John 8:12

Sermon preached on October 02, 2016 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

When I was a teenager I used to go deer hunting with my father, my grandfather and my brother. We hunted mostly on old abandoned farms. When Cape Breton was first settled many of the people earned their living by having their own little farms. One of the things that they did was plant some apple trees on their farms. Deer like apples and just before dark they often come to the apple trees for a snack. So we would position ourselves a short way from the apple trees and hope they came in. One day the four of us were hunting in one of our favorite spots. We walked in about a half a mile on an old road to a field that covered about four or five acres. The house and barn were long gone but there were still some depressions where the house and barn had been. My father and brother decided to stay and hurt by the apple trees there and my grandfather and I decided to go father back into the woods to a much older farm. There was no road leading to it, but there was an old path that you could follow in the daylight. So we followed the windy path up the mountain side until we got to the depression in the earth where the old house had been. There was no field left, it had been taken over completely by the forest. But there was an apple tree nearby. So we settled down in the depression where the house had stood and hoped that some deer would visit the apple tree. Normally we would wait until it was dark before we started back to the car. But we were both concerned about being able to follow the path out of the woods when it got dark so we decided to head out while it was still light out. So just when it started to get dark a little bit, we got up to leave. We hadn’t seen any deer so we decided to give up. But just as we stood up we spooked a deer. We didn’t see him but from the snort he gave he was very close. We decided to sit down again and hope that he would give away his position. We waited and waited but he didn’t come in so we again got up to leave. By then it was just about dark and we looked and looked but we couldn’t find the path. The path came almost up to where the old house was, and we knew what direction it came from, because we were on the side of a gentle sloped mountain. We were shocked that we couldn’t even find the beginning of the path. We walked back and forth several times trying to pick it up but to no avail. The problem was we didn’t have a flashlight. We didn’t have any light at all. I went hunting with my grandfather many times after that, and from then on he never once went into the woods without a flashlight. He learned his lesson. But that night we had nothing. So we decided just head out through the woods. We were up on a mountain side and we knew the way out was down hill. There were some ups and downs, but overall, the way out was downhill. It was a moonless night and there must have been cloud cover because there were no stars that we could see. I couldn't believe how dark it was. We decided to walk with our rifles held out vertically at arms length in front of us to keep us from walking into trees. We went slowing in single file with my grandfather in front and me right behind him. It was slow going and for awhile we could see a little bit. I could see the outline of my grandfather's shadow in front of me. But as we went a little further I realized that I couldn't see him any longer. I thought I had lost him so I said,

"Grandpa, where are you?"

When he heard that he stopped walking and I crashed into him, because he was directly in front of me. It was the darkest darkness I had ever experienced.

In many ways darkness is a terrible thing. On study I saw reported that 49% of fatal car crashes happen at night. At first glance that might seem okay, but when your realize that there around 60% less vehicles on the road at night, the fatality rate per mile of travel is approximately three times higher than daytime hours. Darkness is not the only reason for the higher fatality rate, but it is a contributor. It's the same with aircraft accidents. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ Eglin Afb Fl, studied a ten year span from 1985 to 1994 to,

"ascertain whether a significantly disproportionate number of general aviation fatal aircraft accidents occur at night. The percentage of all fatal accidents that occur at night, collected over a ten year span, were compared to the percentage of hours flown at night. Research determined that there is a significantly disproportionate number of night fatal accidents."

In the north country here we know that it's a lot easier to run into a deer at night than it is during the day. Deer are harder to see at night. I don't know about you but when I get up in the night I don't turn the light on and it's not just because I don't want to wake Marg. I don't even open my eyes wide, because if I turn on a light or open my eyes wide I find it harder to get back to sleep. So I get up in the dark and I bump into things a lot more then than I do in the daylight.

