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Four Great Reasons to Follow Jesus Christ

The Gospel of John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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1. We will have the light of life (vs. 12). 2. We will have the truth we can trust (vs. 13-18). 3. We will have a home in Heaven (vs. 14; 21-23). 4. We will have His Heavenly Father (vs. 15-20).

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Four Great Reasons to Follow Jesus Christ

The Gospel of John

John 8:12-23

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - December 28, 2016

(Revised September 7, 2019)

BACKGROUND:

*Please open your Bibles to John 8:12. Here, the Feast of the Tabernacles had just ended. It was one of the three major feasts each year, so a great crowd was still gathered together in Jerusalem.

*One of the main ceremonies during the Feast of the Tabernacles was the "Illumination of the Temple." In the Temple Court of the Women, the priests set up four enormous stands. Each of those stands held four golden bowls for oil. These 16 golden bowls were reached by ladders and filled with oil. They used the old clothes of the priests for wicks. When those huge lamps were lit at night, the light shined all over Jerusalem. The great blaze lit up every courtyard in the city, and it burned all night long.

*But the next morning, when that man-made fire began to flicker and die, Jesus cried out, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.'' (1)

*"I am the light of the world." This is the second of eight "I AM" statements Jesus spoke in John's Gospel, and they are only recorded in John. Jesus made these statements to help people understand that before He was born as a baby in Bethlehem, He was and is the Lord God Jehovah of the Old Testament.

*The first time God ever revealed Himself by the name "I AM" is in Exodus 3, where the Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush. In Exodus 3:10-14, the Lord said this to Moses:

10. "Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.''

11. But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?''

12. So He said, "I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.''

13. Then Moses said to God, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?''

14. And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM.'' And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.' ''

*In Hebrew this name "I AM" was "Jehovah" or "Yahweh." And this great name for God shows up over 6,800 times in the Old Testament! The exact pronunciation and spelling have been lost, because this name is so holy that the Old Testament scribes and teachers didn't dare to pronounce it or completely write it out. Instead, they would write the Hebrew letters equal to our letters YHWH. In many of our English Bibles it shows up as LORD written with all capital letters. (2)

*The name "Jehovah" also shows up almost a thousand times in the New Testament because the name "Jesus" means "Jehovah is salvation." And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM.'' And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'''

*Jesus wants the whole world to know that He is the "I AM" Lord God of the Old Testament. With this background in mind, let's read vs. 12-23, and as we read, please think about why we should follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

MESSAGE:

*Take a moment to think about our sun. We tend to take it for granted, but our local star really is amazing. God created our sun to be 93 million miles away, and 864,000 miles across. It's so big that about a million earths could fit inside! And at the center, our sun is over 28 million degrees hot!

*Without the heat and light of the sun, life could not exist on the earth. But the spiritual light of Jesus Christ is infinitely more important. Jesus is the light of the world! And here He shines the light on 4 great reasons to follow the Lord.

1. FIRST: WE WILL HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE.

*Again, in vs. 12, Jesus spoke to them saying, "I am the light of the world. He who FOLLOWS Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.'' Without Jesus Christ, we are always walking in spiritual darkness. And you know what happens when you walk in the dark: You stumble and fall. Only, without Jesus, you stumble and fall forever.

*Without Jesus, we are always walking in spiritual darkness, and without Jesus, we can never have the light of life.

*Luke and Matthew both remind us how desperately people need the Lord's light of life. About 3 months before Jesus was born, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit. And he began to prophesy about baby John and the coming Messiah.

*In Luke 1:76-79, John the Baptist's father said:

76. "and you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,

77. to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins,

78. Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;

79. to give LIGHT to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.''

*Then at the very beginning of the Lord's ministry, Matthew 4:13-16 says this about Jesus:

13. . . leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali,

14. that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

15. "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles:

16. the people who sat in darkness saw A GREAT LIGHT, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death LIGHT has dawned.''

*Everybody desperately needs Jesus Christ! He is the only true Light of life. With Jesus, "the people who sat in darkness saw a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.''

*What would the world be like without the sun? -- Cold, dark and dead, wandering aimlessly through the universe with no hope of ever having life. That's what people are like without Jesus Christ.

2. BUT WHEN WE FOLLOW JESUS, WE WILL HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE. WE WILL ALSO HAVE THE TRUTH WE CAN TRUST.

