JOHN 8:12 (part one)
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 8:12a (Holman) Then Jesus spoke to them again: AI am the light of the world.@
Jesus is the light of the world, and must be received as such. Every form of grace by which Jesus reveals Himself must be met by a corresponding response from people.
Every promise of God has its condition. In our text, light is the promise, following is the condition.
We often discuss, and sing songs about, following Jesus, but what does it mean to follow Jesus? At least four things. First, following Jesus entails trust.
Jesus can be light only to those who receive Him as the Light, and who follow Him with complete trust. We don=t follow guides we don=t trust. A sinner=s first response to Jesus must be willingness to trust Him totally.
ATo follow@ implies accepting counsel from a wise teacher. When in doubt, we like to consult an expert we trust. We want their input.
For Christians, Jesus is the Expert, our Counselor, Advisor, and Teacher. We determine our conduct by His counsel.
We trust Him totally, knowing He never leads us astray. We have learned the hard way, when we trust something or someone else, we taste disaster.
A Christian is not lackadaisical about learning from Christ. We do not let His message go in one ear and out the other.
His words mean life to us. We study them, absorb them, love them. AI have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You@ (Psalm 119:11).
Second, following Jesus entails patience. If Jesus is to be our guide, we must slow down. Many of us do not wait for Him, but insist on running faster than He leads.
Then we wonder why no light falls on our path. We stumble often, complain, and grow discouraged. Don=t tread on His heels as if we know every move He wants us to make.
Many dilemmas are beyond our human ability to resolve. If we try to solve them on our own, mistakes are inevitable. We will trip and blunder.
We need heavenly wisdom to walk the earthly way aright. Only God has a secure map of life. If we stay back with God=s lantern, our journey will be okay.
We are too impatient, wanting to know before we start how we will finish. This is not God=s way for us.
He alone knows the end from the beginning. God=s Word is not a sun flooding the hemisphere, but Aa lamp for my feet and a light on my path@ (Psalm 119:105).
In the darkest night, Jesus will show us the next step. When we have taken that step, He will show us another.
If our sole desire is to know God=s will, we will seldom find it impossible to discern. When in doubt about His will, it is best to sit still, wait, and watch.
Third, following Jesus entails obedience. ATo follow@ was used of a soldier following his commander, rendering unquestioned obedience to his superior.
ATo follow@ was used of a slave serving his master. Anywhere and everywhere, the slave was at the master=s beck and call. As Christians our joy must be to serve Christ anytime and anywhere.
ATo follow@ is used of obeying the laws of a government. For any society to live peacefully, its citizens must agree to obey its laws. Christians, as citizens of God=s Kingdom, agree to govern their life by the laws of Christ, the King of the Kingdom.
Since Jesus is our Light, our duty is to submit ourselves to His leadership. In everything we are to take our directions, our marching orders, from Him.
Many difficulties are cleared out of our road by simply determining to follow Christ in total obedience. A large number of problems vanish once we honestly set ourselves to the task of following God wherever He leads. A reluctant will, selfish likings and dislikings, obscure our path.
To follow Jesus means to give ourselves Abody and soul@ in obedience to the Master. When we do this, there will be light for our path.
Fourth, to follow Jesus entails progress. Following implies moving forward. It is not enough to look at light. It is not given for self-absorbed contemplation.
We must believe the light, follow it, walk in it. It is light to our feet, as well as to our eyes, given for action, movement, progress. We must see ourselves on a never ending pilgrimage to be more like Jesus.
We prove we are walking with God by walking toward God. All who take one step, and another step, and still stand where they were, have not walked, but stayed in place.
Many Christians do the goose-step. They are still where they used to be, and almost congratulate themselves for not backsliding.
Being content with our spiritual condition causes spiritual lethargy. Our desire must ever be for more of God. The holiest people are the ones most conscious of their sinfulness. They ever strive for a closer walk with God.
Never be totally satisfied. An indispensable part of true professionalism and accomplishment is an unending striving toward an unattained ideal of beauty and perfection.
A writer satisfied with his lines is not a poet. A painter satisfied with her work will never be an artist. The young pianist who never strives for more perfection will never play as well as Ruth Ellen does.
People content with their own spiritual condition may have a mechanical regularity of habit, and be respectable Pharisees. But they lack an essential ingredient for Godliness.
Paul said, AI pursue as my goal the prize promised by God=s heavenly call in Christ Jesus@ (Philippians 3:14). He never quit striving for more. We must never also, if we are to be counted true followers of Christ.
John 8:12b AAnyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.@
What shall we avoid if we faithfully follow Jesus? We shall not walk in darkness, which is the absence and opposite of light.
Apart from Christ are many darknesses: ignorance, impurity, sorrow. These combine to create a thickening gloom which leads to the darkness of death.
By nature, people know nothing of God, themselves, Heaven, Hell, holiness, etc. They need God=s light to be shined on them.
Christ-followers have this light. When we find it, we realize we possess a treasure we never had before. Light has entered believers, and can enter unbelievers.
He who follows Jesus Awill never walk in the darkness.@ The phrase, emphatic in the Greek, fuses together an adverb of negation and a particle of negation to increase the force an impossibility B not at all, by no means, not not, never no never walk in the darkness. Possibility is excluded from consideration.
Believers make false steps when they seek other guides, whether in their own thoughts or in the counsel of others. All who seek to follow the true Light B to follow, not precede it, to follow always, not only when it coincides with our will; to follow patiently and trustfully, step by step, wherever it leads B cannotADVANCE \l0ADVANCE \d0 walk in darkness, for they are never without the presence of the Light.