I Am the Light of the World : John 8:12-30 


Q: How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: How many can you afford?

Q: How many Psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Only one, but the bulb has got to really WANT to change.

Q: How many ‘Real Men’ does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None: ‘Real Men’ aren’t afraid of the dark.

Q: How many ‘Real Women’ does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None: A ‘Real Woman’ would have plenty of real men around to do it.


Q: How many TV evangelists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One; but for the light to continue, send in your donation today.

Q: How many Anglicans does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Ten; one to change the light bulb and nine to say how much they liked the old one.


"Lightbulb changing" jokes are popular these days. Every group of people, every profession you can imagine has been the brunt of them. WHY? Light bulbs aren’t that hard to change! But the joke isn’t so much about a “light bulb” as it is about how individuals and organizations deal with every day problems and challenges. These jokes don’t so much play on the problem of changing of the light as on our personality traits and weaknesses. But in our text today, the focus is different. In our text the problem IS the light. Jesus said: “I am the light of the world…” and automatically, the Pharisees jump down His throat.  What is the deal? Why are these men so upset?
Well… they’re upset because Jesus has been consistently poking holes in their fairly obvious hypocrisy. They wanted to look righteous but not be righteous – and Jesus called them on it.

He has challenged their hypocrisy in their fasting and praying and tithing. He has pointed out the emptiness of their fancy rules and regulations. He has exposed all their pretense and haughtiness. Jesus exposed them as light should expose darkness…
Why would Jesus do that? Because He was light and they were darkness - and they couldn’t stand it.

In John 3 Jesus explains the effect his coming into the world has upon people "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people 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.” (John 3:19-20)

Easter is just a week away - the most important festival in the Christian year. The day when more people will attend church and take communion than on any other day, and yet the majority of people in our society are still in darkness about who Jesus is and why he came. Let me show you a short clip from a recent survey. If we had undertaken that survey in Virginia Water, among our friends and neighbours, do you think we would have got a different set of replies? Please turn with me to John 8. I want to draw out three principles.

1. The Occasion of Jesus Testimony

To set the scene let me just read a few verses from the immediate context. Read 7:37-38.

The Setting of Jesus Claim: The Feast of Tabernacles 

It was one of the three great pilgrimage festivals of the Jewish Year.  The Feast lasted seven days, from the 15th to the 22nd of  the seventh month. It was a time of great rejoicing. Every Jewish male was required to attend. Jerusalem was packed. But there was plenty of room at the hotels.  That’s because everybody went camping, living out of doors in home made tents, put together from the branches of palm trees.  This was to remind everyone of the Exodus and the way their forefathers had wandered through the desert for forty years.  In the Temple special sacrifices were offered on each of the seven days, reaching a climax on the last day, the great day of the feast, when the people could leave their booths for the final celebrations. During the feast there were two very important events. The first was a great procession led by the priests to the Pool of Siloam to collect water which was ceremonially carried back to the Temple through the Water Gate, and poured out. It was a vivid reminder of the Lord's provision of water during the Exodus. It was at this point that Jesus cried out,

"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."  (John 7:37-38)


Jesus could not have picked a more controversial moment to make this great promise and claim about Himself.  He was claiming to be no less than the one, the very One they were  commemorating for giving them the water in the first place. The context shows us how the people responded.  Read 7:40-44.

That was the first important ceremony in the Feast of Tabernacles which Jesus applied to Himself. The second was even more dramatic. The Feast actually went on for seven days and seven nights. To make this possible, each night four huge candelabra were erected in the Court of the Women to provide illumination for the whole Temple area, and the surrounding galleries packed with pilgrims. They were very large, the height of the Temple walls.  The Temple itself was built on the highest point in the city of Jerusalem, so these huge flaming torches could be seen right across the city giving light to its squares, courts and lanes.

All night long until the cock crowed the next morning, the greatest, wisest and holiest men in Israel danced before the Lord singing psalms of joy and praise while the Levites played harps, lyres, cymbals, trumpets, and other instruments of music. It was some party.... Imagine the scene, the night sky dark, the Temple brightly light by the flames, the Court area packed with pilgrims, and priests.  it was then that Jesus stood up and said,  "I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness" (John 8:12). The Setting of Jesus Claim. 

The Source of Jesus Claim: A Messianic Hope

The flaming candelabra were not simply lit so that the party could go on all night. The light was a powerful symbol. It was a symbol

1. The Shekinah Glory of God

The Shekinah, the glory of God seen as a "pillar of fire at night" which had led Israel on the journey through the wilderness to the promised land. That’s what made Jesus declaration in John 8:12 so controversial.

2. The Messianic Hope

The lights were also associated with the great expectation of the coming Messiah, and of the harvest of peoples turning to the Lord.  (Isaiah 62:1-3)  The Jewish teachers taught that the name of Messiah was "Light". David used the phrase to describe the Lord in Psalm 27, and of the Messiah in Psalm 118.  In the very last chapter of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, the Messianic hope burns brightly, "For you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness, or the dawn from on high will rise with healing in its wings..." 


When Mary and Joseph met wise old Simeon in the Temple, he knew he had been allowed to live to see the Messiah.  On taking the baby Jesus in his arms he cried out in praise to  God....  "My eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and for the glory of your people Israel."  The Setting of Jesus Claim, the Source of Jesus Claim.

