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Changes: The Light of the World

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Been here two years… and it’s starting to feel like normal… i know this because I can walk around the house in the dark.
Walking around…in the dark.
Feelings and experience are OK as long as things don’t change, but when life sends you a curve ball… when you find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings, feelings and experiences don’t help at all.
Needing money… now… When we began to talk…there were more questions than answers leaving us to speculation.
Have you ever been there? In uncharted territory, only guessing at what could be around the corner?
What will the doctors say?
What is going to happen now?
Trying to figure your way through the dark by feel and experience is simply speculation, because you don't’ really know what’s there. You don’t know your dog’s antlers are all over the floor of the living room. or the worst, you don’t realize the lego pieces are all over the place. No you are just going by feel and experience, and the problem is that often times when it’s too late, it’s too late.
Anyone who has ever stepped on a lego piece in the dark, or stumped your toe on some furniture in the dark knows what I’m talking about.
Wouldn’t it be better to have some light?
Jesus says, spiritually, that he came as a revelation to us. In today’s text he is going to give us a simple teaching that when we accept it, it changes everything.

Where are we?

Herod’s Temple

Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles
living in “tents” remembering that God is with them just as he was when he brought them into freedom.
Daily priests trip to Pool of Siloam
I am living water
People are divided on who they think Jesus is…prophet, messiah, fraud

John 8:12-30

John 8:12–30 NIV
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.” 13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” 14 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. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” 19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come. 21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.” 22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?” 23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” 25 “Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” 27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

I am the light of the world

This statement is just as powerful as the previous I am statement, maybe even more so. Especially once you take time to understand what’s happening and where it’ happening.

The Outer courts… Gentiles
Court of women … for Jewish men and women and converts
Court of Priests … only Jewish men who were making offerings and priests could enter
13 receptacles for offerings were in the Court of women…that way everyone could present their own offerings to God.
#1 & #2 for the half shackle temple tax that everyone had to pay. 
#3 & #4 were where women put money to purchase the two pigeons that they needed to offer to purify themselves from childbearing. 
#5 was where the money went to purchase the wood for the fire on the alter. 
#6 for the incense in the alter.  Five and six then for things related to the sacrifices. 
#7 was designated as the receptacle to keep up the golden vessels of the temple.  To hire the people to clean them and have money to replace them. 
#8 - #13 were for the general fund.  Anything and everything else.
Here is where people gather to make the daily offerings during the Feast which God commanded them to give in Leviticus 23:33-40, It is here that Jesus decides to proclaim:
John 8:12 NIV
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’s an exclusive claim that Jesus is making about himself here… I am THE light of the world.

Who is Jesus?

THE light...
No other… I’m necessary… this world needs me… the world can’t function as it was intended without me...
Jesus is making the claim that he is God.
Back in chapter 7, that’s the reason for the uproar among the leadership… This was blasphemy… unless it were true.
And Jesus certainly believed it were true.
Using the I AM name of God was clear… especially combined with everything else he said here in this passage.
Jesus says he is the son of God...
John 8:19 NLT
19 “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.”
Jesus says he is from heaven...
John 8:23 NIV
23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.
Jesus says he is the savior...
John 8:24 NIV
24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”
Jesus says he is doing God’s work...
John 8:29 NLT
29 And the one who sent me is with me—he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.”
The light of the world...
Not the light of Jerusalem, Judea, Israel…But the world. NO one would say this.
But that’s exactly what Jesus was saying… remember back in Chapter 3
This was a declaration by Jesus that he was God. Isaiah records a prophetic account that the teachers in the synagogue knew was a statement from God to his Messiah
Isaiah 42:6–7 ESV
6 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
You see when Jesus says he is the Light of the world… He is the one who opens eyes… to lead prisoners to freedom from darkness. Jesus is making a powerful statement… one that can’t be ignored.
Because this statement is not just about who he is… but why he is here,

Why is he here?

