Online Worship for Epiphany Five, Sunday February 5, 2023
ermon for Epiphany Five – 2,8,15 - Sunday February 5, 2023
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
The Grace, mercy and peace of God are yours…a gift planned in eternity by the Father, carried out in time by the Son and made your possession by the Spirit. To God alone the Glory! Amen.
John 8:12 (ESV)
12 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.”
In the Name of Jesus,
The Light of the World,
Dear Fellow Redeemed –
There are often Events that change the course of history for earthly nations…and when their importance is recognized they are celebrated. We Americans look back on the events that took place in the late 1700’s leading up to the Declaration of Independence. We look back on these historical events and each year we celebrate Independence Day.
If there was one event that changed the course of history for Israel…it was the Exodus from Egypt. God had blessed the sons of Jacob by delivering them from famine and into a land of prosperity through one of their own, Joseph. But when the nation of Egypt enslaved the Israelites, they cried out to the LORD and He made plans to deliver them.
God began by choosing Moses, who had once been an adopted son of Pharaoh, to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. God enlisted Moses at the Burning Bush (Exodus 3) calling Him and revealing His Name (Exodus 3:13-14, ESV):
13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”
The Great “I AM”, Yahweh, led the family of Israel out of Egypt by means of signs and wonders. The LORD, Yahweh, opened the Red Sea before them and fed them with bread from heaven.
The LORD, Yahweh, bore witness to His presence among them during the day by a Pillar of Cloud and by night by a pillar of fire. The LIGHT that shown out in the darkness; it was a visible reminder of the presence of the LORD among His People.
After 40 years in the wilderness, the LORD, Yahweh prepared to fulfill His Promise and give them the Promised Land. Then, lest they forget their history, the LORD, Yahweh, commanded that they observe three great festivals: The Passover, The Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of the Tabernacles. Each of these festivals, in different ways, reminded the Israelites of God’s great deliverance from Egypt.
The Feast of Tabernacles was the last of the 3 Great Festivals. It celebrated the gathering of the harvest and commemorated God’s provision in the Promised Land, a land said to flow with milk and honey.
The Feast of Tabernacles also reminded the Israelites of the Exodus for during the week-long celebration, God commanded them to move out of their houses and dwell in tents, saying (Leviticus 23:42-43, ESV):
42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
It was almost like a recreation of their time in the Wilderness. On the first day of the celebration it was customary to light four large candelabra on the Temple Mount. It is said that the light of those four great lights illuminated the entire city…like the pillar of fire once cast its light on the camp of the Israelites. It also reminded the people of God’s Promise to send the Messiah, the Light to shine in the darkness, to deliver His People.
What does this have to do with us?”
It was during the Feast of the Tabernacles…perhaps within sight of those four great candelabra that the Lord Jesus, the Christ said:
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
This morning we seek to learn what Jesus meant when He called Himself – “The Light of the World.” Furthermore, we want to understand what it means to follow Him and have the light of life. If we are to learn these things it is necessary that the Holy Spirit put away our natural blindness and enlighten and teach us. Since this is our earnest desire, we pray: “Sanctify us by Your Truth, O Lord, Your Word is Truth.” Amen.
In time past we have on numerous occasions talked about ‘interpreting’ or ‘understanding’ God’s Word. When we interpret anything we read, we try to understand what the author meant when he wrote to his original readers. We want to understand the context, that is, how the words ‘fit into’ the letter. There are two things that can make it difficult to understand God’s Word, the language gap (Greek and Hebrew) and the culture gap.
What does that have to do with us, here this morning?
When we hear “I AM” we don’t think – “Hey, that’s the name of God revealed at the burning bush!”; we wonder when the rest of sentence is coming. But when the God of the Bible revealed His personal name to Moses from the burning bush, he said his name is “I AM.” The name “Yahweh” means, “I AM” and when it’s used in our bibles it’s usually translated in capital letters – LORD.
When the people of Jerusalem heard Jesus say (John 8:58, ESV):
“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
They understood Jesus to be saying, “I am the I AM, that is, I am Yahweh God.” When Jesus says, “I am the Bread of Life” and “I am the Light of the World” he is using the same “I AM” designation. Jesus is telling us that He’s God and then further describing His attributes or qualities to us.
Jesus said: “I am the light of the world” on two different occasions.