*In vs. 13-14, God's Word stresses the Lord's truthfulness:

13. The Pharisees therefore said to Him, "You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.''

14. Jesus answered and said to them, "Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true . . .

*The Lord stressed His honesty again in vs. 15-18. There Jesus said this to those unbelieving Jewish leaders:

15. "You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.

16. And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.

17. It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true.

18. I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.''

*If it had been back in Abraham's day, the Lord might have rained fire and brimstone down on those stubborn men like He did on Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). If it had been back in Moses' day, the Lord might have miraculously opened the earth to swallow those rebellious rulers (Numbers 16). But there Jesus stood with the greatest humility the world will ever see, and patiently tried to win them over with the truth.

*Today we live in a generation where many seek to deny the very existence of truth. But the Lord is still patiently trying to reach people with the truth. And we can always trust in the Lord, because He always tells the truth. Jesus Christ is so honest that He can even say, "I am the truth!" (John 14:6)

*Titus 1:2 says Christians are "in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began." GOD CANNOT LIE! He can do an infinite number of good things, but God cannot sin. He cannot lie, so the words of Jesus Christ are always dependable. We can count on His Word. We can count on Him! And we must count on Him.

3. WHEN WE FOLLOW JESUS, WE WILL HAVE THE TRUTH WE CAN TRUST. WE WILL ALSO HAVE A HOME IN HEAVEN.

*Jesus talked about His heavenly home in vs. 14. Here again the Lord said: "Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going."

*In this verse the Lord was boldly and uniquely connecting Himself with God the Father, both in the eternal past and the eternal future. Rightly so, because Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. And Heaven is His home.

*The Lord talked about His heavenly home again down in vs. 21-23:

21. Then Jesus said to them again, "I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.''

22. So the Jews said, "Will He kill Himself, because He says, 'Where I go you cannot come'?''

23. And He said to them, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world."

*We are from beneath, but He is from above. Jesus came down from His home in Heaven, and after His resurrection, that's where He returned. What an amazing truth! What an amazing place!

*In this life we can never fully grasp the wonders of Heaven. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:9, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.''

[1] WE CAN'T FULLY UNDERSTAND THE GLORIES OF HEAVEN, BUT GOD GIVES US GLIMPSES IN HIS WORD.

*Revelation 21:2 says, "Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Heaven is going to be incredibly astounding! Here, the best thing John can compare it to is a bride, coming down the aisle, all dressed up for her husband.

*In Revelation 21:9-16, John also said:

9. Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife."

10. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

11. having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

12. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

13. three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

14. Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15. And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.

16. The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.

*Twelve thousand furlongs: Church, that's fifteen hundred miles, -- all the way from Texas to Pennsylvania! Fifteen hundred miles long, fifteen hundred miles wide and fifteen hundred miles high! But you won't get tired going up the stairs! (3)

[2] GOD GIVES US GLIMPSES OF HEAVEN IN HIS WORD. HE ALSO GIVES US GLIMPSES IN THE TESTIMONIES OF CHRISTIANS CLOSE TO DEATH.

*There have been many of these testimonies. Over the years, I have known probably 7 or 8 people who have seen Heaven and come back to tell us a little about it. Here's part of a hope-filled testimony Billy Graham gave about his grandmother:

"The first death in our immediate family was that of my maternal grandmother, Lucinda Coffey. Grandmother talked often about her husband, Ben Coffey, who had been badly wounded in the Civil War.

*Ben was wounded while serving with the Eleventh North Carolina Regiment, which led the advance on Gettysburg from the west July 1, 1863. Shrapnel almost severed his left leg. While Ben was lying on the battlefield, a bullet grazed his right eye, blinding it forever. Doctors were forced to amputate his wounded leg sometime later. Ben's friends testified to his concern for spiritual values. I never knew him; he died in 1916 at the age of 74.

*When Grandmother Coffey died, I was in elementary school, and my sister Catherine and I were called out of school. The manner of her dying became a legacy of faith for our family."

*She had been very weak, but "when she died, the room seemed to fill with a heavenly light. . . She sat up in bed and almost laughingly said, 'I see Jesus! He has His arms outstretched toward me. And there's Ben! He has both of his eyes and both of his legs!'" (4)

*These are tiny glimpses of the infinite perfection ahead for everyone who puts their trust in Jesus Christ.

