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.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father] who sent me. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” John 8:12-18 ESV
Today’s word makes me tremble. The problem Jesus had in His ministry was found in the ‘church’. The religious community opposed Jesus throughout His life and ministry until His death on the cross. The people who ought to have welcomed Jesus, nurtured and supported Him were those who opposed Him. The Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes and priests opposed Him. They attended His meetings and watched His healings with ulterior motives in order to criticise and find fault with Him and resist Him. They tried to disrupt His ministry by asking Him questions to trap Him, find reasons to accuse Him and find Him guilty. Why did the religious people have such a problem with Him then and still today?
Just before this passage, a group of religious people ganged up against Jesus by bringing someone to Him who had been caught red handed in adultery. They did not do it in order to find out what to do in this case but to trap Him. They knew what the Law of Moses said but their aim was to bring Jesus into loggerheads with the Law. Why did they ask Jesus the question if they already knew the answer?
A person may have a problem and already have a solution to it but he goes to others to hear what they say and only accepts those who agree with him. Jesus was zealously at work in His ministry, saving and helping people and when the crowds gathered around him, the religious people did not like it.
Today’s passage begins with, Again Jesus spoke to them, saying… – this was an ongoing conversation – “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus introduces Himself so that the people would understand clearly and know who He was. He clarified His purpose, His goal and the reason for His coming. He wanted to be known as the light. “I am the light of the world.”
Friends, Jesus is the light and there is no other light. Without Him there is no light. This light is for the whole world, not a single person, nation or race group. No one is excluded. Jesus came to lighten the world – every single person. In 1 John 1:5 the disciples passed on the light which they had received and spread it to others. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. All of us need to experience this light and identify with it. The light that Jesus is, is the light of life and it brings about life. If you have this light you will have life. The light of Jesus should be evident in your life. Everyone should see that you have met with this light and it has changed you. The character of Jesus should be seen in His followers, wherever they are and whatever they are busy with. Your words and what you speak about should be filled with the light that is in Jesus. Your conduct, your speech and behaviour should change when Jesus enters with His light.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” This is crystal clear and easy to understand. There is no darkness found in the person who walks in the light. The one who has been set free by the Son of man will be free indeed. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness. He has parted from darkness, sin and sinful friends and he lives differently. If you walk in the light, you no longer have fellowship with darkness. How can children of God wallow in the mud of sin? Have can you experience the wonder of entering the light and being cleansed and then return to the mud of sin? How is this possible? The one who follows Jesus does not walk in darkness. If you are walking in the light and you meet up with your old friends, there should be nothing in common. When you talk to them, the language spoken and the topics spoken about should be foreign to you. It is not enjoyable to be in their company and they do not enjoy being with you because they flee from the light which is in you and you cannot endure the darkness which is in them. Jesus separated light and darkness. Are your friends those who love Jesus or are they those who love darkness?
19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. John 3:19 ESV
Jesus came to His own but they were not happy with His truth and His light. The one who loves darkness will hate the light. You may not be making spiritual progress because you have a foot in both camps – the Lord Jesus and the world. That which belongs to the light brings life, everything else brings about spiritual and physical death. Without this light there is only darkness. Jesus came to His own but they did not accept Him because they loved the darkness. The one who walks in the light loves to come to the light and shows that what he does belongs to the light. Such a person does not mind what anyone says about him because it brings about life and brings him closer to the life of Jesus. But the one who has not met with this light speaks in this way: “I see how things are going wrong and people are doing things that do not please God but you won’t find me helping them. If I speak to them they will hate me and kill me. I am afraid to expose the evil of their lives. I cannot expose what they are doing because they are my relatives and they will never speak to me again, they will hate me”. So in order to keep the peace, you remain silent. You just watch your life and do not interfere with other people’s business in order not to get hurt. Many live like this. People do not want to expose the evil other Christians are involved in. They are walking in darkness. If you walk in the light, the works of darkness are exposed. Do not speak about a person behind his back but rather confront and correct the person as the Bible says. If the person does not accept correction, take a second person along. If the two of you cannot help him, bring the person before the church. But instead, you choose to keep quiet and gossip about that person and this is evil.
Jesus said that those whom He loves He rebukes. This rebuke should bring us back from where we have strayed from the light. If we follow the Lord we will love that which pertains to the light. A person who follows Jesus will deny Himself. He will not take the easy way out. God’s Word requires it of him and he has to obey. We have to obey the light which separates us from darkness.
There are many cultural traditions which are upheld in African nations, both good and evil. The culture of respect among the Zulu nation was well known. When a younger person gave their bus seat to an older person as a sign of respect, this was a good tradition. But this does not happen anymore. When a younger person allows an older person through the door first, is another good tradition. When older people are allowed to first help themselves to food or gifts before children, these are good traditions and manners. There are evil traditions upheld by the Zulu nation such as the slaughter of goats to appease the ancestors on the death of a family member. A family may not even be able to afford to buy a coffin in which to bury the body but they can afford to buy goats which cost more than coffins.
A person who follows Jesus will have nothing to do with the works of darkness. He will part from evil traditions. Follow in His footsteps, follow His example and then you will walk in the light and do what He does. The person who has experienced this light is enlightened but he who does not, knows nothing and is blinded by the darkness. He experiences death. The one who is enlightened is the one who knows God. If we love Jesus we will love His way, follow His example and do as He does. To know God is eternal life. To meet with this light you meet with eternal life. This is different to other lights, it is the light of life. Do you know eternal life? Do you know Jesus? The light of the world? The Bible says no one knows the Father but the Son and the one whom the Son chooses to reveal Himself to. The one who walks with Jesus ought to be different to all others who have not found him. Jesus said believe in the light while you still have it, walk in this light so that no darkness will be seen in your life. This is why Satan gets power in peoples’ lives, he creates chaos and confusion among believers because they do not follow the word of God that says walk in the light. While you still have Jesus who is the light, you can come to Him, speak to Him and walk with Him. Do not walk according to your flesh and your feelings and the way you see things, follow Jesus and walk in the light. If you still love worldly things, there are still things of darkness in your life. If you still crave worldly things you have not met with Jesus who is the light. If you want to dress like the world dresses and appear as close to the world as possible, you have the spirit of darkness. If you walk in the light you will strive to live according to the will of God. He who follows the light does not want to conform to the world but to the one who has called Him. He wants to be renewed and transformed to be more like the one who called Him. There should be a clear difference between the darkness and light. Do you know this light? Ask Jesus to help you to become like Him and not just look like you are a Christian. Your speech and your way of thinking, all you do and are, should show that you are a child of light.
Appendix: Blessing Sincuba
Artificial light is unreliable. Candle light sometimes smokes and blows out. Sunlight can disappear when there is cloud cover. The light of Jesus is different to any other type of light. The light of day is for a period but the light of Christ is there all the time. Jesus is the light of the world and that person who has that light will never go astray. Each one should come to Him. If you are in darkness, the fault lies with you. He invites us to come to the light. Come into His light and the darkness will flee. He is there for each and every one.