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Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1314

Dr. Ed Pettus August 13, 2017 John 8:12-20

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)


“I Am the Light of the World”



  • In the Beginning


I want us to investigate the theme of light, but more importantly the Light, through various areas of the Bible. Let’s start at the beginning.


There are two “In the beginning” chapters in the Bible, Genesis 1 and John 1. Genesis 1 is about creation and John 1, we might say, is about the Creator. We might note there are common themes through both of these chapters and the one in particular for us today is light.


Genesis 1:1-5 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.


The first word of creation is to create light. The Bible is not much on explanation of how this came to be except to say one thing, God said. God spoke the word – let there be light. And then the Bible simply says, “there was light.” Word, light, there it is. Light was the first thing created.


John’s gospel begins with the word, and how the Word was God and all things were made through Him. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it...The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world (1:4-5).


John 1 tells us that John the Baptist came to witness to the light. Jesus came into the world as the true light giving light to everyone, yet He was not received. Verse 14 says this, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” What might have been the glory they saw? Certainly it was things he did that displayed glory. Certainly it was what a choice few who saw the transfiguration on the mountain. But I like to think it was even more. His countenance, His presence, perhaps even His smile displayed His light to the world.


Jesus is the light from the beginning and He has been the One lighting our path ever since.



  • The Light that Lights our Path


Two verses speak of the light that lights our path:


Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.


Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.


When I read Psalm 119:105 about the word being our light, I also think of John 1 that Jesus is the Word. He and the Word of God are our light. The word helps us see in many ways. It illumines our path through the darkness. It gives us the ability to discern truth from falsehood. It offers us vision for all things past, present, and future.



  • The Light of Fellowship and Forgiveness


The scriptures also reveal how the light leads us to fellowship and forgiveness.


1 John 1:5-10 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.


When we are in the light (verse 7) we have fellowship, we share everything we have in Christ. One of the things we share together is the forgiveness of Christ. With forgiveness we thus share in having once walked in darkness and now having seen the light. We share in God’s love, covenant, grace, mercy, hope, and truth. This is another blessing of walking in the light.


  • Seeing the Light


When Jesus began His public ministry, Matthews gospel opens that period of Jesus’ life with a quote from Isaiah 9:2, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.”


This text reaffirms the great importance of the light shining in the darkness. Jesus is the light of the world for the sake of the world’s salvation. We look again at John 1:4-5, In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” This is of tremendous importance in every generation and so it is for us. We are inundated with bad news every day. Just yesterday we saw the violence of racism in Virginia. Stories like this appear so often on the nightly news - hatred, murders, political troubles, fake news, and so on. The light still shines in all this darkness. THE DARKNESS HAS NOT OVERCOME IT! It might seem like darkness is winning the day, but our trust and our hope is that the darkness has not overcome the Light. (See also Col. 1:13)


The work of the church is to bring the light to those who have yet to see it. Many people have used John 3:16 to bring the light, and I want to drop down a couple of verses beginning at 3:18,



John 3:18-20

18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.


People love darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. People still love darkness today. Those who love the darkness do not want light because it exposes their evil. We had a house in the neighborhood who shared a video of someone sneaking around their car in the dark, then the motion detector turned on the light and the potential criminal scurried off, probably not wanting to be seen in the light.

We pray for people to see the light and no longer be ashamed to have the light shine upon them.



  • I Am the Light of the World


Follow Jesus or walk in darkness. All who do not follow Jesus are in the dark.


John 8:12

12Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”



I am the light of the world.


Jesus is the light shining through our darkness of sin. Jesus is the light to our darkened world. Jesus is the light that lights our way in this world and give us hope for our future. Jesus is the light to the whole world. Everyone must come to see that we are all walking in blindness, blinded by our sin. Everyone must come to see that the whole world is in darkness and needs this light, the only light that can truly shine in the darkness. Anything and anyone else in the world that claims to be a light is a lie. The true light is seen through the Word of God, through the presence of His Spirit, and through His body – the church.


Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness.


We have here a great promise of discipleship. All who follow Jesus are no longer subject to walk in darkness. The promise is for no darknesss, no sinful lifestyle, no non-discernment, no hopelessness, no glass is half empty. It is the life of light and the light of life. John Calvin speaks of following Jesus as allowing ourselves to be “governed by Christ”. When that is our life, living with Christ as our Lord and Savior, the promise includes all that we discover throughout the gospels and the whole of the Bible. Promise of presence, of love, of grace, of spiritual gifts, and so on. Discipleship is not a dark place, but a place of light.




But will have the light of life.


The light is what gives us life. This life includes light, vision, hope, joy, peace, contentment, positive view -

An example of this light that brings a vision for life, a positive view, and contentment is Romans 5:3-5.


Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.


Joy is a product of our relationship with Christ. We have no reason to fear the bad news of our time, no reason to be anxious or hopeless or have any characteristics of darkness. The Light will always be with us even if we suffer or walk through periods of darkness. The darkness has not and will not overcome the light. We look to the light for our life. I believe this is why Jesus also tells us that we too are the light of the world in Matthew 5.


Matthew 5:14-16

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.


We display the light within us, the light that is Christ, so that others will see the light, that is, the glory of God. Jesus is the light of the world. He is our light. He is the light who brings hope for a dark dark world. Let us tell of His light and let our own light shine so that all around us might see the light and walk in it. Amen.