- Is there something you do or have done that you feel you’ve “gotten away with” without anyone really knowing? How does it impact you?
- In John 8:6-11, Jesus encourages the woman’s accusers to throw the first stone if they are without sin. This act informs everyone that He came to free us and not condemn us. What does this do for your faith?
- In what areas are you tempted to settle for less than God’s intended best for you? Is there something in the “darkness” that promises to fill a need yet continuously leaves you dissatisfied?
Good morning Hope City! How are we doing today? You guys doing well? How many of you have started a diet this new year? Maybe it’s whole 30, or Keto, or Weight Watchers… Or maybe it’s not a diet for you… I see… it’s a life change. I got it. Okay… Well whatever you’re calling it, how many of you have cheated on that diet already?
Oh man, lookout. Here we go! It’s only January 13th, and some of us have already fallen off the diet…. Here’s the real question. Have you told anyone about it before now? I imagine it looked like this… And then you start explaining it all away like this.
My guess is that most diets end up failing because it is too easy to get away with not holding to the plan. You can eat under cover and snack in secret. And we feel pretty good about ourselves when we get away with it, don’t we?
I know that I do! So, this past Summer we were headed home from summer vacation and we were headed south on 1-75 and I’ll tell you I was in the mood to be HOME. You know what I mean? You’ve been in the car for 12 hours already and you just want to be home. I may or may not have been in the left lane because the other two lanes were just going to slow… you know? You understand… And then it happened. Me and my desire to get home FAST and in a HURRY drove right by a police officer. UGH!
You know that feeling… You look over your shoulder. You tap the breaks. Slide over a lane, and try to blend in like… who me? What was I doing. I was just stuck here in the middle lane behind this Michigan license plate with their turn signal on for the last 2 miles. I’m sorry you must have me confused with someone else officer.
But then you know this feeling too… You watch, You watch… you check your side view mirror again, and YES! He didn’t pull out…. NO lights, No Sirens, and No Ticket! Well this is what happened to me. No Ticket, and what do you do next? You slide right back over into the left lane. Did you learn your lesson? NO WAY!
We feel pretty good about ourselves when we get away with it. There is a sense of relief and adrenaline that is released when you don’t get caught.
Remember when your mom would tell you to go clean your room, and what would you do? You’d just rake your entire floor under your bed. Or you stuff everything into your closet. Yeah it looks clean, but it’s not.
Or maybe you’re at work and you’ve been skipping steps in order to save time, or you just don’t feel like doing it, so you start cutting corners, and no one is noticing. You’re getting away with it, right? Or just slipping out the back door 30 minutes early so your boss won’t notice.
Or maybe you let your eyes linger on a beautiful woman or a handsome man and your mind starts thinking thoughts that are meant to be saved for only your spouse. Your normal observations become abnormal preoccupations. But no one knows, right? You feel like you’ve gotten away with it. Isn’t it interesting that WHEN WE GET AWAY WITH A LITTLE, WE START BELIEVING THAT WE CAN GET AWAY WITH IT ALL! A glance, here and there. A conversation, an elongated hug, and then we find ourselves in a place we may never have thought possible.
These are the moments that do more than define us, they stay with us. You may have gotten away with it, but you can’t get away from it. These thoughts and actions live inside of your head. These moments and behaviors are recorded in your brain. What happens is we start to live as two different people, the person that everyone else thinks we are, and the person that we know we are. And the challenge is that we have to live with both of those people, and that is overwhelming!
In our series I AM, we have been taking a look at and will be taking a look at Jesus, not just what Jesus has done, but WHO Jesus IS, our lives will be transformed. We are in the book of John throughout the remainder of this series, and I’d love for you to turn in the book of John to John chapter 8 that’s page 730 in the Bibles around you. If you’re not familiar with the Bible, the Big numbers are chapters, and the little numbers are verses. If you don’t have a bible, or you’re in need of a new one, please take the one that’s on your seat. This is our gift to you! This morning, we are going to take a look at another one of Jesus statements about who HE is and discover more about ourselves and who we are.
There is a group of people Jesus address’ who are in the same spot as many of us. They are living life with everyone thinking they are one person, and yet, they know who they really are.
