Reframing Enlightenment | John 8:12-30
Topic: Gospel Passage: John 8:12–8:30
Introduction | Where do we need light?
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work,Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series REFRAMING JESUS: Portraits of Glory from John’s Gospel.In Reframing Jesus, our desire isn’t to reinvent Jesus into someone He is not or make Jesus into an image we are more comfortable with. Instead, we seek to have our portrait of Jesus reframed by John’s Gospel to see Him as accurately and glorious as possible.
What Guides you?? We are all moving along in our lives, none of is completely static mean not moving at all. Even if we feel “stuck” somehow time is still passing, we are aging, we are each in a journey of life, both individual and collectively. We are walking, but where are we, and where are we going? If we’re walking, moving, than by nature it implies we are following some direction. What do you look to for direction? What guides you? Maybe you’re a very independent person and you say “I don’t follow others, I follow myself.” That’s an option, but you are following someone and it’s you. Perhaps you’re less bold or less intense and you like think you’re just a “go with the flow” person then you’re following something, someone, either another person or the course of the culture around you. As we go on our journey in life we invariably begin to access what we think about where we are and will likely find parts of it difficult, discouraging, even dark at times. We wonder where we’re going and if it is going to lead us to more difficult and discouragement (with the small but growing shadow of our death and our mortality looming) and hope or desire a destination in this journey that is better than where we presently are. So when we realize how little we can truly see we start to seek some enlightenment, some illumination to provide guidance for our path and hope for our future. So we consult those we think have more wisdom, we try to access those who have gone before us to see what they’ve found. We try to grow our intellect thinking if we just understand the world better than we can navigate it more effectively. We can desire spiritual guidance if we believe enlightenment can be found outside of ourselves. Most of us search internally for what we feel or believe assuming that because its us we must be right and see things rightly. Each of these are problematic in their own way because they make assumptions about the clarity each of these pursuits will yield and ignore how dark our world and our own hearts actually are. We need to seek a source of light that is outside of us, uncorrupted by darkness. In Jesus we are Reframing Enlightenment.
PART I |Reframing Light |John 8:12-20
John 8:12-20 |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.” 19 They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
Back in the Feast of Booths, Jesus is teaching and speaking directly to the people and the Pharisees around him. Setting matters for this great statement Jesus makes. There is this brief comment “He spoke in the treasury” a better translation is near the offering boxes of the temple which means He’s in the court of the women (a place most people could gather) It’s in this place that There is a great lamp lighting ceremony each night where four massive lanterns would be lit in great celebration with music and dancing as the lanterns casting light in the temple courts and served as beacons from the temple to shine over nearly every dark portion of the city. This part of the festival was significant in pointing back to Exodus. They are celebrating not only the God who provided for them in the wilderness giving water in the desert (Jesus has said if you thirst come and believe and me and drink) But you need more than simple provision in the desert wilderness. It is great, truly great that God provides for us in the midst of our wilderness, but desert wilderness is not a place anyone wants to live. God’s people weren’t lead out of slavery to dwell in the desert, the were led from slavery to journey to a place/land of promise. People need sustenance and people need guidance so they can know there is a reason and a way they are walking that will lead to a better future than their present circumstances. God met His people in the wilderness as pillar of fire in the desert night leading His people. He meets us in our wilderness to provide for us and to lead us out of it!
As people are celebrating the God who lead Israel with light, Jesus says “I am the light of the WORLD!”
Psalm 27:1 | The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Ps 36:9| For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
Jesus doesn’t leave this as an abstract idea but lays out the implications of what He is saying. You need to follow Him (like he’s a pillar of light in the wilderness) because to not, is to continue to walk in darkness. Darkness implies there is a world that needs light, that has sin. Darkness is ignorance not knowing what is right and true, darkness can be evil rejecting what is light life/true. Darkness is judging things for ourselves.
What happens to you when you walk in darkness and follow yourself? You can follow yourself and feel around a dark room? You’re uncertain, you’re tentative in your steps, you’re fearful. You don’t know what you’re engaging with. You misinterpret what you’re “seeing” feelings become your guide. You will stumble, you’ll hurt other people.I’ve been to Lewis and Clark caverns in Montana as a kid and you go in to a dark room with No light and turn it off and it’s blackness. You cannot see anything. It’s terrifying. There is no amount of simply adjusting your eyes, even if you had a map of the caves.What happens when you “follow your heart and inner light” on that one? You end up farther away and pits and destruction await. You don’t make it any closer to light. You don’t produce light. You are made to reflect light, but we are not a light source. We all need to be led, but following ourselves will not lead us to life. In the end of Judges it says “everyone did what was right in their own eyes”…. And the consequences were terrible, yet this idea still permeates our world as a popular way to experience a full and rich life. This has even creeped up in Christian circles (Rachel Hollis – Girl, Stop Apologizing) tells here reader to essentially follow yourself and your dreams regardless of what external influences may say so shamelessly and wholeheartedly that you never experience any feeling of guilt. This is Disney, not Christian doctrine. This will lead to destruction as you disregard the source of life and light in exchange for believing the lie that light is found from within.
