Jesus the Light of the World
Today we are looking at John chapter 9 and two things come to mind as we are reading this beautiful account of Jesus giving sight to a man born blind:
“Light and darkness”
But how could we describe them from personal experience?
As I was thinking of this, I remembered a dear friend of mine and her story of what she went through in the 2010 earthquake in Chile.
She was with her 5 children in a resort town on the chilean coast. They were all sleeping in their apartment when suddenly a violent shaking woke them up. Because of the intensity of the earthquake they were struggling to walk their way out of the apartment, everything was falling apart.
Then, something else happened that made things worst. The power lines went off and everything became pitch dark. My friend could manage to get out of the apartment before this happened but got caught in the emergency stairs trying to get out of the building. Everything turned into darkness. She couldnÊ¼t even see her own hand. She couldnÊ¼t see if all of her children were with her. She didnÊ¼t know if they all managed to get out of the apartment too and she was not able to go back to look for them, neither to continue her way down
She described those moments to me as being in total despair,impotence,helplessness and great fear. If only she could see to take all of her children and lead them out of that chaos. Light would have made a big difference in that moment for her in spite of the fear she already had from the earthquake. I think we can all agree on that, but what does the Bible say about the difference that light can make in the darkness?
Well letÊ¼s have a look at John chapter 9
Our outline for today is: -Jesus the light of the world -The light of the world in action -The light brings judgement
So letÊ¼s begin with our ï¬rst point: Jesus the light of the world.
We start our passage with Jesus and his disciples passing along and seeing a man blind from birth. The disciples then asked: “Rabi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” There was a common belief at that time that suffering was a direct result from personal sin or sin that was passed on from previous generations.
We recall Jesus saying in John 5:14 to the invalid man he healed: “See,you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you”
Although is clear that sin has devastating consecuences and Jesus doesnÊ¼t deny that fact,he clearly states that it is not the case with this manÊ¼s congenital blindness: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” This shows us that God has a bigger purpose for this manÊ¼s condition,it is not because God is punishing this man but because he is going to use his life for his glory. How amazing to think about that when we or other people are going through deep suffering, not as a result of sin of course. God has a purpose as well, like in this manÊ¼s life for showing his love,mercy and power.
But how is God going to show his work?
Jesus states in verses 4 and 5, “as long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world I am the light of the world”, referring to himself as the one God sent to show his work in the world, so it is through Jesus that God is showing his works. “The night is coming when no one can work”, pointing to the fact that there will be a time when his earthly role will be ï¬nished, so now is the time to do the work. “While I am in the world,I am the light of the world” Jesus said, But how is Jesus the light of the world?
The Bible makes a contrast between light and darkness starting from creation in the book of Genesis: “And God said: “Let there be light”, and there was light, God saw that the light was good, and separated the light from the darkness” (Gen 1:3-4) so we see a clear separation of the two of them since the beggining, providing a picture for us to show the difference between them and the impossibility of the two to be put together; naturally one has to exclude the other in order to be present, either is one or the other.
In the Old testament we see references to the light as the knowledge of the truth about God and the Holiness that is found in him. In John 5:1, we see that “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all”
To understand this better, we have to take a look at what darkness is. In the Bible we see darkness representing a state of rebellion against God and failure to recognize it. In Proverbs 4:19 we read: “The way of the wicked is like deep darkness: they do not know over what they stumble” This having the opposite effect that light has, instead of having the knowledge of the thruth about God, we human beings supress the truth about him in order to continue in our rebellion against him and exchange that truth for a lie as Paul writtes in the book of Romans, making our own gods or idea of god and our own set of moral standarts that are far lower than GodÊ¼s. As a result of this, instead of representing the holiness of God that is found in his light, we human beings end up being ï¬lled with every kind of evil,greed,envy,arrogance, pride,revenge,anger and the list goes on and on....... This is true for all of us according to GodÊ¼s word, that is why Paul says in Romans: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Do we recognize this in our own lives? or do we ï¬nd it easier to see these things in other peopleÊ¼s lives but not our own?
The Bible clearly says that because of these things we are under the just condemnation from a Holy God, light and darkness cannot be put together, so for the ones who choose to remain in darkness there is only an expectation of punishment and dead. This is not a pretty picture.
So what about Jesus then? Coming back to our question about him revealing himself as “Light of the world”, what does that mean?
Well, that means he is the only hope for us and for the world. It was prophecied about him in Isaiah 9:2 “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light and those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined”
Jesus came so we donÊ¼t have to stay in this darkness and so face eternal punishment and death.
He says in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”
In him we see the truth about God, he came to show us the father.