Let’s look at John 8 verse 12, Jesus just jumps right in and says,
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” [i] John 8:12
Seems like a funny thing to say right? I’m the light of the world…. But here’s what we need to understand. Jesus is currently in Jerusalem in the Temple, the high and holy religious place, and He is teaching. But what is happening culturally around him is a big Jewish celebration called the Feast of the Tabernacle. It was one of the biggest Jewish celebrations and it lasted for 8 days. During this celebration the nation of Israel was celebrating the harvest of that year and thanking God for all that He had done. They would sacrifice animals before the Lord, they would pour water out on an altar as a way of thanking God for the rain that fell, and every night they would light four large menorahs, each with 7 lights, and raise them 50 yards in the sky. The light symbolized what God had done in the past, by leading the Israelites through the wilderness in a pillar of Fire, but it also pointed forward to what God was going to do through the coming messiah. These lights were so bright they were said to have lit up all of Jerusalem. Not everyone was as happy to learn of Jesus’ description of Himself. Look at a group of religious leaders, named the Pharisee’s, response to Jesus.
13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” [ii] John 8:13
The Pharisees are saying… You can’t testify about yourself! Jewish law said that a man’s testimony on his own behalf is not legally admissible evidence. He must have the witness of others. SO what does Jesus say…
14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” [iii] John 8:14-18
The Pharisees were enraged! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE JESUS? You’re saying your Father sent you, and you know where you’re going… what? How dare you say that you are the Light of the World. They’re saying, Who is this Jesus? This very Festival of Tabernacles is what lights Jerusalem… and you want to say that you’re the light of the world? PSH… HOW DARE YOU! Our outward Religious Commitment has lit this night sky… Who Is this guy?
Isn’t it interesting that people are always trying to figure out Jesus is? Even some of you here today are wrestling with that thought, Who is this Jesus?
Jesus makes it very clear what He means when He says that He is the Light of the World. Look back,
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” [iv] John 8:12
Jesus knows something about the humanity. He knows that humanity will always live somewhere in the shadow of who we want to be, who everyone thinks we are, and who we really are. Jesus says, I am the Light of the world. You don’t have to be stuck in the dark anymore.
When I was a kid, we lived in a beautiful older house that didn’t have any overhead lighting. There were no can lights in the ceiling… There was a light switch on the wall, but it operated a plug somewhere in the room… which of course was never where you needed it to be. I can remember having to walk into the room shuffling my feet holding my arms out, so I didn’t bump into anything feeling my way through the dark looking for the lamp. You know what I’m talking about? Stumbling through the darkness hoping to get that light turned on. It was the worst, even if you think you know where things are, in the dark you don’t really know… and then for Christmas one year, I got the clapper. Remember this? CLAP ON… CLAP OFF. The original smart outlet!
There is nothing worse than being stuck in the dark, trying to find your way! In fact, many people list the darkness as one of the main things that they are scared of? Why is that? Because we know what can happen in the dark. And yet, Jesus makes a very clear statement… Look here, WHOEVER FOLLOWS ME will not walk in the dark. In other words, Jesus is saying, LIGHT LEADS YOU, WHILE DARKNESS IMPEDES YOU. Whoever FOLLOWS Jesus will not walk in the dark. Light is leading. It pulls you in. It draws you to itself.
In the beginning of this year, I decided that I wanted to continue to push myself physically and grow healthier and stronger. So, I signed up to do another RUCK event. I’ve shared with you about this before. A RUCK event is carrying a Ruck Sack, or bookbag with 30 lbs on your back and walking for a specific distance. Well this particular event is what they’re calling the Resolution Ruck. In order to complete it, you must RUCK 50 miles in 15 days. The other night I set out after dinner around sunset. Well I was walking by Celery Fields just around the corner from here, and it became quite dark on my way back home. And I don’t know if you know this… but this is an ALIGATOR HABITAT. So I put my headlamp on, and I set it so it would shine just right in front of my feet. I wanted to know where I was going. I was marching myself through the Gator’s kitchen, weighted down with 35 extra pounds on my back. If they could see me, they would have seen a target on my back. J I wasn’t keen on fumbling my way through the dark.
