Sermons Updates

The Light of the World (John 8:12-30/Matt 5:14-16) – Mark Ottaway

Living for Eternity

The Light of the World  

John 8:12-30; 12:36; Matt 5:14-16


Turn to John 8. There are a number of questions that do come up from the passage which you have read this week, which we will not address many this morning, but next Sunday, as I want to mainly focus this week on the first verse of this section.

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

John 8:12 (LSB)


Let’s pray. Lord, we pray that the truth of this great Light would grip our hearts this morning. Might we learn that this world is in darkness, and in You is Light. So, guide our thoughts this morning, amen. We live in a day and age where the world is desperately trying to unite us around truth, where everyone is trying to get along by agreeing to the same things. And on the surface, this does not seem like a bad thing. I mean what would be the issue for a country to attempt to say to each other, let’s try to get along as human beings and agree with certain truths. And if you were born into this type of society, and grew up under this, you might find it odd that everyone would not want to join together in this endeavor. I grew up very differently. As I grew up believing that I was different from most. What I was taught as a young guy was greatly different from the majority, and I really did not see any issue with that. And today this is not even a thing that is talked about within a town, province, or even a country. For the issues that we are facing today are many of the same issues that people all over the world are facing, at least in the Western world. For things that are frowned upon in Italy, are frowned upon in England, and are frowned upon in Canada and the US. The internet has united almost all our communication and interaction. In other words, what you and I are concerned about is likely the same thing that others are concerned about somewhere else in the world.


I was watching a YouTube the other day on a movement in England that was fighting against the ideologies of Woke. And you would think, other than the accents, that this was in Canada, as the issues were exactly the same. And really the issues are similar to what they have been in the past, other than they have been accelerated, as the general public has greatly moved to a much more liberal, humanistic position. There was an article written years ago saying that two plus two equals five, and how your viewpoint could actually convince people that this was true. Someone then said that the only difference today is that everyone now must believe it, that two plus two does equal five.


A gentleman named Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, though I do not know much about him, in the 70s, wrote an encouragement to people at that time to fight against the status quo of society. And you may or not agree with everything he wrote. He said: don’t write, sign, or publish anything that distorts the truth; don’t utter lies in private or in public conversation; don’t support false truth in music; don’t use another’s quote unless you agree with it; don’t be forced to demonstrate or rally or raise banners for things you do not believe; don’t vote for anyone you do not sincerely support; walk out of plays or films that convey lies; and don’t subscribe to any media that distorts or hides underlying facts. And here are some thoughts by this English movement that I watched, on how we could respond similarly today in our current culture: if you get attacked by others for your view, do not give a false apology if you have said nothing wrong; don’t say things just to cover your back, or so you can feel safe, and “in” with a certain crowd; don’t nod along when things are being said that are untrue; don’t give in to peer pressure to do something that you do not agree with; don’t allow your speech to be compelled by social pressure; and don’t betray your own conscience, but be willing to make sacrifices to stand up for what you believe to be true.


This was also said, “We are to have the courage to defend our own soul.” And I would agree with this, but I think that I would change this slightly, that we are to have the courage to defend God and God’s truth. I believe there is a difference between saying I am right and you are wrong, as opposed to declaring what God has said to be true, or that God is right. I believe our response to the questions of the world, is to boldly declare what God has said, but understand that I only know these things, therefore I am humble. As I only know them because God has revealed them to us in His Word. It is not that I am revealing truth that I have figured out for myself. And to test ourselves with this, as what is our reaction to what God has declared to us in the Bible, that we would be quick to respond to God’s instructions for our living. For wouldn’t that be hypocritical, to declare to others what God has said about something, yet not heed that same instruction ourselves.


Now following Christ has become more difficult. I thought about why this is true, and I am sure there are a number of reasons. But I believe one of the major differences is because there are fewer of us. For when others confirm our faith, this is an encouragement to us. When my grandson Jack was with us last week, we were watching the Jays’ game. And we got talking about Christianity in sports. And I said that a few years ago many teams in MLB had a number of Christians that made their faith known, and almost every NFL team had much going on to support the Christian. But that has greatly changed because the cultural landscape has changed so much, as what Christians value and believe is now more directly opposed to what the culture teaches. So, now most professional teams have maybe only one or two guys that would be outspoken about their Christian faith. Why? I am not sure whether some are now afraid, or there are just fewer of them.