Jesus has the knowledge of the truth abouth God and also his holiness, and he came to this world to live the perfect life so we could see the glory of God in him. But we all have rejected him because of our rebellion against God, he was cruciï¬ed and died the dead of a criminal that he didnÊ¼t deserved, only we deserved it. He died in our place in a rescue mission to save us from darkness and bring us to GodÊ¼s light and this light leads to eternal life with him.
However, is not enough to just recognize Jesus as the light and the image of the glory of God because he also said: “whoever follows me will not walk in darkness” so genuine faith in him involves complete submission to Christ and obedience so we wonÊ¼t continue in our rebellion and sin against God. That is why ongoing repentance is necesary if we want to follow him.
His promise is far better that any pleasure we could get from any sin: Eternal life with God, the source of light!. We will have “the light of life” Jesus promises for anyone who believes and follows him.
What do you make of this if you didnÊ¼t know Christ in this way before?
If you know him and believe in him, are you following him as the light?
Well, lets take a look at our second point: “The light of the world in action” and have a better understanding of this as we see Jesus performing an amazing miracle.
We read in our passage that after Jesus declared himself to be “The light of the world”, he spat on the ground and made some mud to put it on the blind manÊ¼s eyes. He told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam and so he did as he was told, he went and washed and came home seeing.
We are told that his man was a begger. Probably because of his congenital blindness he was not accepted by society and became and outcast. He was considered to be unclean and full of sin.
The people who used to see him beg were astonished when they realized he was seeing and they couldnÊ¼t believe that he was that same man. They asked him how did this happened and as far as he knows a man called Jesus was the one who did it. Little did the man knew at this point about Jesus.
Because of the magnitude of the miracle the people found it hard to believe, how could this be possibe? a man born blind now sees! this only could come from God. So they brought the man to the pharisees, the ultimate authority in the matters about God. They were the experts on the law of God and were totally devoted to follow all of it. So they were the right people to go to.
But there was a little problem with this miracle, it was performed on a sabbath day and it involved the making of mud, so what does the law said about that? in (Exodus 20:8-10a) we read:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work” it seemed that making mud involved work with the hands, at least on the minds of the pharisees this was the case, according to their own interpretation of the law and also their deep down desire to ï¬nd any excuse to discredit Jesus as the Messiah.
So when they learned about this their opinions were divided: some said: “this man is not from God for he does not keep the sabbath” so in other words, he is a sinner, so there is no way he can come from God. But others were not so sure about that: “how can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” they asked.
They couldnÊ¼t sort this out between themselves and so they asked the blind man what he thought, at the end of the day it was on him on whom the miracle was performed. He gives probably an unexpected answer to them:
“He is a prophet” the man says; very different from what he had said before “a man called Jesus” So it seemed his perception of Jesus was changing. Not only his eyes were open and he was able to see again, but also he was starting to see something else that didnÊ¼t involved his physical sight.
So we have seen this happening before in this gospel, people acknowledging Jesus as a prophet, but is that enough? Well,even if it is just an aspect of who Jesus is, but not the whole truth about him, it was enough to keep upsetting the pharisees, who wanted Jesus to be seen as a sinner, “ Give glory to God, they say to the man in verse 24, we know that this man is a sinner”
They even acussed Jesus of being demon possesed in one ocassion, but they were not getting the answer they wanted this time. They even insisted with the manÊ¼s parents and kept on insisting with the man with no success.
The man answers the pharisees with the famous phrase: “One thing I do know, that though I was blind now I see” So itÊ¼s not only that he recognizes Jesus as a prophet but also he speaks from his personal experience with him, he is becoming a witness. And not just that, he also proves to have a better understanding about God at this point than that of the pharisees in saying: “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing”
This man knew very well that only the prayer of a righteous man could be answered in this way according to Old testament scripture.
In Proverbs 15:29 we read: “The Lord is far from the wicked,but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”
This begger is showing to have more wisdom than the pharisees! he even challenges them when they say to him in verse 29, “We know that God has spoken to Moses,but as for this man,we do not know where he comes from” and so the man responds: “Why, this is an amazing thing! you do not know where he comes from and yet he opened my eyes.”
A begger proved to have more wisdom than the teachers of the law, this of course made them furious and they threw him out of the place pointing to the fact that he was born in sin since birth to discredit him as a reliable witness to this case.
Then the most amazing thing happened, Jesus comes to him again with a simple question: “Do you believe in the Son of man?” and he says: “who is he sir, that I may believe in him? “Jesus then says: “You have seen him and it is him who is speaking to you” What an amazing revelation of himself and what a response from the man: “Lord, I believe” and he worshiped him. The man was more than ready to receive Jesus as his Lord and savior and Jesus opened his eyes and also his heart to see the spiritual truth about him and believe. His life was totally transformed. Praise God for that!