In that same way Jesus is saying, LIGHT LEADS YOU. When you FOLLOW the light, it will lead you away from danger and heartache. But do you know what Darkness does? It hides things. Darkness prevents you, or impedes you from seeing that there’s a laundry basket at the foot of the bed when you get up in the middle of the night. You stub your toe in the darkness. And worse yet, you make decisions in the darkness that you never would in the light. In the cover of darkness, you are tempted to let yourself go to place that you never would in the light. You go places online, you look at things that you shouldn’t, you drink more than you should, you do what you vowed you would never do. Because it’s dark. Do you know what Grows in the dark? Sin. Sin is what you and I do that breaks God’s original design for our lives. Darkness convinces you that sin can be a secret. That you can give in to your temptation. Temptation under the cover of darkness always promises to satisfy a legitimate need in a wrong way, or at a wrong time. The inner desire is itself good, and to want to satisfy it is fine, but how and when makes all the difference. But darkness says, you can have it your way, now! But Light says, it doesn’t have to be that way. We live in a world that needs all the light it can get. Which is why we must follow where the light leads.
Last week we talked about Jesus’ Omniscience-the fact that Jesus being God knows all. He is Omniscient. And so when Jesus says, I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, what Jesus is saying is that WHAT’S DONE IN THE DARK WILL BE BROUGHT TO LIGHT. I know all, and it will come out. If we jump back just a few verses, right before Jesus issued this statement, there was a very troubling interaction that Jesus had with these religious leaders.
3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.[v] John 8:3-6
Here is this woman who was convinced that she could do what she want, and that she wasn’t going to get caught, and then one day, what was done in the dark was brought to light. She was dragged out of the house, and put in front of Jesus. They were trying to see just what Jesus would say, would he break their law by having mercy on her.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” [vi] John 8:6-11
Jesus, being all knowing, sees what is happening here and bends down and just starts writing in the dirt. Wouldn’t you love to know what He was writing? Than he stands up and says, you who are without sin, go ahead. Stone her. And then he goes back to writing.
And can’t you imagine this woman, probably covering herself in a bedsheet, with her eyes closed, hoping that the first stone would just knock her out so she wouldn’t have to endure the pain… All she hears is THUD… THUD… THUD… as these men dropped their rocks. The older men left first scripture says… See, Age tempers men. Older men have a portfolio of failures, while young men believe that they are experts. And then Jesus looks into this lady’s eyes and doesn’t give her a pass and say, do what you want. He says, GO AND SIN NO MORE.
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD wasn’t there to shame her. But rather release her from the chains of sin. The light EXPOSED her sin, but Christ’s love allowed her to EXPERIENCE Freedom & GRACE! Isn’t it strange how easy it is for us to focus on the darkness around us, so much so that we miss out on the darkness that is in us?
Several years ago, as you know I worked at a church in NJ as a Campus Pastor. It was a large church, we had 5 campus’ and it was growing rapidly. I was the youngest campus pastor in the bunch. I reported to a guy that sat on the Lead team, which consisted of 4 people. And I’ll tell you what, I would complain and get frustrated by this lead team. Decisions were made that I didn’t agree with or understand. I was critical of our lead pastor… I was critical of my boss, I felt like I knew best. And not only did I feel this way, but I believed that I was right. I was trying to outshine the leadership structure in my church, those men whom God had put me under authority. It wasn’t until I started Hope City Church until I started to get a glimpse of the leadership decisions that are required at that level. I never understood the pressure that those men were under, the spiritual authority that they carried, and the weight that they carried.
I was sick with who I was. Founding Hope City Church revealed my own PRIDE and ARROGANCE in a way that I had not known till that moment. I started to understand the weight of leading a church, the emotional toil of being sensitive to God’s spirit and resolute with God’s vision. It’s been said, that a Church Planter must have thick skin and a soft heart. It was obvious to me that I was just thick headed. I had to confess my sin, the sin of PRIDE and ARROGANCE to these four men and apologize and ask for their forgiveness.
Some of you are able to spot the darkness around you, easier than you can spot the darkness in you. I know this, because it is true of me.
But, thank God, that we aren’t left to just sit in our darkness, and our shame… Look at what Jesus says one more time.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” [vii] John 8:12
When we follow the light of the world, when we follow Jesus, we no longer have to walk in darkness, but we will have the light of life Jesus says.