Jesus doesn’t say “in you is the light of the world so follow yourself and you’ll have a better more abundant life. He says…..“I am THE light of the world.” Not A light, not one of many lights, not one who helps you find your inner light. Following Jesus means we’re not walking in darkness but we’re illuminated by the one who spoke light into existence who is light shining in darkness. If you’re following Jesus you will not walk in darkness. This means simply if you don’t follow Jesus you are… walking in Darkness.
But we don’t like following, we like our darkness. There is resistance to relinquishing our guidance to Jesus. The Pharisees are the biggest opponents. Jesus is making a big claim and they stand in contradiction to it. But they like us are in darkness that is comprehensive and keeps us from seeing ourselves, God, and the world accurately. In our darkness we will reject even the hope and promise of light from outside us.
We are in darkness because of our ignorance. The Pharisees don’t “know where Jesus comes from or where He is going.” Jesus has come from Heaven to earth on a mission to save the world. He will return to heaven. They, and we, have no intimate knowledge of heaven because it is a place where the rule and reign of God is experienced unblemished by sin, death and darkness. We haven’t been there, we’re here in a world that is more like wilderness than it is like paradise and so we cannot accurately comprehend a place free from darkness and filled with perfect light.
We are in darkness because we judge by human standards. Jesus says they “judge by the flesh” This is “human standards” verses God’s standards. We judge and evaluate based on what we can see, how we can regard another person based on our own superficial observation. This is all we’re able to do because of our own limitations. Darkness is judging by ourselves. God does judge and judges perfectly, because He see perfectly, He see comprehensively deep into our hearts and souls. Jesus isn’t saying He NEVER judges He is saying he doesn’t judge in the inaccurate ways that we do. We look at Jesus, through our own lenses thinking we see properly, but we’re in darkness so we need illumination. We need to see through His lenses.
Darkness is present but with Jesus it doesn’t have to be permanent. Light is available. You cannot have illumination without relying on the one sent to be the light of the world. You cannot hope to see God without seeing Jesus as God. Jesus give us perspective in our lives so we can walk in the new life we have with Him. They’re challenging Jesus, they’re standing in judgement over Jesus. Jesus can withstand your scrutiny. But he doesn’t have to. He condescends to engage with us in ways we can comprehend. He even assents to their “laws” regarding true testimony when it’s not necessary for Him to do so.But does so for the purposes of bringing greater clarity, to give the opportunity to be enlighten those who are in darkness. They want to see His earthly father, they misunderstand Jesus is talking about God the Father. Jesus and the Father are the witnesses to who Jesus is. But they don’t believe Him. So Jesus says “you don’t know God if you don’t know God the Father unless you know Jesus is God the Son.” This is incredibly challenging to the those who have gathered to challenge Jesus. They’re all standing near these great lanterns representing God’s who is light, who has brought light to people in the wilderness, they’ve been in darkness without guidance and He’s saying you don’t even know the God you believe you’re here to celebrate. They are standing in Judgement of Jesus. The question isn’t can Jesus withstand your judgement, but can you withstand His? Jesus can see you perfectly when you cannot even see yourself properly, He continues….
PART II | Reframing Enlightenment | John 8:21-27
John 8:21-27 | 21 So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” 25 So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father.
We are in darkness because we seek light without Jesus and find none. Jesus is enlightened in how His mission of salvation and illumination will play out. He will die, rise, and return to heaven he will “go away”. For these Jewish religious leaders, they’ve been waiting for and desiring a savior, one to shine light into their dark world, He’s right in front of them, and they deny/reject Him, they’ll keep looking and waiting, and remaining in darkness. Without Jesus you will go on looking for light, seeking illumination, hoping to be enlightened to understand the world around you and your own heart and you will be searching in darkness. Jesus being the Light of the World means that you will not find light in the world apart from Jesus.
