In JOHN 8:1-11 Jesus offered compassion and grace to the woman trapped in adultery ... and He responded with truth-speaking and judgment to the Jewish religious leaders who brought her to Jesus and nearly demanded that He join them in stoning her.
Remember JOHN 8 begins the day after the FEAST OF TABERNACLES ended … and Jesus had gone back to the Temple in the morning to teach. And like the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with the woman they caught “in the very act of adultery” – now they’re trying to catch Jesus in another trap. But wisdom is hard to bait.
And just like 2nd Streeter Edie Salmon most effectively displays the beauty and radiance of the gemstones she sells in her jewelry store against a background of black velvet … Jesus knew that the next words He was about to speak, as recorded here in JOHN 8:12, would come most vividly into focus when placed against the backdrop of the blackness and darkness of the story that just preceded it.
JOHN 8:12 (NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)
12 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.”
And as we move into the study of these nineteen verses, I want us to ask ourselves several questions …
- What does it mean that the world is dark, and in need of God’s Light?
- What does it mean that our hearts are dark, and in need of God’s Light?
- What is the purpose of Light?
- What are the benefits of walking in the Light?
The story begins with a college philosophy professor trying to trap a couple of students in his supposed logic. He wanted to show that if God “created evil” then God must “be evil” … and that faith can’t be basis of belief because unlike science it’s non-provable and non-sensory. And when the professor stopped talking in order to watch his bait squirm in the trap, one of the students speaks up and says …
“Professor, is there such a thing as heat?”
“Yes,” the professor replies. “There's heat.”
“And is there such a thing as cold?”
“Yes, son, there's cold too.”
“No sir, there isn't” the student said firmly but politely.
The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested … the classroom becomes very quiet … and the student began to explain.
“Sir, you can have more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but there is no scientific classification of something called ‘cold’.
Every body or object is susceptible to study when it either has or transmits energy. And heat is what makes a body or object have or transmit energy. Absolute zero … or -458 Fahrenheit – is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only the word we made up to describe the absence of heat. Cold isn’t the opposite of heat … it’s just the absence of heat .” And as the student spoke these words, the silence in the classroom deepened.
“What about darkness, professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?” the student continued probing …
“Yes,” the professor replies without hesitation. “What is night if it isn't darkness?”
“Respectfully speaking sir, you're wrong again. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, and flashing light, but if you have no light, you have nothing and it's called darkness. Darkness is merely the word we made up to define, or give meaning to the absence of light. Darkness isn’t something. Like cold is the absence of heat, darkness is simply the absence of something.
“So what point are you making, young man?” the professor asked.
“Sir, my point is that when our philosophical premises are flawed to start with, our conclusions will also be flawed. You argue that there is life and then there is death; a good God and a bad God. You’re viewing the concept of God as something finite, something that you and I as human beings can measure. But to view death as the opposite of life is to ignore the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death isn’t the opposite of life. Death is merely the absence of life.”
The story goes on with their conversation focusing on issues of faith, life, and good and evil … and it ends with the student saying to his professor …
“Evil doesn’t exist sir; or at least it doesn’t exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. Evil, like darkness and cold, is a word we’ve created to describe the absence of God. God didn’t create evil. Evil is simply the result of what happens when we don’t have God's love in our hearts. It's like the cold that comes when there’s no heat … and it’s like the darkness that comes when there’s no light.
Gang, God created the world. And God knew that without His Light it would be dark. This is the truth Jesus Christ is revealing here in v. 12. And as Jesus was sharing this hard teaching, some people made the decision to invite His Light into their darkness, and other people made the decision to stay in the dark. And this is the way it has always been.
But how many of you know that Jesus Christ always speaks the Truth? And when Jesus speaks the Truth to us, even when it hurts, we’re drawn to Him and to the words He shares with us about Himself, about ourselves, and about the world we live in.
And this is why we need to serve Jesus Christ as our Lord, follow Jesus Christ as our shepherd, obey Jesus Christ as our King, sit at Jesus Christ’s feet as our Teacher, and embrace Jesus Christ as the Lover of our Souls. Godspeed.