In other words, LIGHT REVEALS OUR HOPE AND BRINGS US TO LIFE. When Jesus says that He is the light of the world, He is in no uncertain terms saying, listen up, I am the HOPE of the WORLD! Why? Because I HAVE DEFEATED DARKNESS. Think about one of the principles of light. It overcomes darkness. There is no amount of darkness that can ever overcome even the smallest birthday candle, the smallest amount of light. Even the smallest amount of hope cannot be squelched by darkness. What happens when you open a door to your house at night? Light comes pouring out, darkness doesn’t invade your home.
It’s quite the opposite! The HOPE we have in the midst of the darkness is found in the LIGHT- Jesus Christ! And this light, leads us to life. True life. Life that doesn’t let us down, or wanting more.
Tom Brady, one of the winningest Quarterbacks of all time, 5 superbowl victories all with the same team. Is very clearly one of the most amazing men that has ever played the sport, you would think is living the life! He’s living the American dream. He’s made himself into an empire. People from all over the world chant his name. They fill a stadium that one day will have his statue out front in memorial to this incredible athlete. What more could this guy want? I want you to watch an interview from several years ago that Tom did with 60 minutes, He only had 3 superbowl rings at the time, but listen in on what Tom Brady has to say…
BRADY INTERVIEW VIDEO
There has to be more to it than this! Can you imagine? He goes home to his Victoria Secret Super Model wife, his trophy’s, his financial portfolio, and he says, there has to be more than this…
Jesus promises Tom Brady, and You and I more than just a life of trophies, money, and superbowl rings. Jesus says, that when we follow Him, that we will have the light of life!
We’re reminded that A LITTLE BIT OF LIGHT, BRINGS A LOT OF HOPE! The light of the world exposes sin and makes it possible for you and me to experience freedom! We no longer have to be chained to our temptations, our lust, our secret life. We can be made one in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 1:13-14 says,
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. [viii]
You may feel trapped in Darkness. You may feel broken this morning, too broken to even talk about. You may have a secret life that no one knows about. And you’re saying, Peter it is true, 2 lives are two much for me to keep up with. I want to plead with you… STOP TRYING. Follow Jesus, because He is the LIGHT OF THE WORLD. He will bring light into your life that will Free you and allow you to Experience Forgiveness and Grace.
Maybe you have a secret that is growing in the dark. Maybe you have been messing around with PORN and allowing looking at images that are messing around with you head. That are promising you satisfaction and leaving you feeling empty inside. God has intended sex and your sexuality to be more meaningful than that, more satisfying than that.
Maybe your overcome by materialism. You have a desire for more THINGS. It seems like you can never quite have enough, or the things that you have no longer are satisfying, and you get on a never ending cycle of spending. You have made your world so small that it all revolves around you.
Or maybe you are living with ANGER, or UNFORGIVENESS. Can I tell you that I lived my life as an ANGRY man for many years… That is a dark place to be. Holding on to a grudge, and being unwilling to forgive takes more work and energy than forgiving ever will. It feels trapping, and dark, like there is no way out.
If that is you this morning, if you feel trapped by darkness, you may be tempted to believe that you are shameful, that you are unlovable, and you experience doubt that God even cares about you anymore. Let me remind you that a little bit of light brings a lot of hope. The light of the world, Jesus, doesn’t remind you of your past, he reminds you of who you could be. He reminds you of who God has made you to be. Jesus says, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” The devil is the one that reminds you of your sin, He chains you to your sin. The Bible calls Satan the Accuser. His goal is to get you so wrapped up in your sin and shame that you don’t even try anymore.
So if a little bit of light brings a lot of Hope, let me ask you, would you let that light in?
This morning, you may have sin that you need to confess. Confession is not between me and you. We aren’t going to go into a booth somewhere around here and you tell me all of your sins. Confession is between you and God. You may need to confess something to another person as I did. Confession is not easy, but it moves from secrecy to openness. It moves from darkness to light.
Every person in here, I want to encourage you to jump in and take a STEP every day. Get in God’s word. Here at Hope City we are serious about helping you take your next steps in your Journey of Faith, and in 2019 we have designed a Bible Reading plan to help you read God’s word. Psalm 119:105 says,
105Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. [ix] Psalm 119:105
And you will never need to walk in the dark alone again.