Enlightenment comes with understanding the nature the consequences we face without Jesus. They have been challenging Jesus, but Jesus begins to turn around and challenge them. You can wrestle with Jesus, but you better be prepared that if you think you’re evaluating Jesus. It is Jesus evaluation of you that is the only one that actually matters. He says clearly, without believing in Him the consequences are death. The stakes of staying in darkness are high, and eternal. We will die in sin. Sin in verse 21 is singular. This is the Great sin of unbelief, unbelief that Jesus is the son of God. Believing the lie that rejecting God leads to greater enlightenment (when it leads to darkness) and flourishing life (when it leads to death) Verse 24, says We will die in our sins. This is plural, not only our nature of sin but the outworking of our nature. These are the acts and attitudes you commit because of your unbelief. If you don’t trust in Jesus than your sins remain unforgiven and your guilt remains. Jesus has come not to condemn but to save, yes! But the nature of His salvation is by definition divisive because to follow Jesus as light of life is to believe He is the source of light and life. It is to have your faith, your source of illumination be placed and root in, Jesus alone.
Enlightenment comes when we see we cannot get to light, but that light has come to us. We are in a place of darkness, we are here in this world. Jesus says, “you’re from below” that’s right here. Where He is “from above. The sooner we recognize we are in darkness, and there won’t be the light we truly need for guidance and life here the sooner we can long for light that it beyond the darkness we’re in. Back to the cave, we’re born in the cave, all we know is the cave so we think that’s normal. Jesus is from outside the cave where there is light. When we’re in the cave and need light, we cannot go on a journey and find light. Light has to come to us, meet us in our darkness to show us how dark where we are is, and lead us out!
Enlightenment comes when see Jesus accurately as the Light of God.They’re confused and Jesus is clear. Who are you Jesus!? I’ve been pretty clear, but you’re still in the dark. I have been telling you all along.
In verse 24 (and again in v28 Jesus says you need to believe ‘I am he” can be also translated to Jesus saying “I am” like God in Exodus “I am who I am”He’s saying you need to know I am the same God who led His people out of slavery and on a path to a land of promise. So who am I? I already told you “I am”
Jesus does have a judgment of the world, but this mission is one not of judgement but of salvation.
Jesus is present to expose sin, but also expose the path to salvation and eternal life now and forever. When Jesus judges He doesn’t make benign observations, He makes divine proclamations. He perfectly sees that He is God and they are not. Jesus knows He is God and you and I are not. Jesus knows our condition and in is perfect judgement of our sin and imperfection, He extends an offer of mercy for the purposes of giving us gracious new life with Him. Your disposition to Jesus matters. God brings enlightenment in Jesus. If you want to know the light of God, if you want to be “enlightened” then you need to look to Jesus. There is one light. There is one way to follow. To reject the light is to choose to remain in darkness. To reject the Son is to choose to remain estranged from the Father and the consequences is death. There is one destination without belief in Jesus. There is another destination with belief in Jesus. This is a limited time offer. If you die in sin, in your sins than it is judgement. This judgement is reserved at this point, but it is assured.
PART III | Reframing Cross |John 8:28-30
John 8:28-30 |28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.
Enlightenment comes in seeing God through the lens of the Cross. The cross provides enlightenment to show us who Jesus is. It shows us the character and nature of our God who meets us in our darkness who endures great darkness for us. Jesus is our substitute, enduring the consequences of our sin and darkness for us. We can know our darkness (our sin) has been taken for us on the Cross and we’ve been given Jesus righteousness in our place, so we can begin to see ourselves and world through the eyes of Jesus..
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. – CS Lewis
Enlightenment (guidance) comes from trusting Jesus for the next step even when we cannot see the whole path.It says many believed in him, and He hadn’t even done His might act of salvation. They know the what Jesus has said and they believed He is who He says He is before the whole story has played out. This is faith. Are you going to trust Jesus before your story is over?
How do we deal with not knowing precisely what is next? We have Jesus to light our way even when we cannot see anything else around us when we’re in a dark place, He is the pillar of fire that we fix our eyes on in the darkness. It’s remembering you’re in wilderness, but that you’re not alone in wilderness. You’re not without the presence and direction of God in your wilderness. Following Jesus when you don’t know what is next means having to trust Him with each step of the story. Focusing on trusting Jesus in the moment, then the next, then the next.We walk with Him, one step, one step…. But you cannot worry about the next 1,000 steps. The journey might be difficult, the journey might have seasons of pain and heartache even agony. We know this because of the cross, but as sure as Jesus resurrected from the tomb, we have assurance that our journey with Him will lead to a promised future of light and life with God forever when we Trust Jesus.