It is true that darkness is not all bad. It enables us to rest, to sleep, to recuperate. But in the Bible it's often used in a very negative way, to represent negative things. Herman Bavinck tells us that in Scripture, (God and Creation, Reformed Dogmatics 2; p. 191)

" 'darkness' is a picture not just of ignorance and error but also of impurity and moral corruption, of sorrow and misery"

We see this in Ephesians 5:8–9 where Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians,

"For you were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light
(for the fruit of the light consists
in all goodness,
righteousness and truth")

Light represents goodness, righteousness, truth. Darkness represents the opposite of those things—evil, wickedness, falsehood. 1 John 2:11 speaks of someone who hates his brother. It says that he,

"is in the darkness and
walks around in the darkness;
he does not know where he is going,
because the darkness has blinded him."

We see this as well in Luke 22:53. When they came to arrest Him, Jesus said,

"Every day I was with you
in the temple courts,
and you did not lay a hand on me.
But this is your hour—
when darkness reigns."

Darkness there represents evil.

That darkness also stands for ignorance is clear from Psalm 82:5. It says,

"They know nothing,
they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;"

Ecclesiastes 2:14 tells us that,

"the fool walks in the darkness"

We also see this in Isaiah 9:2. The prophet wrote,

"The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living
in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned."

We see this as well in In 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul wrote,

"The god of this age
has blinded the minds of unbelievers,
so that they cannot see
the light of the gospel
of the glory of Christ,
who is the image of God."

Darkness is sometimes likened to being under the power of evil. We see this in Colossians 1:13 where the apostle Paul wrote of God the Father,

"For he has rescued us
from the dominion of darkness
and brought us into
the kingdom of the Son he loves,"

Jesus came to deliver fallen human beings from darkness. He said, (John 8:12)

"I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me
will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life."

He has come to deliver people out of their ignorance, their sin, the evil power that binds them.

Now this means several things.

First of all, it means that

people need Jesus.

In our natural condition we are in darkness. Outside of Jesus people are in darkness. In 1 Peter 2:9 the apostle wrote,

"But you are a chosen people,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people belonging to God,
that you may declare
the praises of him
who called you out of darkness
into his wonderful light."

We are called out of darkness. Or as we just saw from Colossians 1:13, we are rescued from the dominion of darkness. The word translated dominion refers to, ("ἐξουσία," BDAG, 353)

"the sphere in which power is exercised, domain"

The entire world, according to the Bible, is under the power of someone who belongs to the darkness. Fallen human beings outside of Jesus are under his power. In Ephesians 2:1–2 the apostle Paul wrote,

"As for you, you were dead
in your transgressions and sins,
in which you used to live
when you followed the ways of this world
and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air,
the spirit who is now at work
in those who are disobedient."

According to Romans 6:16 human beings outside of Jesus are slaves to sin. Those who don't know Christ are in darkness. They are in the power of the evil one. He has blinded them so that they can't see the glory of Jesus.

If anyone here is not a believer in Jesus, what this means is that

right now you're in darkness.

You need to realize that. This is one of the hardest things for fallen human beings to accept. We don't think that we're in darkness. If they are confronted with this truth they take it as an insult. They will say something like,

"What do you mean I'm in darkness? What do you mean that I'm not able to correctly evaluate things?"

This means two things for us in our evangelism.

First it shows

how much you need to pray for unbelievers.

They're in darkness. They're blinded by Satan. They can't find the light on their own. 2 Timothy 2:24–26 says,

"And the Lord's servant must not quarrel;
instead, he must be kind to everyone,
able to teach, not resentful.
Those who oppose him
he must gently instruct,
in the hope that
God will grant them repentance
leading them to a knowledge of the truth,
and that they will come to their senses
and escape from the trap of the devil,
who has taken them captive to do his will."

God needs to grant them repentance. He needs to release them from captivity. He needs to remove the blindness that sin and Satan has inflicted on them.

Secondly, it means that

don't let your faith be shaken when the world's intellectuals reject the gospel.

There are a lot of smart people in the world who reject the gospel. They will tell you that you're stupid for believing the gospel and following a 'mythical' Christ.

