12. Light – again

Short Meditations in John 8:  12. Light – again

Part 2: All about Testimony

Jn 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Some would say this is a continuation from the end of chapter 7 and occurred when, in this part of the feast, on the evening of the first day, four massive candelabra are brought out and lit, lighting up the whole area. It is in the face of this great light that that Jesus makes this second ‘I am’ assertion.  It is of course possible that Jesus waited until later in the week to do this because perhaps otherwise his words would get lost in the dancing and celebrations that accompanied the lighting of the candelabra. In which case he would be saying, “You’ve seen the great light that lit up Jerusalem earlier in the feast – I am a greater light than that.”

Isaiah had prophesied about a great light coming to Galilee (Isa 9:1,2, Mt 4:15) and clearly the land had been ‘lit up’ by Jesus’ miracles and teaching, but here he makes a claim that covers far more than just Galilee, the whole world – “the light of the world”. Later in John he says, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness,” (Jn 12:46) but that has the feel of the effect of hearing, believing and therefore, as a consequence of being brought out of darkness, to live in the light.  Here in this present verse he simply presents a more general, “If you follow me you will be walking in my light.”

Do you see the power of that picture?  Jesus is THE source of light and so if you walk alongside him you will be bathed in this light and darkness will be banished from your experience.

But of course Jesus speaks about spiritual or moral darkness, the darkness that limits the lives of so many people. Where he is, that spiritual or moral darkness is banished, because from him flows such spiritual and moral goodness darkness cannot exist in its presence.

The ‘light of life’? Well, without light life cannot exist. Plants cannot grow without light. Without light we cannot see to live. Light shows what is all around it, light shows the reality of the world, light shows the way, light enables plant life to grow and food to be grown. Without light life cannot exist.

Without Jesus, men and women live in a blind world where they fail to see reality, where they totter through life with little understanding of this world made by God, provided for our blessing. Yes, they encounter it, more by feeling than by sight and fail to comprehend the wonder of it, and thus are not thankful (Rom 1:21) and became inward looking, self-centred and godless. Let Jesus’ light transform your world.

Application: Because I think there is a danger in the coming discussions that we simply become intellectual and academic, I want to check us in each study to ask, “What does this say to me?” So now, do I see my life as one that lives in the light of Jesus and which sheds and shares his light?

28. Light of the World

Focus on Christ Meditations: 28. Light of the World

Jn 8:12     When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

It is the Feast of Tabernacles (Jn 7:2) and halfway through the Feast, Jesus went to the Temple courts to teach (v.14). The Feast lasted seven days but had a closing additional day. At the start of the Feast in the Court of the Women, four great candelabra were lit that produced so much light that it was said that every courtyard in Jerusalem was lit up by them. It is in this context that Jesus, in the midst of his teaching declared, “I am the light of the world”. What an incredible setting for such a declaration!

Now it was no doubt with this in mind that John uses light so many times in his Gospel in respect of Jesus, for instance, In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (1:4) and “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.” (1:5) and John “came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” (v.7-9) Then later, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (Jn 3:19-21).

Then we have our verse above (8:12) which, as we have said, came in the context of the Lights of the Feast of Tabernacles, but that wasn’t the end. In chapter 9 Jesus comes across a blind man who he heals and in this context says, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (9:5) So again, twice he makes this claim but this time, even though he doesn’t specifically apply it, one cannot but see it is linked with him giving sight to the blind. There are further references to light in ch.11 & 12 but they are not so specific.

Now we would do well to also check out ‘light’ in the Old Testament because whatever is there – if it is obvious (and it is) it would be known by the Jews of Jesus’ day. The obvious starting place is at Creation: “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Gen 1:3) God is a bringer of light and without light the world would be utterly dark and it would be impossible to see or to live. Light brings life to all plant life.

When it came to the Exodus we find, “By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” (Ex 13:21,22) Light in the pillar, both day and night, was the means of guiding Israel.

The psalmists were to write, “The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear?” (Psa 27:1) “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psa 119:105), and Isaiah was to prophesy about the Messiah, as we saw in earlier studies, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Isa 9:2)

So light was there in the history of the world and in Israel’s history, a vital and essential element to enable life and then guidance to be imparted. Without light, life is impossible. God was their light and His Law was their light. Into this context Jesus comes and twice declares that HE is the light of the world.

Now note the TWO aspects that we have seen in the various illustrations. First, light enables life. To have real life there needs to be real light. Books are written by their hundreds on how to live, how to succeed and so on, but every book that fails to reveal Jesus as the light of the world is a temporary and incomplete help. Light shows you yourself and the world around you. Only when Jesus’ light shines into your life do you truly see clearly.