This is the first time that the Savior said it, while speaking to a crowd in the Temple of the LORD during the Feast of the Tabernacles. The second time Jesus spoke to His disciples just before he healed a man born blind, a man who couldn’t see where he was or where he was going.
When Jesus says, “I AM the light of the World” – He is speaking emphatically. He’s saying that He alone is the Light of the World, there is no other Light.
Light reveals itself and those things hidden by darkness. Headlights, Houselights and Flashlights all serve to reveal what the darkness hides. Headlights show where the road begins and ends and if a person or animal is lurking. Houselights and flashlights show us where to go, they enable us to walk about in the darkness without running into or tripping over things.
Jesus is the Great “I AM” who knows all things. He, through His Word, enlightens us, He reveals to us what is good and what is evil; what is pleasing to God and what is not. When we compare what Christ says to any object or subject, it reveals whether it is true or false, good or evil.
But if we didn’t have Christ’s Word then we would have to accept any word as valid as another.
Think of it like this – the man born blind was literally unable to see unto Jesus, the Son of God, gave him sight. He would have remained forever blind, without Christ. Jesus spit on the ground and took the mud made with His saliva and anointing the blind man’s eyes enabled him to see. Who would believe such a thing? We do, because the most amazing thing has happened we have heard Christ’s Word and have been made alive through it, enabled to see and to know things that the rest of our world considers mysteries!
We know where this world came from…and what happened to make it imperfect. We know why death is a part of this world. We confess that we have sinned and recognize that there is a part of us -- our corrupt nature – that wants to continue to sin. We have come to know that we cannot save ourselves…yet rejoice to know that God sent His Son to deliver us from our sin and guilt and the consequence of our sin – eternal death. We know that Christ rose from the dead the third day to assure us that our sins are forgiven and that we too will rise from death.
We are children of Light because of Christ, the Light of the World. There is no other way – than Christ and His Word – that human beings can see the truth about themselves and their future.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
When the people of Israel lived in tents in the wilderness, they followed a pillar of cloud and fire. When they had questions about how they should live and where they should go…they sought guidance of the LORD, Yahweh. Yet, even they turned from Him to sin…they turned onto paths of darkness...
We seek to follow Jesus, the Light of the World. We believe His Word and seek to live in and according to it – not because we are good – but because He has sent His Spirit to enlighten our hearts and make us His own.
When we follow Jesus…we don’t find ourselves in darkness…we don’t frequent places where we would be tempted to sin. He never leads us into temptation. We are tempted to sin when we turn from Him and follow our own fleshly desires. Christ’s way never leads to ignorance, infidelity and sin…but to truth, faithfulness and forgiveness.
I’m not saying that those who follow Christ are perfect little angels. We do fall into sin, but when we do we don’t justify it but are humbled and confessing our sins, seek and find forgiveness in Jesus’ shed blood.
When our faith in Christ is kept strong through His Word, we see evidence of His love in our lives. Think of it like this -- A plant kept in the dark will die; but the same plant placed in the sunlight will grow and thrive and show all the evidence of life.
The longer we cling to Jesus by faith and walk in His Word…the more we see evidence of His loving care in our lives. The more we search His Word, the more we are enabled to distinguish truth from error, good from evil. We learn more and more to rejoice in Him, to boast in His life and death, and to long for the day of His Return.
Do you find increasing darkness in your life?
Are you unsure about a decision in your life? Are you conflicted about a path your life has taken…which seems to be leading you away from Christ? Seek the LORD in prayer, return to His Word, and make what He values your value in life…and you’ll find the answer is simpler than you thought.
Have you noticed increasing darkness in your life? Do you find yourself frequenting places or gathering with people that don’t share your faith in Christ? Do you find it easy to do what God’s Word and your conscience tells you is evil…then seek Christ in prayer, confess your sins, return to His Word and you will find you have no time for darkness.
Finally, even when we must walk the valley of the shadow of death…we will not fear because we know Christ is our companion whose glorious resurrection from the dead has sealed our redemption, and proves that He has defeated death and made life and immortality our future inheritance.
“I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light. Look unto me; thy morn shall rise and all thy day be bright.” I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my star, my sun; and in that light of Life I’ll walk, til traveling days are done.” (TLH 277:3) Amen.