The Significance of Jesus Claim: The Nature of God

The Uniqueness of Jesus “I am the light...” 

Jesus was making the audacious claim to be nothing less than Divine. The one who had led His people through the desert, the one they had longed for had now arrived

The Universality of Jesus  “of the world”

Jesus was claiming to be greater than all the other religious leaders. He was not simply a prophet to the Jews. 

His claim is universal. All religions most certainly do not lead to God. There is only one way, and He's it.

The Unambiguousness of Jesus "...whoever follows me"

His simplicity is refreshing. No religious humbug, no qualification, no fudging. His promise is crystal clear.  Notice Jesus does not say "My teaching is the light of the world.”  He didn't come to give important teaching. He came to give Himself.

The Ultimatum of Jesus  “never walk in darkness but… have the light of life.” 
The choice is infuriatingly either/or. There's no in between, no neutrality. It is either the light with Christ or darkness without him.  What does it mean to walk in darkness? In what ways is the world in darkness? There were two examples on the front pages of our news papers this week - probably the two greatest moral issues that should define how we vote in the next general election - and the two moral issues on which liberals and conservative Christians are deeply divided at the moment. Abortion and Gay Rights.  When people reject moral absolutes based on the character and will of God such as contained in the Ten Commandments we have not only moral decay but moral anarchy. The Occasion of Jesus Testimony.

2. The Opposition to Jesus Testimony      8:13-29

“Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no-one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.” (John 8:14-16)


Not surprisingly the religious leaders found Jesus claim threatening. The Father had verified Jesus claims, by the miracles which Jesus had performed. Miracles no one since the apostles have replicated. But to the blind sceptics that wasn't enough.
They ask Jesus two sarcastic questions. 

Who is your father?             8:19

Who are you?                       8:25

Questioning his paternity, ignoring the scriptures that spoke of his coming, blind to his miracles. Notice how Jesus replies. Jesus says at least five things about Himself.

The Son of God   

"You do not know me or my Father," Jesus replied. "If you knew me, you would know my Father also." (John 8:19)

The Eternal One   

"You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:23)

The Saviour

“I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins." (John 8:24)

The Suffering Servant
"When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be.” (John 8:28)

The Sinless One

“The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." (John 8:29)

The Occasion of Jesus Testimony : The Messianic Hope .  The Opposition to Jesus Testimony: Blind Prejudice.

3. The Opportunity of Jesus Testimony       8:30

 “Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.” (John 8:30) Let the enormity of that promise sink in, "I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk  in darkness, but will have the light of life...."  It is not God’s intention to expose our darkness to everyone around us and thus force us to hide from his presence in our shame and disgrace. Its his intention to convince us that darkness isn’t the best place to live. As we turn away from our darkness and into His light, the shadows of the past fall behind us.

Lets apply this passage.

1. Jesus Christ is the source of light in our world.

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

2. As we follow Christ, His light is reflected in and through us.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14)

The light of Christ can enter into our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit through faith. When we believe and profess Jesus as Lord of our lives, we begin to reflect God’s glory.  Our vision of the church in Virginia Water is that every person in our community knows at least one Christ follower as a friend. Our aim is that on a daily basis everyone in our community will encounter a Christ follower in such a way that whether by word or deed, the light of Christ will shine upon them.

3. When we walk in the light of Christ, people are saved and God is glorified.

“let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Houses in Jerusalem during the time of Christ had one small window in them. Candles, of course, were used for lighting. When they were lighted, they were raised on a stand to maximize the light’s effects. Since there were no matches in those days, lighting the candle was difficult; therefore, when the family went out, the candle was taken down and placed under an earthen basket to reduce the risk of danger. Thus when the family returned, the candle was removed from the basket and placed on the candle stand.

Jesus tells us to position ourselves before people so that our light shines brightly, bringing glory to God. In other words, the light of Christ, which is in us, serves one grand purpose on this earth, and that is to bring glory to the Father. If others are coming to God because of the words we say and the things we do, it is because they are being drawn to the light of Christ in us, and that brings glory to the Father!

Anna Pavlova was a Russian ballet superstar of the early 1900s. Ms. Pavlova has been acclaimed as the greatest ballerina of all time. Her most memorable performance, however, took place after her death. Anna was to play the role she made famous, the Dying Swan, at the Apollo Theatre in London. Tragically, she contracted and died of pneumonia two days before performing the event.
Still, on the appointed night, a crowd of her fans packed the Apollo Theatre. The orchestra began playing, the curtain rose, a spotlight flashed through the dark, and the entire audience rose to its feet. They all stood gazing at a pool of light wandering around the stage, accompanied by the orchestral theme. As the light danced and the orchestra played, they remembered Anna Pavlova. In their hearts they could see her on stage, dressed in white with flashing dark eyes. And when the music stopped at last, they gave the vanished Anna a thunderous ovation that echoed on and on in the night. An empty stage with only a spotlight, but in their hearts she was alive. May that be true of you this Easter. Lets Pray.




With grateful thanks to John Stott’s Bible Speaks Today commentary on John, and Jeff Strite’s sermon on John 8 published on www.sermoncentral.com