I attend a men’s bible study and we have been going through the book of John. Currently we are in John chapter 8. It is all so rich and worthy of thought, we never do it justice. I suppose that is one of my motivations for placing these blogs up here. To give someone the chance to discover the depth of God’s word.
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
(John 8:12 KJV)
What is the context?
The last we saw Jesus he was sitting among a crowd, in the temple, teaching, when the Pharisees pushed a woman in front of him as they ranted about how she had committed adultery. One of the aspects of that story (it is reality, not fiction) is that the pharisees came ready to kill someone; that someone was Jesus, not the woman. Yes, that is an assumption but look at the story. There were no witnesses presented; there was no second party to the crime against the law, and though they refused to recognize how correct they were in bringing her to him, he was not a person recognized to be the judge. And, they brought the stones with them to carry out their judgment. How do I know they had stones meant to kill? Because after he challenged them they dropped their stones and slowly skulked away.
When Jesus stood to his feet the second time there was no one left but the woman, still standing there. If only the Pharisees had stayed they would have heard the five most important words in all the world, “neither do I condemn you!”
The crowd – we are not told when or how they parted but they had seen the Pharisees in action and these religious zealots were probably feared. Considering their entrance, the stones, and the anger, I imagine the crowd got out just as fast as they could.
The woman – Picture yourself in her shoes. God himself just told you that he does not condemn you, but then she did not know this was God, or did she? Consider also that she looked into the eyes of God, and who would want to leave after having those eyes look into your soul, especially after telling you that he did not condemn you.
So that leaves us with a gap in time, one we cannot resolve, and therefore must make an assumption about it.
This is another meeting.
Many years ago I heard a preacher talking about admonishing someone who tried to tell him about their dreams of Jesus. The speaker was not interested about what the image in the dream looked like, but what he said for the words could be then be validated, or not, against the word of God.
If what Jesus said is of the utmost importance, and it is, then let’s look at that and compare a couple of translations because even under what seems like the worst of conditions there is life in those words.
John 8:12 ESV 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.”
I am the light of the world. What does that mean? Clearly the impact is toward everyone, but does everyone enjoy that light? No; then why not? For one, there has to be an acceptance. Jesus was not selective, he poured out his blood so that the entire earth could have the opportunity to enjoy a life that sin had excluded us from. God spelled that out when he laid out the plans for the temple in desert. For no one with sin could enter his presence, therefore Jesus shed his blood on our behalf, giving us access to God. Now acceptance of all that is another thing all together and necessary to enjoy the hope that is in salvation.
Light eliminates darkness, but as you will see darkness implies shadow and obscurity as well. Just look casually around you, especially inside the church building and you will find that most are walking in at least the shadows of darkness. As we pass each other in the hall ways and say, “how are you doing,” not really caring about the answer so much as the formality, internally many are suffering from tremendous conflict inside.
Here is a little human understanding. Placing a candle randomly in a room produces some light there. There is no longer complete darkness, but there are things in a typical room that will obscure the light, and there are even places where the darkness can be fairly intense. Should you have a phobia you may not want to even go in that area without taking the light with you. But this is a human perspective for scripture tells us that God is light and there is no darkness in him at all.
1 John 1:5 ESV This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
So for Jesus to say I am the light, is to say that he is: that which shines, illuminates, God himself, and the eliminator of darkness. We would love to say the destroyer of darkness and that day will come, but we know that darkness still exists. We would have had no need for a light is there were no darkness, no obscurity or shadows, but there is and we still stumble in it.
This stumbling in the shadows is what we call sin. I know most of you have heard the explanations of where the term sin comes from. It is an old English word used in archery for missing the mark. Having shot competitive archery for a time allow me to expound. The mark or bulls-eye is about four inches in diameter, and at 80 yards out it seems to be about an inch. The bale holding the target has many point value rings but the goal is to hit the center smallest one obtaining most point value. Merely missing outside the bulls-eye is to miss the mark, but in life I was shooting at the target and struck it. Was I trying to hit the mark? Certainly. But to miss the bale holding the target completely demonstrates a lack of skill or effort and anyone can do that. While working toward improving your skills at hitting the bulls-eye is appropriate be careful not to get wrapped up in works (your thinking that you have to do this on your own). Our life and light is based in faith and God’s actions toward us. This light is a free gift and no one gets more or less, they merely become more skillful at eliminating the darkness, and obscurity that the enemy of our souls is constantly trying to push into your life.
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12 KJV)
The King James seems to be the most archaic in terms of colloquialisms, but is a great place to start if you are digging for life. If you use a modern version you can bypass some of the odd words like “followeth”. Let’s try that and see if it helps.
Once more Jesus addressed the crowd. He said,
I am the Light of the world.