You know, a few years ago, a Christian might make a stand on purity. And as a married man or woman in sports, to be faithful to his or her spouse, or as an unmarried athlete to refuse to have a physical relationship with someone prior to marriage. Now the unchristian world may not have endorsed that, some might even laugh at that, but it was often respected. But the issues Christians must stand for today are not respected in society. So, the Christian stands a little alone, with little support or encouragement except maybe from some family or some at church. Obviously, this is really hard because Christians are dropping like flies, and the result is that Christian thought in society is being obliterated. And here is the great need of all this, the value, the importance of understanding all this, for Jesus says (vs 12), “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” This verse communicates so much to us, “I am the Light of the world.” Five truth statements that are directed to all people, and especially a great encouragement to the believer. Truth statement #1:


  1. Jesus claims that He is the only source of Light.


I am the Light, no one else is the Light. This is what we must boldly declare. There is no fear here that anyone else is the source of truth. Some of you may listen to Jordan Peterson or Ben Shapiro, who are a wealth of knowledge and they often come with a very conservative view. And therefore, many Christians appreciate so much their thoughts. Therefore, on a number of current issues today, they would sit right where we might sit. In fact, we sometimes will get a more “biblical” answer from them than we might from someone who would claim to be Christian. However, there is also a great danger here. For while we might respect them, both men have rejected the Light. Shapiro is an orthodox Jew, and Peterson still seems to be searching for his spiritual truth. Therefore, though their views are often in-line with what the Bible teaches, both men have rejected the Light, Jesus Christ, as Jesus claims to be the only source of Light. Truth statement #2:


  1. Jesus is the Light of the “WORLD.”


Emphasis here on world. The truth that Jesus brings is brought to and is applied to the world. It is not that Jesus has a set of truth statements that can be accepted or rejected in the sense that they do not apply to mankind. No, everything that Jesus claims as true is made accountable to the world, to everyone. Now this does not mean that someone cannot reject that truth, yet the truth still applies to them, it never changes. So, a person can receive Christ and the truth of being a Christian will be fulfilled in that person’s life. And a person can reject Christ, and the truth about what happens to someone that rejects Christ will be fulfilled in that person’s life. So, though our responses may be chosen, the results of our responses can never be chosen, because the truth of Christ applies to all humankind, everywhere. This is clearly seen in verse 24:

“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

John 8:24 (LSB)


See, you can choose not to believe, that is your prerogative. But you cannot choose the result, if you do not believe. For the result is the same for everyone who does not believe: you will die in your sins. And because Jesus is the Light of the world, the insinuation is that it is only through Christ that there is Light. And this is so needed for us to be confident in testifying about Christ or sharing about Christ with someone. For there is no need for us to be intimidated by anyone. As Christ is the only answer for the rich guy or the poor guy. He is the only answer for the successful businessman and the one out of a job. He is the only answer for the smart schoolteacher or the guy on the street. For the physically fit guy or the alcoholic. Doesn’t matter, if someone is human, if someone is still breathing, they need Christ. And there is no other true Light available to them but Christ.


And this Light that has come into the world was always part of the plan of God. This was what was supposed to happen. The sin in the Garden was no mistake in the sense that God’s plan changed. No, it was part of the plan of God, so that He would someday send His Son into the world to become the Light of the world. Creation was made for this Light. This was the plan of the Father, the Creator. And if you miss this, it would be like going to the ocean and missing the waves, or not hearing the sound, or running into the water and not feeling the coolness of it. And when God creates the new heavens and the new earth, the Light will fill it, there will be no need of the sun. For the Light that will come from Christ is the fulfillment of what was meant to be all along. For Jesus is the Light of the world. Truth statement #3:


  1. Jesus is the Revelation of the Father (vs 16, 18-19, 26, 29).


This third heading does not come directly from (vs 12), but I believe it is necessary to mention at this point. If you had read this section of Scripture this week, you may have wondered a little, as I did, why this whole conversation went where it went. And what it had to do with what seems to be the main theme here, that Jesus is the Light of the world. So, first look with me at some of these passages: (vs 16) “My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me;” (vs 18) “and the Father who sent Me bears witness about Me;” (end of vs 19) “if you knew Me, you would know My Father also;” (vs 26) “but He [the Father] who sent Me is true;” and (vs 29) “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”


Why all this talk about the Father, right after Jesus declares to them that he is the Light of the world? I believe what Jesus is doing here is reassuring His hearers that the God who created the world, the God who created light, let there be light, is now declaring that Jesus is the Light of the world. The argument for these Jewish leaders would be that they did not receive this message from God. They have the first message from God that He created the world from the writings of Moses, but the accusation against Jesus is that he is declaring this Himself, and where is the revelation they are asking from the Father? We can see this from Jesus’ words: “My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me.” “And the Father who sent Me bears witness about Me.”


