John Carter – December 24, 2017
Text(s): John 8:12
Series: Advent 2017
Title: Light and Darkness – Advent 5: Candle Lighting Service
Location/Event: Fortuna Baptist, CA
Main Point: Believe the genuine light, in the name of Jesus
Light and Darkness – Advent 5: The Candle Lighting Service
12 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.”
Walking in Darkness Sucks
Have you walked in the dark through your house? Is this a thrilling or terrifying experience? It seems that in the night my shins, toes, and knees are miraculously able to find every sharp object in the room as foolishly try to navigate without any lights… again. For most of us who have experienced the pain of stubbing our knee with a coffee table, we still participate in the foolish belief that next will be different. It seems no matter how bad the stubbed toe caused us to question the usefulness of pinky toes, we still seem to think that we won’t make that mistake again. But rarely do we turn a light on to combat the pain of contact. Instead, we just try harder. Perhaps we are stuck in a loop of pain that we just can’t seem to kick?
By this point, you are probably asking, what does this have to do with Christmas? And the answer to that question is, light. I believe that for most of us, we are walking around in this life in the dark. We keep hitting our shins, knees, and toes on the difficult and painful realities of this life. But for some strange reason, we never seek out the light which would save us from such pain and misery. This is the very theme that we have been dealing with for the last five weeks in our morning worship services in anticipation of Christmas Day.
Light was Created to Reveal – Genesis 1
Genesis 1:3 says, “then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” In Isaiah 45: 7 we God says, “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.” Looking at these verses we see that God is the author and creator of light and darkness. As we search the Bible we begin to see that light is used to reveal while darkness is used to conceal. Yet God rules over both.
Light Illuminates and Protects – Psalm 27
Psalm 27:1 says, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Not only is the light a creation of God, but we learn that YHWH (LORD) is also our light and salvation. How many time would we have been saved from the pain of a stubbed toe if we had only been able to see where we were going? In a much more profound way, God not only reveals things with his light, but he is also saving us with his light.
Light was Promised to Saved – Isaiah 9 & 11
Every person at various times waits for some form of salvation. Sometimes the salvation is simple but welcomed. Like when a friend rescues you from an uncomfortable conversation. Other times salvation is of great importance, like when a lifeguard drags a drowning victim from the water. In Isaiah 9:2 we learn of a prophecy made about a saving light shining across a deep darkness. “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.”
Light Will Never Go Out – Isaiah 59 & 60
But how often have moments of salvation come and then gone? Salvation that was temporary but quickly faded. We all long for salvation, but even deeper we long for a permanent salvation. Isaiah expands on his earlier prophecy when he looks forward and sees a time when, “The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.” This prophecy found in Isaiah 60:19 shows us that God is not only our salvation, but he is our eternal salvation. Never again will we be subject to the pains of this world as if walking in the darkness. Which is why John’s description in his account of Jesus’ life is so important.
Jesus is the Light of Life – John 1
John 1:1-5 says, “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John makes clear that the light from the very beginning, a light which was never created was Jesus of Nazareth, God who became flesh.
Turn to Jesus and Live – John 8
Now all of this may not feel like a very good Christmas story, but it is the most important Christmas story. Too often we hear the Jesus came to be some sort of a euphoric altruistic experience for all of humanity. He never really leaves the manger. He just stays there and reminds us to be a better version of ourselves. But that is not the Biblical understanding of Christmas. The Biblical understanding of Christmas is that we are all walking around in the darkness waiting for someone to save us from the enemy of death. Jesus didn’t come to be born. He came to die. But not just die, to raise from the dead, ascend to the Father and provide us all with access to eternal life. This is summed up when Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus came declaring that he was the light spoken of in the Old Testament. I want to encourage you to follow Jesus. Not a simple following like what you do when you follow cars on the road. But a deeply committed following, like when you were a small child and you tried to stay in the steps of your parents when walking down the beach. A following that not only changes where you are going but what you are doing and how you are doing it. Jesus isn’t asking you to take him along with you to have a better life. He is telling you to abandon your dreams, your aspirations, your hopes, your loses, your failures, and your pains to follow him. He is the light of the world. Will you turn to the light and gain life, or will you reject Christ and remain in eternal darkness?
Coming again to him Jesus spoke, saying, “I am the light of the world, the one following me—contrary to popular belief—will not walk about in the darkness. Instead, he will have the light of life.”