He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark,
but will have the Light which is Life. (John 8:12 AMP)
But what are the implications when Jesus uses a word like follow and walking in the same sentence? (remember, I said there was life in the words, so that is what I am looking for)
The dictionary explains the word follow as:
1. To go after or behind; to walk, ride or move behind, but in the same direction.
2. To pursue; to chase; as an enemy, or as game.
3. To accompany; to attend in a journey.
Perhaps one of the most dramatic examples can be seen the Lord Of the Rings as Samwise followed Frodo to Mordach and middle earth.
Thayer’s definition states: to join one as a disciple, become or be his disciple.
The implications are that Jesus is asking for more than just a casual relationship.
A constant irritation
One of my life’s irritants is the consistent preaching from the standpoint of guilt and shame. How about instead of focusing on things that tend to promote sinning, perhaps focusing on things like:
1 John 3:4-6 NIV Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. (5) But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. (6) No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
Let’s be honest; guilt producing expositions (and it does not just come from pulpits) are meant to control and manipulate people. Sure, there may be the motivation to encourage a moral life but the truth is the one speaking is usually the one who is most torn by what they are saying and they do not trust God’s ability to do what he said, therefore they feel the need to control you.
Do you not understand that the Holy Spirit of God lives in you. That happened on the day you accepted Jesus Christ as Lord, understanding that he died and rose again to give you a new life and hope.
1 John 2:20-21 NIV But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. (21) I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.
Don’t get all bogged down in that word anointing, just understand that the moment he saw your acknowledgment and acceptance God poured out his life on you. You might have felt different, (I have heard it described so many ways, such as, it felt like a huge weight came off me.) but I know that over the course of time, and for many that was just hours later, most of the world seemed the same to you. People were still just as lousy as they were before, and for most of us there was no dramatic change in our language; we still had the ability to cuss like a sailor.
None-the-less God placed his spirit inside of you and that same Holy Spirit leads you and guides you into all truth and holds until the day of his return, that moment in which we hope. For some his return comes earlier through their passing from this life.
But thanks be to God! He always leads us triumphantly by the Messiah and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of knowing him. (2 Corinthians 2:14 ISV)
In whom you, having been given the true word, the good news of your salvation, and through your faith in him, were given the sign of the Holy Spirit of hope, (Ephesians 1:13 BBE)
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30 KJV)
Far to many struggle over the trinity, so let me give you a heads up. We all seem to grasp that there is a God who created the universe, and yet John’s gospel tells us Jesus was that Word and that Jesus was God. We are not allowed to exclude the Holy Spirit and yet do. Give the creation some serious thought and you come to realize that the Holy Spirit was there also. Jesus told the guys (120+ of them) that he was going back to the Father but would not leave them. How? By sending the Holy Spirit, the comforter. The Holy Spirit is God, no less than Jesus was. So make it easy on yourself, all three are God, God’s representative, aspects of God, and each has its own character, and methods of interacting with us. The power and purpose are the same, to magnify the Father, God.
But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you. (John 14:26 AMP)
He who follows Me…
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12 NASB)
This verse is a strong testament to eternal salvation, but there is a warning, the word follow, which seems to mean, one that follows as a disciple. That in my mind demonstrates a commitment, and I can think of many that came to Jesus in tears and were baptized before many of us, and still live like the devil. The answer to that is, it is not for me to judge, but certainly could explain why they never seem to have any light.
As a disciple of Christ I do not make it my goal and purpose to walk in darkness. Now that might be debatable if I base my understanding upon what I feel like or see.
Darkness is the Greek word skotia. It is only used 15 times. 13 of those are interpreted as darkness. 2 are defined as dark. Strong’s concordance explains that the word means: dimness, obscurity (literally or figuratively): – dark (-ness). And tells us that skotia is a derivative from skotos which include shadiness.
We can see that Jesus did not mean that it had to be pitch black, but merely the shadows of life.
Did Jesus tell us that we are protected from even walking in shadows? Faith tells us to stick our necks out on the line and say yes, but I think we are confusing the two things: Jesus is the light and there are times that the light is purely internal. Secondly, you have to walk through this life which is filled with darkness. How do you walk through the darkness and not be in it? That can only be an internal, spiritual thing.
Why or what keeps us out of the shadows? Having the light of life. Jesus is the light of life and receiving him into our your life is the key. You do that by giving control to him, receiving his forgiveness, and accepting that Jesus death and resurrection give us hope. That hope is in spending eternity with the Father and the glory he has prepared for us.
- Blind With 20/20 Vision pt1 (greatbaygospel.wordpress.com)
- The Light (jonathanpriceblog.wordpress.com)
- Darkness Cannot Hide From The Light (aussieawakening.wordpress.com)
- You Put Your Light In Me! (godssceneryandpromises.wordpress.com)
- Joseph of Arimathea: Sometimes doing what’s right means risking it all – Take courage (prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com)