Hear it again:
John 8:12 NIV
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.”
You see another thing happens during the feast of tabernacles. Remember this was about remembering God’s deliverance in the desert so God commanded the Israelites to camp out of their homes for the week.
Then every morning of the feast the priests bring water down to pour out on the altar as a sign that God is their provider.
But the Israelites were led through the desert by a pillar of fire; the Shikinah glory of God at night and by a pillar of smoke in the day… this was the presence of God.
So in Jesus’s day, at Herod’s Temple, in the court of women, where the offerings are made, there are 4 large candlelabras. These are very large… I read a report that they were 75 feet tall, taller than the walls of the temple. The wicks of the torches were made from the garments of the priests… their glory. It was to be a reminder to the people of God’s Shikinah leading them. It’s said that these candelabras could be seen through out Jerusalem during the feast… The temple, atop the temple mount, was a sign to everyone in the city.
It’s in view of these candelabras that Jesus proclaims … I am the Light of the world.
I hope you are seeing this. Jesus is making some strong statements about who he is and what he is doing here during this feast.
Just as God led the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, Jesus is coming to lead the entire world out of darkness.
But in order for him to lead us out of darkness, it requires us to follow him. In order for Jesus to lead us from a life of sin, we have to follow him.
The problem is though, the darkness. Many of us don’t even realize just how dark the place is we are in. Our eyes have adjusted to the dark so much that we don’t even realize it’s dark anymore.
And just like when I wake up after Michelle turns out all the lights, we are left to get around by feel and experience; actually proud of ourselves that we can function pretty well in the dark.
But Jesus came as a revelation.
A revelation as the light of life.
But That’s where we are. Problem is many don’t realize they aren’t walking in the light of life, they are actually in darkness. Surveys say that 50% of Americans are Christians.... Would you say that’t true by looking at our world?
Is this about going to church??? “I don’t need church to believe in God and Jesus.”
…No but you need the church, faith community to live out your faith. This is in the dark thinking because if you believe it’s possible to have a personal faith, you don’t believe Jesus b/c he called us to love one another… serve one another… forgive one another… help one another… bless one another. It’s hard to live out your beliefs… doing these “one another”s if you don’t have others in your life.
That’s how Jesus describes true belief… it changes behavior… it reshapes a person from the inside out. But this person probably doesn’t realize that b/c they are still in the dark.
What is it that makes you a Christian? What is it that puts you in right relationship with Jesus?

How does he want us to respond?

Following him.
How bout that…can you believe that. Jesus didn’t say be perfect; stop sinning. He said just follow me. That’s a relief.
Well before you get too comfortable… not only did Jesus NOT say be perfect… he also didn’t say just believe… he said believe and follow.
Our response isn’t to be church members… even to be believers… but to be followers.
Would you say you are following Jesus? Now many of us might be quick to say well yes… you see me in church don’t you? I’m listening to this on my iphone.
Ok, give me some grace to ask a question. Is your faith the same today as it was a month ago? A year ago?
If you say yes, well let me say I love you…and Jesus loves you. We are both glad you are here today, but I’m not so sure you are really following, because following implies movement, change, growth. Jesus wants us to follow… to keep in step, as we do, our relationship with him gets deeper. This requires that we lean into the spirit of God at work in us, leading us to love Him, convicting us of sin, calling us to repentance, picking us up when we fall and helping us get back in step.
we have identified these three movements… gather, grow, go. there should have been a flier near you when you sat down today. Inside it you will see this little graphic. These simply express the rhythm of life for a disciple.
Gather to connect with God and other believers
Grow in relationship with Jesus and a small group
Go empowered by the Holy Spirit to serve and reach others
This is what following looks like…gathering, growing, and going out.
Many people today are tempted to say… “but I don’t have time.” We all know how short life is… do you really have the time NOT to follow Jesus?
Jesus did all these… He spent time with God and others, he invested time in relationships, he served and reached out to others… these were the things he taught his disciples to do as well.
So we never stop doing these because these are they the way of following Jesus. Now we don’t keep doing the exact same things because as we follow him, we find that our love gets deeper, we know Jesus better, he knows us better, we begin to love what he loves. We can’t help but change when we follow Jesus. So as I gather I begin to take on roles of service in my gathering. My growing in relationship with Jesus begins to take on new spiritual disciplines. My going out to serve changes from taking part in things to leading things, bringing others in, helping others discover and live out their giftedness. Everything I do as I follow Jesus continues while it grows and changes.
You may only have one of these… it’s sort of like my uncle taught me when I told him I had a flat… he said it’s only flat on one side..... but being flat on one side makes the whole thing off.
Spiritually speaking to be healthy, we need to follow Jesus, that means all areas of our spiritual life need to be functioning.

So what do you say?

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