There are so many things that we might enjoy about God’s creation. A walk in the woods, the tall standing trees, a sunset, or standing by the ocean. I think if I went to California or Hawaii or somewhere like that, Anne would get mad at me because all I would want to do is sit at the beach and watch the waves come in. But whatever sensation of nature that might draw our minds to the greatness of God and the truth of God, when we come to our senses and begin to think of a Creator as opposed to worshipping the creation; Jesus is saying this, I am the revelation of the Father. It’s Me, see it’s Me. God has been revealed in Me. Colossians 1:15, Jesus “is the image of the invisible God.” John 1:14, we beheld the glory of Christ, the glory of the Father. Colossians 2:9, for in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead.


Do you see this? When the Muslim believes in Allah, he has missed the Father. But even the Jew, who believes in the Father, but has missed Christ. This is why Jesus said I am He, for if you have seen Me you have seen the Father. Philip said to Jesus, Lord, show us the Father. Jesus said to Philip, how can you even ask this? John 14:9, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” Of all creation, everything that god has made, whatever part of nature absolutely fascinates you, Jesus said, I am the Revelation of the Father. Don’t miss Me. Truth statement #4: (vs 12) “he who follows Me will never walk in the darkness.”


  1. Following the Light exposes lies.


Following Christ, the emphasis here. Following Christ exposes all falsehood. It guards us from being deceived. And the act of following assumes that someone is serving someone or something, In other words, this is part of us being a slave to Christ. A slave who does not take his eyes off Christ, as he is busy performing the Master’s service. Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path.” Beginning of Hebrews, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.” We are exposed to lies everywhere. Countless opinions about everything under the sun at our fingertips. There are voices out there, such as Peterson and Shapiro, that speak so closely to Christianity. And there are those who claim to be Christians but do not hold to the truth. There are those who may sit in church every Sunday, yet are involved in secret sins constantly, and though they might claim to follow Christ, they really do not. So, it must become the lifelong pursuit of the Christian to keep his eyes on Christ. So that, he will not be fooled by lies. So, the Christian needs to be quick to go to God’s Word for direction. Quick to ask for the help of a strong Christian friend.


And sometimes this is harder than other times as some things come at us so quickly. This was hard during Covid because it brought questions and decisions on us that we did not have to consider before. And this divided Christians over things that were not really that critical to be divided over. The Christian line was drawn where it did not really need to be always drawn. Maybe some lines that came from emotion because of the stress that many went through. This is also hard as we must make decisions as Christians that should be clear to us, but we also have to use Christian wisdom to make decisions that are not so clear. And we have been given freedom in many areas, where we need to seek the Lord’s help and guidance. And that we would focus on that which is most important and most beneficial. Sometimes our decisions are made that are not really Christian or morally directed, but they are just decisions that we must make. Sometimes they are decisions that we need to ask the question, is this best for us spiritually?


So, we need to make sure that in our decision-making, in our following, we are keeping our eyes on Christ, we are looking to Him. So that, we safeguard ourselves from lies. For the one who follows close to Christ will not walk in the darkness. The darkness, the opposite of whatever is true, dignified, right, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. In other words, we need to always ask, does this fit with Christianity? Does this choice we are making as a family fit with my walk with Christ? That movie or that music or that lifestyle choice or this direction, does this seem to fit for the follower of Christ? Do my decisions as a Mom or Dad, do they make sense to my kids? For the Christian should not, does not walk in darkness. For that is a world that he or she has been lifted from. A world that has been left behind by the true follower of Christ. Yes, we are in the world, but we not of the world. For following Christ exposes lies, it does not incorporate lies into Christianity. The final words in that (vs 12) those who follow Christ, “will have the Light of life.” Truth statement #5:


  1. Only the believer is truly alive.


The truth is that when a person receives Christ into their life, there is a transformation that occurs from death to life spiritually. So, though all people today are alive physically, it is only the believing follower who is alive spiritually, because it is only the believer who has the Light of life. This is diabolically opposed to what the deconstructionists from two Sundays ago believe. As they would teach that it is not fair that a person who is a Christian is the only way. Therefore, it cannot be that all other beliefs, worldviews, philosophies, or ways of thinking are wrong. Yet this is the claim of Christ. Again, not a rude, obnoxious, or odious persona from us; but it’s a grateful claim of who Christ is and what He has said. And this life that is obtained by the follower is not a following that would be described as someone tagging along behind Jesus, like a small child might lag behind you and sort of grab your hand and pull them along.


When Anne and I take Ted for a walk to Rock Glen or somewhere. We will get walking and one of us will say where’s Ted. And she is way behind. She is really a dawdler. And we say Ted, get up here! No, this is a description of the true believer, as the one who follows Christ (vs 12), he who follows Me. Watching eagerly for Christ, rejoicing with everything that Christ has done and is doing. Worshipping at Christ’s feet. Watching daily for the Master’s leading. We so often hear in Christian circles of how the Lord is blessing materially, or how the Christian gained such and such a promotion. But I believe the greater question would be, how am I doing as a slave of Christ? How, through blessing and through hardship is He changing me into the likeness of Himself? John 6:66-68:

“As a result of this many of His disciples went away and were not walking with Him [or following Him] anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.’”

John 6:66-68 (LSB)


This is Peter thirsting for Christ, anticipating His every move. Lord, I will follow You. I must follow You. For You are the Light of the world. You are the One sent from the Father. And when you follow Jesus, you have Jesus. Notice verse 12, “he who follows Me…will have the Light of life.” We have the Light, therefore, we can see. When Anne and I had been married for a few years, Anne was expecting our first child. We were camping at the Pinery and went for a walk with Ted #1, that’s Ted #4 that we now take to Rock Glen. And we were walking on the Wilderness Trail at the Pinery, which eventually goes to the beach, where we watched the sunset. And as we came back within a few moments, it got really dark fast. And you know in the woods, when it gets dark, you cannot see your hand in front of your face. And somehow Ted guided us all the way back to our car. Ted #1 must have been a lot smarter than Ted #4! Without light, we cannot see. If you do not believe in the Son Jesus Christ, you do not possess the Light. And therefore, the problem is, you cannot see. Verse 24, for unless you believe you will die in your sins. Yet, verse 30, it says, many believed in Him. Because faith comes by hearing. These people were just listening to Jesus talk, there are no miracles here. They were listening to the words of Jesus and they believed Him.

“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

John 8:12b (LSB)


Now turn over to John 12:36:

“‘While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.’ These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them.”

John 12:36 (LSB)


There is an urgency here isn’t there? Jesus has come and declared to us who He is. And after declaring Himself, it says, “He went away and hid Himself from them.” As Jesus has been declared this morning through the teaching of John 8:12, the urgency is that you would come. If you believe, you too will be associated with the Light. You become part of the group of people on the earth that possess the Light. And therefore, share in bringing the Light to the world. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said:

“You are the light of the world … 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.”

Matt 5:14a, 16 (LSB)


Don’t forget believer, that you are the light of the world. So, lead them, love them, praise God before them, invest in them, and deeply care for them; so that, they may see your goodness, and that they too might glorify your Father who is in heaven. The challenge in all this is that there are fewer of us, at least in our circles in our Canadian culture. There are just fewer Christians. So, the light may have to come from fewer people in our day. That maybe God is asking us to shine brighter for Christ. Are we willing to do that? The other challenge is that no one knows they are in darkness, and therefore, they are not looking for a light. All the more reason that we need to shine a very bright light. For the world needs to hear and know these truth statements of Christ: I am the only source of Light; I am the Light of the “WORLD,” everyone; I am the Revelation of the Father; following Me exposes lies; and only the one who believes in Me is truly alive. Let’s pray. Lord, might we eagerly follow You. Might we feel You, know Your presence. Might we hear You, might we be refreshed by You. That we would watch Your every move so that You are never out of our sight. We would read Your Word, meditate on Your truth, and be ever mindful of Your presence. That we become for others a shining light to the world. And all God’s people said, amen.