Second, light shows you the way to go, where you want to go to and so on. Without Jesus’ light your future is determined by selfish ambitions or desires, ambitions or desires that so often fall short of what is on God’s heart for you. Selfish desires so often go astray and cause you harm. Jesus’ desires for you will always leave you feeling totally satisfied and fulfilled

In reality, in this world, many people stumble along through life as if in darkness but then Jesus comes and says, “Let me into your life and my light will bring a new life and I’ll be the one who shows you the way – the best way.”  Someone said after they had become a Christian, “It was as if the light had suddenly been turned on and I could see things for the first time.” Jesus is the light of the world – and you and I are part of that world and he comes to bring light into our lives, not only that we may live (and that thought continues on from him being ‘bread’ that we saw before), but also that we may receive guidance and direction in order to enjoy this world that God has given us.

4. Jesus, light of the world

Short Meditations in John 1:  4.  Jesus, light of the world

Jn 1:4    In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

Life is referred to by John 36 times in his book. Life may be that simple and basic force or energy that makes something ‘living’ and we speak of a ‘life force’. What ‘life’ is, is a mystery. We take it for granted and when it comes to a human being we say while the heart is working and the brain is working the person is ‘alive’ but that is as far as we go usually. As long as those two ‘organs’ are operative we consider there is life in the body. When they both stop life ceases. And yet we are, deep down, unhappy with that materialistic description because life seems far more than a pump pushing blood (the heart) and a muscle conveying electrical charges (the brain). Life enables personality and character to be revealed and ‘life’ enables communication and activity.

We saw previously that the writer to the Hebrews referred to Jesus, sustaining all things by his powerful word,” (Heb 1:3) and the implication is that Jesus, the Son of God, permits and enables all things to live. Now God is spirit (Jn 4:24) and every person has a spirit within them and, we would suggest, it is the Spirit who is The life force that enables the heart and the brain to work.

This very life force is God Himself and Jesus being God also is a conveyor of this fundamental life force. Now the Bible would seem to indicate that one function of the spirit of a person is to be the centre of communication with God within a person, but that function doesn’t work properly until one has been born again of the Spirit (Jn 3:5-8). When that happens the person enters into a new dimension of life. Jesus said, “the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.” (Jn 5:21) A person is already alive but Jesus comes to bring a new fuller measure of life, life that flows between God and us by the presence of His own Holy Spirit within us, or as He is sometimes referred to, the Spirit of Jesus.

As He flows within us, he reveals things to us, teaches us, guides us, shows us the way. He becomes like a light who shows us the way through what is otherwise ‘darkness’. When Jesus enters a person’s life he truly becomes the ‘light of men’ showing them a new way, a new life, a life of encounter with God, a life that makes sense, a life that is fulfilling, a life that understands meaning and rejoices in it. Thus ‘life’ releases ‘light’ and our lives are transformed and this is all the wonderful work of Jesus Christ who comes to dwell in us, who John is telling us about in these early verses in such an amazing way.

53. Light

Meditations in 1 Peter : 53 : Light to the World

1 Pet 4:8-10 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

In today’s jaded world, people look for what is real and what is good but, often, with no hope of finding it. Now that is sad because Jesus said to the Christian community, You are the salt of the earth ….You are the light of the world …. let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5:13-16) i.e. display God’s goodness in such a way that the world sees and knows that you are His and it is His power, His strength, His grace shining through you.

Peter started off this chapter with, “Christ … arm yourselves also with the same attitude…live the rest of his earthly life …. for the will of God.” (v.1,2) He digressed to speak about our past lives and how the world lives, but now he is speaking out the will of God for our lives, how the Lord wants us to live as His children, being salt and displaying His light. He has just said “be clear minded and self controlled” and we noted this was all about how we think and then how we act. So now he lists various ways that we can express our Christian lives – love, offer hospitality and serve. Let’s examine each of these three things he places before us.

He starts out, “Above all.” i.e. THE most important thing is that we love one another deeply. Because some of these words are so familiar, it is perhaps wise to seek to put content to them. Love might be defined as warm affection, attachment, liking, benevolence or strong benign feelings for others or, as the Bible portrays it, selfless, sacrificial, unrestricted good will towards all others. Now Peter says we are to make this the number one expression of our Christian lives and to do it ‘deeply’!

But he also gives us a reason or motivating force to encourage us to live like this: “because love covers a multitude of sins.” That is a phrase that has found its way into common usage because it is so apt. This recognises that each one of us is imperfect and the truth is that we will get it wrong. Now as far as God is concerned that is covered: My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 Jn 2:1) That is about how Jesus responds when we fail and then come back to him in repentance. Today’s verse covers how we are to cope with, or deal with, one another when one or other of us blows it.  Love!  Love still hangs on in there for that other person.  Our love means we forgive them, we seek to understand them, accept them and feel for them and not condemn them for ‘love covers a multitude of sins’!

But then he gives another way that we can build fellowship, build the church and reveal the love of God: Offer hospitality to one another.” Hospitality is about opening our home to care for and bless others. Hospitality builds relationships, builds friendships and provides opportunity for coming closer and for sharing and caring.  But, says Peter, do it without grumbling.  Why might we grumble over giving hospitality?  We may grumble because we see it as a duty and not as an expression of our grace.  The apostle Paul taught, “Share with God’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.” (Rom 12:13)  Hospitality, in his mind at least, was closely linked with helping and blessing those who were not as well off as you.