4. WHEN WE FOLLOW JESUS, WE WILL HAVE A HOME IN HEAVEN. AND WE WILL HAVE HIS HEAVENLY FATHER.

*In vs. 15-19, Jesus told the Pharisees:

15. "You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.

16. And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.

17. It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true.

18. I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.''

19. Then they said to Him, "Where is Your Father?'' Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.''

*Jesus said, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.'' The Lord made this crucial statement twice in John's Gospel. Here in vs. 19 He was speaking to the Pharisees, then in John 14, Jesus was speaking to His disciples on the night before the cross.

*"If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.'' Jesus can say that because He is the perfect revelation of God the Father. That's why in Colossians 2:9, Paul said, "In Him (i.e. in Jesus) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."

*Hebrews 1:1-8 puts it this way:

1. God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets.

2. has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

3. who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

4. having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

5. For to which of the angels did He ever say: "You are My Son, today I have begotten You''? And again: "I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son''?

6. But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: "Let all the angels of God worship Him.''

7. And of the angels He says: "Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.''

8. But to the Son He says: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom."

*Jesus Christ is the perfect revelation of God the Father, and it was a shocking revelation to the Jews.

*C. S. Lewis explained: "Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. . .

*Among Pantheists, like the Hindus, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world Who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what Jesus said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips." (5)

*Of course, it was shocking, but it was true! It is true. When we believe in Jesus Christ, when we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, when we know Him, we will also know His Heavenly Father in a personal way. His Father in Heaven will also be OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN.

*But it never could have happened without the cross. Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Day to die on the cross for our sins. And vs. 20 reminds us that God set the day and the hour of Jesus' death before the beginning of time.

*Remember that the Jewish rulers had been trying to kill the Lord for months. But vs. 20 says, "These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come."

*John Gill explained why God's Word probably mentions the Treasury. This was the place in the Temple that contained 13 large chests for voluntary offering money. It was a very public place. And that tells us Jesus was teaching openly, in a very bold and public manner. Even so, "no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come." (6)

*But in six more months, His hour did come: The hour for the cross, the time when Jesus would be lifted up on the cross to take the punishment for all of our sins. The Light of the world took on all of that darkness for us! Think how much the Lord suffered for us.

*Up at McClendon in West Monroe, we had a Prayer Room off the foyer. It had a few chairs, and a little one-drawer hutch for storage. One day I was looking for an Operation Christmas Child brochure, and I reached way back in the drawer without looking.

*On Easter that year, we had a special display that included a life-size crown of thorns. The thorns on that crown were about two inches long. And I did not know that after Easter someone stored that crown of thorns in the drawer.

*But I found out when I ran one of those thorns about halfway down into my thumbnail. "Oww! -- What was that?" It was just a little stick from a thorn. But it hurt. And I thought: "How much more did Jesus hurt for me?" He wore the crown of thorns. He suffered the agony of the cross. He took all of the punishment for our sins!

CONCLUSION:

*The Light of the world took on all of that darkness for us, so we could have the light of His life. Thank God for the cross of Jesus Christ! So put your trust in Lord. Worship the Lord. Follow the Lord. And let the light of Jesus Christ begin to shine through you.

(1) Adapted from:

-"Barclay's Daily Bible Study Series - NT" by William Barclay - Revised Edition - Copyright 1975 - First published by the Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland - The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - "The Light Men Failed to Recognize" - John 8:12-20

-Burge, John - NIVAC - pp. 255-256 - Source: SermonCentral sermon "The One Who Can Lead Us Out of Darkness" by Jonathan McLeod - John 8:12-12

-goodnewsaboutgod.comstudiesspiritualhome_studyfeast_of_tabernacles.htm

(2) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Jehovah/Yahweh - I AM" by Marc Kelley - Exodus 3:1-15

(3) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Heaven Out of this World" by Dave Martin - Revelation 21:1-3

(4) JUST AS I AM - The Autobiography of Billy Graham, Harper San Francisco and Zondervan, 1997 - p. 4

(5) C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, New York: MacMillan, 1977, pp 54-55 Copyright 2010 C.S. Lewis Institute - Reflections is published monthly by the C.S. Lewis Institute - 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301, Springfield, VA 22151-2110, 703.914.5602, 800.813.9209, fax 703.894.1072 - www.cslewisinstitute.org/webfm_send/60

(6) JOHN GILL'S EXPOSITION OF THE BIBLE by Dr. John Gill, D.D. - 1697-1771 - Published in 1746-1766, 1816 - John 8:20

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