JUNE 26, 2016
MAIN TEXT: JOHN 8:1-19
...but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Again 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.” So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”
GOD HAS ALWAYS PROVIDED LIFE AND LIGHT FOR HIS PEOPLE
Our world is still affected by darkness in our hearts and the hearts of others. It’s no wonder we are all drawn to the light. The words of Jesus in this passage come during the end of a special festival in Jewish tradition - the Festival of Tabernacles. This festival was celebrated in the Fall to remember when God provided for the Israelites’ ancestors who wandered in the wilderness and lived in tents. These days of wandering followed a new-kindled faith in the Great I Am who revealed himself to Moses in a miraculous way and proved to be everything they needed. He led them out of their dark days of slavery to the Egyptians, defeated their enemy, provided their needs and pointed to a future hope, renewing the promise God made at the fall, to send a savior who would restore all things.
The Apostle John, who walked and talked with Jesus for 3 1/2 years shares this account as another strong statement about the identity of Jesus Christ. The God of hope who provided for them during the days of Moses, who they celebrated during the festival, was standing before them; but they would not recognize him as such. It wasn’t because they couldn’t recognize the promised one, but more that they weren’t open to the possibility. They were more committed to their traditions than they were to the activity of God before them. Even the most “devout” of their day were only open to the activity of God if it fit within their terms. Their eyes were ever-watching for the savior, but their hearts were completely closed.
JESUS IS THE LIVING FULFILLMENT OF GOD’S PLAN
From these circumstances Jesus makes the bold claim, “I am the Light of the world…” To the casual reader, the words ‘I Am’ are simply a subject and a verb leading into the real content of what Jesus was saying. But to the Jewish listener, those two words were a bold claim that Jesus was the same essence as his Father in Heaven. He was claiming to be the Son of God. The words “light of the world” were important, but filling out and expanding upon the bigger “I Am” claim.
When God revealed himself to Moses as the Great I Am, the name conveyed the concept of absolute being, the One who is and whose dynamic presence works on our behalf. It conveyed the meaning of “I am who and what I am, and I do not change. I am here with you and for you.” These words were never more true than when the promised one, Jesus Christ, stood among the first century Israelites. He was physically with them and was the same provider, healer, protector, and forgiver their ancestors followed and trusted.
JESUS IS ON TRIAL….AS JUDGE
This “I Am” statement is placed in scripture after the story of a Jewish woman caught in the act of Adultery. To the religious leaders, Jesus’ claim to be The Light of the World was more scandalous than the events of the woman caught in adultery. His words greatly troubled the religious leaders, and they sought to trap him and, in essence, put him on trial, the whole while overlooking Jesus’ warnings that it was them (in fact the whole world) who was on trial before The Great I Am incarnate.
If Jesus pardons the woman caught in adultery, those trying to trap him believe He will be guilty of ignoring God’s law given to Moses. If he condemns her to death, He will be guilty of usurping or ignoring Roman obligations for execution and therefore guilty of treason to Rome. Despite their negative intent, he not only transcends the trap, he uses the opportunity to model grace and proclaim God’s goodness. Even in this way, he illustrates the phrase, “I Am the Light of the World...” The light of His goodness dispels the darkness of the situation.
JESUS IS THE ANSWER TO THE DARKNESS WE FACE
In a world that has always had such prevalent darkness, Jesus is the answer. Only the work of Christ on the cross can overcome the darkness within the individual. Only the message of Christ can dispel the darkness of a people or culture. Only the cause of Christ can cause a people to push back large-scale darkness of oppression of the powerless in our world. On every scale, it’s the true story of Jesus that chases the darkness out of the recesses of our hearts and our world.
Today, we still wrestle with both types of darkness pictured in the events surrounding Jesus’ proclamation of being the light of the world. Many are far from God, indulging in the sinful lust of the flesh, ignoring God’s best for them and avoiding Him and His church. Similarly, in heart, yet differing in appearance, many within the church have cleaned up their actions; yet continue to allow the darkness of individualism to cloud them from pursuing the heart of God. They only want what God wants if it fits within their framework and traditions. God can have the savior role, but not the Lord role within their lives.
Odds are good that you struggle with one of these perspectives more than another. The truth is we all likely struggle with both on some level. There’s hope found in the Great I Am, Trust in Him as both Lord and Savior. Jesus is the only escape for the darkness, facing your life and our world. Let His light shine on the dark places of your heart and may you reflect His light in your life.
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: John 8: 1-19
How has God always provided light for his people and how is Jesus the great Light for God’s People?
What areas of your life would you say you’ve experienced darkness?
Discuss a time in your life where you needed light.
Why do the religious leaders want to destroy Jesus
Why is Jesus’ statement of “I Am” not merely just a subject and verb? How is this a declaration of his deity?