Don't let your faith be shaken by all their skepticism. Recognize that for all their intelligence they're in darkness. Satan has blinded them. Many intellectuals reject Christianity not because it's not cogent or intellectually indefensible, but because they want to keep their sin. The problem they have with Christianity is not intellectual but spiritual. In John 3:19–21 John wrote,

"This is the verdict:
Light has come into the world,
but men loved darkness instead of light
because their deeds were evil.
Everyone who does evil hates the light,
and will not come into the light
for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
But whoever lives by the truth
comes into the light,
so that it may be seen plainly
that what he has done
has been done through God."

Outside of Jesus even the smartest people in the world are in darkness. You can see evidence of it every day. If you watch a nature or astronomy show on TV you'll find that when they're amazed by something in this universe, they will praise Mother Nature, they will praise evolution or give credit to just blind luck, as if there is such a thing. Instead of seeing this world as they should, as something that should cause us to praise our great and glorious God, they do everything they can to deny it. They look at the sky and the heavens and they do not believe, as we read in Psalm 19:1–4,

"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world."

Most people who believe in evolution don't see God in the process at any point. In fact, they vigorously deny it. They're in darkness. Their minds are not neutral. Their minds have been corrupted by the fall into sin.

They need Jesus. He is the light of the world.

What does it mean that Jesus is the light of the world? In the context of John Jesus spoke these words shortly after the Feast of Tabernacles. Part of the ceremony of the feast was that on the first night, after the sun had set, two great lamps were lit in the courts of the temple. They were so bright that they cast their light over the entire city. The lamps brought to mind the pillar of cloud and fire that accompanied the people in the desert.

This was just one of three striking wilderness images in John chapters 6, 7 and 8. In chapter 6 we saw that Jesus was the new manna that was sent down from heaven. In chapter 7 it is revealed that He is the living water, a reference that takes us back to the water from the rock in the wilderness. In chapter 8, he is the light. This takes us back to the wilderness and the pillar of fire that led the Israelites.

The cloud and pillar of fire symbolized God's presence with His people. It provided light and the Bible tells us that God is light. (1 John 1:5) Exodus 13:21–22 say,

"By day the Lord went ahead of them
in a pillar of cloud
to guide them on their way
and by night in a pillar of fire
to give them light,
so that they could travel by day or night.
Neither the pillar of cloud by day
nor the pillar of fire by night
left its place in front of the people."

This cloud and pillar of fire clearly signified God's presence. In Numbers 10:35–36 the cloud is closely associated with God. We read,

"Whenever the ark set out,
Moses said, 'Rise up, O Lord!
May your enemies be scattered;
may your foes flee before you.'
Whenever it came to rest,
he said, 'Return, O Lord,
to the countless thousands of Israel."

So when Jesus, years after the cloud of God's glory departed from the temple, and hours after the lamps in the temple had been extinguished, said, "I am the light of the world," He is declaring that He is the cloud. In effect He is saying,

"I am God with you."

2 Corinthians 4:6 says,

"For God, who said,
'Let light shine out of darkness,'
made his light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God
in the face of Christ."

In declaring that He is the light of the world Jesus is also declaring that He is the guide of the world. When the cloud or pillar of fire moved, the people followed. When the cloud stopped, the people stopped until the cloud moved again. The cloud and pillar of fire led the people to the promised land.

R.C. Sproul notes, (John, p. 156)

"Jesus brought illumination and understanding of truth when He came into the world."

If you want to know how to live, look to Jesus and His word. If you want to know what to believe, look to Jesus. He will lead you to glory. He will surely do this.

If you follow the world's advice, if you reject God's commands, it will lead you to destruction. The world is in darkness, in ignorance. To see clearly, go to Jesus.

Jesus being the light of the world also means that He has the power to protect you. The cloud and pillar of fire protected the Israelites. When they were ready to cross the Red Sea and the Egyptians were closing in, the cloud moved between the Egyptians and the Israelites. The Israelites were protected.

In the same way, Jesus, the light of the world, protects His people. If you're in Him, He has you in His hand. In His light you are safe.