Then, as he lets his mind drift on past this, Peter adds, Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.” Now whether we think of ‘gift’ as a spiritual gift or simply some ability, the message is the same: use it to bless others. Come with the attitude of a servant whose desire is to bless others. If we do this we will be faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. i.e. we will be using the grace that God provides for us – in whatever form it comes – to bless others, build the church, and reach out with the love of God.

These are all very positive, outward looking instructions. They take our minds off ourselves and focus on bringing blessing to other people. When Peter had said, “The end of all things is near,” (v.7) we might think that this is a time for focusing on our own lives and our own well-being, but the apostle doesn’t allow that. No, in whatever days we have left, be outward looking, seek to love others, offer hospitality, use what you have to serve and bless others, take whatever grace gives you – and pass it on! There is no space here for self indulgence. No, this is all about using the time and using the resources God gives you to bless others and reveal the Father. May it be like that!

17. “I Am”

SON OF GOD MEDITATIONS 17 of 20

Jn 10:11,14,15 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep….. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me– just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

We couldn’t draw near to the end of a series like this without picking up on the “I am” sayings. For the untutored, these are a number of sayings by Jesus, recorded only in John’s Gospel, but which make very clear indirect claims to divinity. Again for those who are unaware of the structure of the four Gospels, it needs saying that John was written many years after the other three, probably by the apostle John in old age, after many years of senior church leadership. We have commented in meditations many times in the past, about the tendency in the elderly, to reflect back on things many years ago, which come clearer in the memory than things that happened yesterday! This would easily account for why John wrote such a distinctive Gospel that is full of profundity, meaning and significance.

Clearly as he allowed his mind to go back to those three most significant years of his life (when he was either in his later teens or early twenties), no doubt prompted by the Lord, and saw and heard again his Master speaking and acting in those years, he realised that there had been so many things the others had not recorded, things of immense significance which the early church had not even understood. Thus we find included in his Gospel, these ‘I am’ sayings.

Again we have briefly commented on this before but it bears examining more fully now. When God revealed Himself to Moses, the name He gave Moses was, “I Am” and the Jews were very much aware of that name and avoided the use of any sentence structure where “I am” could be construed to have divine implications. It is thus beyond coincidence that Jesus used that sentence structure again and again.

In respect of the “I am” in our verses above, we find in the Old Testament, the following prophecy: “I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd,” (Ezek 34:23) so this could be a messianic fulfilment, yet there is that nagging question that must have been in the minds of the Jews over whether he was claiming something more, because in the Old Testament, God was THE shepherd (Gen 49:24, Psa 79:13, 95:7, Psa 23). When Jesus speaks of himself being the “good shepherd” that adjective singles him out, for as Jesus himself was to say elsewhere, “No one is good–except God alone.” (Mk 10:18). But there are a lot more of these sayings, but with limited space we’ll only be able to make brief references to each of them. Let’s take them in the order we find them.

Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life,” (Jn 6:35). The context for this is very clear. The Jews had just talked about the manna that God had given their forefathers and we find, “Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (v.32,33). He thus declares himself as the one who has come from heaven to give life. This is a far bigger claim that merely that of a deliverer-Messiah, for only God can give life! It’s a very clear claim to divinity.

He said, `I am the light of the world.” (Jn 8:12). Yet it was accepted that “God is light” (1 Jn 1:5) but Jesus claims to be the one who comes to dispel the darkness of sin and evil. In the light of all the Biblical references to light and God, if Jesus wasn’t God then this would seem to be a very competitive challenge to God!!!

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” (Jn 10:9). He is the one way in to God’s kingdom. Surely God is the gatekeeper to His realm and no one enters but by His say, and thus Jesus is claiming equality of role with God.

Jesus said to her,`I am the resurrection and the life.” (Jn 11:25). We have observed previously that God alone is the source of life and resurrection as seen in the Old Testament. That which only God can do, Jesus now claims to do.

Jesus answered, `I am the way and the truth and the life.” (Jn 14:6). What a claim: “I am the way to God, I am ultimate reality and I alone am the source of all life.” We haven’t time to justify that interpretation but that is essentially what Jesus was saying. It is a claim, which if he wasn’t God, could only be attributed to a megalomaniac, but everything else in the records denies that conclusion. He was far from that!

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” (Jn 15:1). Without going into detail, the vine was the people of God (Psa 80:8) or the life of God flowing in His chosen people. Jesus is thus claiming to be the source of the people of God – who are the branches. As we’ve seen previously all life resides in God alone.

In each of these enigmatic sayings there is a claim to a greatness that is far more than a mere Messianic deliverer. There is a claim to life and provision that only comes, in fact, from God Himself. Aware that, frustratingly, this has been only the skimpiest of studies of a great subject, we simply recommend that the student spends time meditating on each of these sayings and researches for themselves the backgrounds that point towards God. We reiterate, that within these sayings Jesus is making claims to something far more that mere deliverer. These sayings all point to the very character or being of God and Jesus claims that for himself.