We read in Psalm 18:28 “For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness” What a joy for this man to have experienced this and recognize Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he passed from darkness to light, from death to life and all this because of Jesus, he is truly the light of the world.
And that brings us to our third and last point, the light brings judgment: We see in verse 39 that after this Jesus said: “For judgment I have come into this world,so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” This shows that the coming of the light has a twofold effect: it brings salvation to those who are blind and also brings judgement for those who will not come to the light. We know that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, the Bible continually tells us that Jesus came to save sinners in a fallen world.
But how then he also brings judgment?
Jesus explains this in verse 41 after the pharisees asked: “Are we blind too?” Jesus then said: “If you were blind,you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” pointing to their unwillingness to recognize their state of spiritual blindness, “they think they can see” basically they think they are ok, they feel righteous because they have the knowledge of GodÊ¼s law and they follow it perfectly well as far as they know. But was that really the case?
Well, we see Jesus telling them in John 7 that none of them really keeps the law and also in Mathew 23 Jesus tells his disciples not to imitate the teachers of the law because they do not practice what they teach. Jesus calls them hypocrites, they do everything just to look good infront of people but not to please God, they gave the appearance of being righteous but inside they were full of greed and self indulgence, Jesus calls them blind guides.
Because of their blindness to their own sin they feel superior to other people and lack compassion, mercy and love for them. The love of God is not in their hearts because they love themselves more and this makes them unable to come to the light. That is why they reject Jesus and are very offended by his teaching. They wonÊ¼t come to the light and so their guilt remains, there is no repentance in their hearts so they cannot receive forgiveness from God.
What is left then for them?: darkness, and that means they will face judgement and not just them but everybody else who rejects Jesus as the light. This is how God will judge the world through Jesus Christ. So the light brings salvation for those who embrace it and judgement for those who reject it. Have we experience this light in our lives?
Coming back to my friendÊ¼s story of her frightening experience in the 2010 earthquake, after being in a state of despair and impotence because of the darkness sourrounding her at the emergency stairs, she did something that to this day amaze me. She had been raised in a Catholic home and Chile is mainly a Catholic country, so she knew enough about God but when she became older she started to feel more and more disapointment about the Catholic church in Chile, so she and her husband became some sort of agnostics or atheists even. For the time I had known them, I never heard them mentioning God. So I was not expecting what she was about to tell me when she said to me that at those moments when she thought that they were all going to die and she was giving up, she cryied out to God for help, then suddenly she regained her strenght and her mind, and still without being able to see anything told her children to sit down and keep going down the stairs in this way. It became much easier because the ground was still moving and without being able to see they were falling all over the place before,but in this way they could go down the emergency stairs and get out of the building safely. They went out into the light but for my friend it was much more than that, she experienced another kind of light that changed her live forever,the awareness of the presence and the mercy of God.
The Bible tells us that Jesus is the only one who can take us out of the spiritual darkness that all of us experience in our lives. We are spiritually dead because of our many sins, but we can be made alive to God through faith in Jesus Christ and enjoy the life he offers us, eternal life with God. Jesus calls everyone to repent and believe in him as Lord and savior, and there are only two ways to respond to that: like the blind man, in humility and childlike faith or like the pharisees, unable to accept their need of Jesus and his Lordship over them because of their pride. The way we respond will make a difference for the rest of our lives unto eternity.
For the ones that have believed in Jesus, there are some lessons to be learned from this passage: We should always be in our guard against being like the pharisees in the following ways:
Failing to see our own sin and becoming proud because we are not continually repenting of it. -Being overly concern about people recognizing our work in the church or our help in other areas, feeling no motivation to do these things if we donÊ¼t receive proper credit for it. -Knowing the word of God and studying it but not living by it. -Not being mindful of how we treat other people because at the end of the day that will give evidence that we are true followers of Christ and we will be judged according to this on the last day.
That is why Jesus said: “Beware of the yeast of the pharisees”
LetÊ¼s be like the blind man, who had no problem acknowledging his sinful condition and his need of Christ, he even became a witness to the pharisees, even though he knew this will cause more problems to him. Jesus used the blind man to display the works of God. LetÊ¼s be humble and willing to listen to Christ and learn from him so we wonÊ¼t be blinded to the truth and like the blind man we will be able to say: “Lord, I believe” and display the works of God in our lives.
We should reï¬‚ect the light of Christ for others to see, because Jesus said:
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven” (Mt 5:16)