As predicted in the Scripture, and as a necessary consequence of being called by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I was transformed once I became a believer; and by God’s grace that transformation continues to this day. I slowly began adopting Christian morals, attitudes, lifestyle, thought—sometimes intentionally, sometimes without even being aware it was happening. Of course, while my outlook on all of life was shifted by Christ, there is still much more to be done.
One totally unexpected change, however, was that I began to do “out-door-sy” stuff. Within a couple of years of becoming a Christian, I started backpacking, camping, rock climbing, canoeing, and other outdoorsy activities. Now, I’m not suggesting that the Gospel changes us all into wilderness experts! But God did certainly use a growing interest in the outdoors to sharpen my experiences and embrace of the Gospel message.
I well remember one of the first times I was spelunking. (“Spelunking” is the technical term we use to sound refined and uppity when we are talking about crawling around in a muddy cave.) If you have ever been in a cave, you know how exciting it can be—exciting, scary, intriguing, and very challenging. On my first trip, our guide insisted that every participant have at least two sources of light, a candle and a flashlight, because of how impossibly dark it is in a cave. Many of you have either experienced this or can imagine it—in a cave, deep underground with no source of light, there it is complete and utter darkness. In the absence of light, there is nothing, NOTHING you can see.
We crawled, scampered, and slithered through various passageways and tunnels to go from one cavern to another. We eventually gathered in one of the larger “rooms”. Here, the guide had us all turn off our flashlights. Immediately, we were plunged into a deep, deep darkness. It was indeed completely impossible to see. After a few minutes, the guide encouraged us to wave our hands in front of our faces, to do anything possible to see anything at all. Nothing. Deep in the cave, there is no light, nothing but complete darkness.
We sat there, numbed by the darkness of it all. The totality of the darkness was overwhelming. And, then the guide reminded us—“Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world.’ Without Christ, the world is in darkness.” Ouch. To think of this utter blackness, the total absence of light, to live your entire life in this bleak darkness was crushing. That anyone would dwell in the dark, real dark, without any light, was depressing, frustrating, and convicting.
While feeling overwhelmed by the plight of those without Christ, the guide then reminded us—“Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world’”; and he lit a single candle. Suddenly the room blazed with light! Oh, in reality, I suppose it was just a little candle. But the contrast was amazing! Where once there was nothing, nothing at all but darkness, suddenly, with but one light, everything changed. Darkness was scattered, the absence was filled, and light filled the room. Oh, for sure, there were places in the cave where it remained gloomy and dreary. But, nowhere was there darkness any longer. One light effectively chased it away; try as it might to resist, the darkness was completely overcome by the light.
I have used that same illustration numerous times—including this summer with a group of men from Hebron—and each time, I am amazed at how bleak and truly hopeless is the darkness. The thought that anyone would live like that saddens and horrifies me. But even more powerful is the victory of the One Light in bringing life to the world. No matter how extensive the night, the light of Christ completely overcomes the darkness. “In Him there is no darkness at all!” (1 John 1:5). And we are children of the light—therefore, let us shine that light in the darkness!
As you prepare for worship this week, read John 8:12-30.
1. If you read through the entire passage, you might be as surprised as I am at verse 30. After that discussion, many believed? Amazing. I would think many would be confused. Why do you think people responded to this interchange with belief?
2. The word “again” in verse 12 probably connects to Jesus’ teaching in chapter 7 where the background is the Feast of Tabernacles. Where might Jesus’ focus on being the light of the world connect?
3. In these verses, Jesus draws some strong contrasts—between light and darkness… and others. What other contrasts are present? Why is this important?
4. In verse 13 and following, Jesus has an interchange with the Pharisees about the validity of Jesus’ testimony. Why is this important? How does this connect to His statement about being the Light of the World?
5. What relationship does Jesus describe between Himself and His Father?
6. In verse 28, Jesus points toward His coming crucifixion. Why does this seem to conclude His discussion with the Pharisees? What is His point in bringing this up?