’s a “shout out” to leave the dark ways of sin and come into the marvelous light.
• This text has our name on it if you need to be set free.
• This text has our name on it if you’re looking for a way out of a bad situation.
• This text has our name on it if you want Jesus to lead you and guide you in 2014.
The last time we were together in this text, Jesus was doing ministry in a hostile place. His religious opposition had cornered Him in the temple and dragged a young woman “Caught in adultery” whom they had framed with a crime before Jesus.
We discovered that Jesus came to her rescue, and spoke in her defense. After contending for the freedom of the young lady He then pronounces in the place of opposition, that He is calling for people who are looking for life, light and another chance at a personal relationship with God.
Our text today opens up with Jesus stating that he is the Light:
12Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world.’
Scholars believe this particular verse fits with the final day of the Feast of Tabernacles. On the last day of the feast, torches and burning lamps lit the temple and the City at evening time. The people celebrated with dancing by light to commemorate what God had done for them. When the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, and living in tents (tabernacles), God gave them a pillar of fire to lead them by night. This is portion of their celebration was done to remember how God lit up the darkness and how they followed Jesus by night.
It was during this final celebration that Jesus proclaims, “I am the light of the world.”
• He sees the burning lamps.
• He sees their need for light.
• He sees their desire to live life joyfully.
• He sees their need for a savior.
So He proclaims once again the words that only apply to the Messiah! “I AM!”
• He has already proclaimed to be “living bread” (manna from heaven).
• He has already proclaimed to be “living water” (water from the rock).
So here he proclaims to be the light, that of the world (fire by night)!
These were all prophetic claims that were pronounced by the prophets of old, signs given to Israel as they journeyed through the wilderness on their way to the promised land.
Again, Jesus says, “I am the light,” the illuminous brightness of the world. Here he is declaring that in His coming to earth He was the one they were following then, and He is the one who has lit the earth now with the same light (He is speaking of an eternal brightness)!
• Because of Christ, the earth is no longer in isolated darkness.
• Because of Christ, the darkness of the world has been invaded by heaven’s light.
• Because of Jesus, the darkness of the world has been exposed by God’s divine light.
Here he proclaims this because the people at the feast are trying to celebrate by temporary light. Their lamps and torches will burn out, and their joy will be short lived. But if they want real life, real joy, real peace they must come to the One who is the true light of the world!
So When Jesus makes this claim, he is summonsing everyone who wants the Light that Heaven has to offer, versus the temporary light of the world, TO COME UNTO HIM!
When I look at this text I’m reminded at how dark this world is and how sin has affected all of mankind.
Because of sin’s darkness, we often look for light on earth to give us temporary joy!
• Because of darkness and sin, we got unwanted pain and pressure in the world (we need God’s light).
• Because of darkness and sin, babies are killed in the womb before they have a chance at life (we need God’s light).
• Because of darkness and sin, children kill their parents and parents kill their children (we need God’s light).
• Because of darkness and sin, there is universal calamity, and death is all over the world (we need God’s light).
• Because of darkness and sin, man has fallen from God’s original plan for his life (we need God’s light).
• Because of darkness and sin, someone you know is addicted to drugs or alcohol (we need God’s light).
• Because of sin, we have prisons, hospitals, police, and burglar alarms (we need God’s light).
• Because of sin, men would rather be women and women would rather be men (we need God’s light).
Not only has darkness had power over man, but Sin is wicked and it demands complete control to make man do what it wants him to do.
In today’s lesson, we get a good look at why Jesus was calling people to come out of darkness into divine light!
This claim is a claim that no other religious figure in history has ever made!
Jesus is the only voice to proclaim this status!
Not Hitler, Mussolini, Gandhi, Aristotle, Plato, Joseph Smith, or Mary Baker Eddy—not the world’s rulers or leaders. No earthly philosophers or religious leaders; not the Dalai Lama, not the pope—no man at any time in history has made a claim like this. Jesus stands alone as the greatest person ever, and the only one who could make this claim.
Jesus continues by saying, “He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness,” drawing attention to the path of the Israelites. While the children of Israel lived in the wilderness the only source of light at night was the sign given to them by God who was to be the pillar of fire at night.
Those that followed the pillar were led by God. Those that did their own thing would wander in darkness! Jesus is issuing a call here to not do your own thing, but follow The Light to escape from being lost!
Here the feast celebration has had the multitudes following the ceremonious and religious traditions of men. They were accustomed to lighting the torches and dancing temporarily at the feast day. After the feast they would go back to their usual lives, struggling with the burden of darkness.
Here, Jesus is saying the one who follows (meaning to be in the same way with) will not walk, or live, in darkness.
This call is for the listener to completely FOLLOW CHRIST whole heartedly, to abandon their own agenda and surrender their ways to Christ. It is a call to give up ones ownership in exchange for complete surrender to Christ.
This call is a divine exchange! It is to give up following vain things for the Son of God! It is a call to trade allegiances—give up or allegiance to other people or things and surrender your all to God! This is the call to follow!
Jesus is calling for disciples here in this text to come and follow! Not to lead, walk alongside of, be in partnership with, or in front of Him, but rather to FOLLOW HIM.
The Jews knew exactly what He was calling for! They knew what this claim meant! They knew what he was intending to say and what the implications of this Rabbi’s message was; they were not confused!
In our culture we can miss the translation, so here it is!
Whoever wants to follow Jesus must abandon other gods and give Him your all.
• To follow meant to surrender totally.
• To follow meant to surrender once and for all.
• To surrender meant to give up completely and to give Him your all.
• To follow in complete obedience is the picture and the challenge!
Jesus ends his statement with a condition:
‘shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
For those that follow, he says they “shall not walk in darkness.” The word walk in the literal translation means to “live in”.
For those that follow, they shall not live in darkness, they shall not dwell in darkness, and they shall not be overtaken by darkness!
Look at the Promise:
• Only He who has the power over Darkness can make this claim!
• Here Jesus promises to give victory to those that will follow Him!
• Only Followers can circle this verse!
• Only followers can claim this position!
• Only followers can be beneficiaries of this grace!
• This promise comes from the seat of authority.
• This promise is made in the eternal realm of Life.
Jesus came to push back the darkness and here He calls out to those who will follow and declare for us that we will not WALK in darkness but have life.
Here in the text the word is written in the present tense- it also implies that if the believer chooses to follow in every area of their lives they will not live in darkness and sin, but gain victory over the darkness of the world!
This is a promise only for the follower! Only for the disciple! Only for the child of God! Only for the believer!
By following Him we can live. We can come to know and experience Him. By following, we can see Him and have the “light of life”—that light is Jesus Christ!
When you commit yourself to following Him, he commits Himself to you!
“HE WHO FOLLOWS ME, SHALL NOT WALK IN DARKNESS, BUT HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE.”
Once again, at the feast they had a temporary light, they danced by a flickering flame. When the fire went out, they went back to the temporal way of living, existing in the darkness, lost in the sin of the world. It was Christ who offered a better way of living! He was offering a meaningful way to experience real life!
What a challenge to you and I today! To live our lives in a more meaningful way in this New Year!
What a challenge today, to give God all of our selves, that we may follow him, and get “The Light of Life” in exchange for our dark-living.
Jesus came to offer us the Light of Light! That we may escape eternal Darkness and pain!
So, as we come to the new year, remember that the king is calling! Remember that the King is summoning all to follow Him and to leave the darkness for the Marvelous light.