The True Light of Christmas

Title: The True Light of Christmas

Bible Book: John 8 : 12-21

Author: J. Mike Minnix

Subject: Christmas; Light, Jesus the


The True Light of Christmas

J. Mike Minnix

John 8:12-21

In John 1:1-5, we read that Jesus came into the world as the Light of the World. It is little wonder that a bright star revealed to the searching Magi where He could be found. After all, He was - and still is - the Light.

It is wonderful that we have so many lights burning brightly during the Christmas season. They are reminders in a bleak, dark world that there is a True Light that shines upon all mankind. He came to be the Light, but the darkness does not accept Him. Only when we open our hearts to Him, can the light of truth, joy and peace come into our lives.

A little boy forgot his lines in a Sunday school presentation but his mother was in the front row to prompt him. She gestured and formed the words silently with her lips, but it did not help. Her son's memory was blank. Finally she leaned forward and whispered the cue, “I am the light of the world.” The child beamed and with great feeling and a loud, clear voice said, “My mother is the light of the world.“ The little fellow was sincere but sincerely wrong. And so are a lot of people today who are looking for Light in all the wrong places.

A poor little boy once heard his Sunday School teacher say Jesus was the light of the world. He took her remark quite literally. After class, the boy said to his teacher, “If Jesus really is the light of the world, I wish He'd come hang out in my alley. It's awful dark where I live.” Indeed, we can agree with that small boy, it is awful dark on every street in this world today. But thanks be to God, Jesus did come to hang out, if you will forgive the expression, in the alley ways of this sinful, dark world. That is what Christmas is all about. Jesus came because we are in the dark.

The year 1809 was considered to be a very bad year. Napoleon Bonaparte was leading his invincible army across Europe, altering the face of the map. However, in that very year the God had born into this world, Abraham Lincoln, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Alfred Tennyson, William Gladstone, and Felix Mendelssohn. Each of these men would bring light to their various fields of endeavor. No matter how dark the world seems, God is still the light and He is always at work. The greatest birth of all time came on a dark night long ago.

It was a dark night and a dark world in many ways when God hung a star in the eastern sky to announce the advent of His Son. It was a dark night politically, economically, morally, and religiously. But it was the darkness before the dawn. Jesus came, and the world has not been the same since.

Let’s look at our text and note the context which precipitates this claim by our Lord. Our text is John 8:12-21.

12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” 13 The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.” 14 Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. 17 It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. 18 I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.” 19 Then they said to Him, “Where is Your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.” 20 These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come. 21 Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.”

Jesus had just forgiven the woman taken in adultery and had scattered her accusers in the process. He was just before opening the eyes of a man born blind, which is recorded in John, chapter 9. Apparently Jesus was at the Temple area where people were gathered and He spoke to them with this claim, “I am the light of the world.” The Pharisees challenged Him by stating that He had no right to make such a claim since He needed witnesses to back up His statement. They stated that Jesus needed two witnesses. Of course, this was part of their tradition, and not part of the scripture. They had begun to make tradition more important than the Word of God. Jesus answered them and stated His case.

I. The Declaration by Jesus

No person had ever made this statement before Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” This had been prophesied in Malachi 4:2, “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.”

Indeed, when He was born there stood above Him in the sky a great star shining brightly. Alas, the Light in the manger was far greater than the light above the manger. The star was a mere physical symbol of the marvelous spiritual reality that had come into the world to dispel the darkness. How fitting He was born at night, for He came to rid the world of darkness.

Simeon, a righteous and devout man, had been waiting for the Messiah to come. When He saw Jesus, among the words he spoke were these, Luke 2:32, “A light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

On the Mount of Transfiguration, recorded in Matthew 17:1-2, Jesus appeared as a brilliantly bright light. The Scripture states, “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.”

John on the Isle of Patmos records this also. In Revelation 21:23-25 we read, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.”

The grave must be the darkest place on this earth. Sealed over with the still body laying inside, it is a place of utter darkness, where no light can intrude. But Jesus, the Light of the World, broke down the barrier and brought light to this, the darkest of earthly places. Witness the empty tomb on the morning of His resurrection and the angels in Shining apparel. The Light had come to the darkness and scattered it forever!

There is no question that Jesus is the Light of the World.

II. The Dispute with Jesus

The religious leaders disputed the claim of Jesus that He was the light of the world.

The first recorded words of God are, “Let there be light.” Darkness prevailed over the original creation until God brought forth light and dispelled the darkness. This is a picture of the souls of men. Human beings are in darkness due to sin, but Jesus dispels the darkness when He comes to live in those who receive Him as Savior and Lord. Even though Jesus was the Light of the World, the world did not at first accept that fact. Well they should have accepted it.

John the Baptist was the most respected voice among the people before Jesus began His public ministry. John the Baptist was a witness to Jesus as the light, for John the Apostle records in John 1:6-9 these words, “There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.“

Jesus had proven that He was the Light of the World by the authority of His teaching. The people had well said that no one had ever taught as Jesus had taught. Furthermore, His miracles had revealed the truth of His statement regarding His nature. To top it all off, just before the passage under consideration today, Jesus had forgiven a woman her sins, and had pointed out by the great light of His omniscience nature that the ones accuser her had secret sins of their own and had caused them to drop the rocks of judgment and walk away from her. How is it now that they do not believe Him? Because they are in the dark! They have not seen the Light! The songwriter, in speaking of his own conversion to Christ wrote,

“I once was blind but now I see.”

These men were still blind, they had not believed on Jesus and they could not see the truth because they decided to remain in the darkness. I believe it was Plato who once said, “We can forgive a little child who is afraid of the dark, but only pity the adult who is afraid of the light.“ What pity we have for the religious leaders in this story who were afraid of the Light standing right before them. Like fish deep in the ocean who had lost their eyes, these men had grown so familiar with their low estate that they did not have eyes to see that the Son of God was right before them.

Paul tells us in Romans 1:21 that those who are lost are in that condition because their hearts are darkened! The heart speaks of the mind, will and emotion. Those who are lost have not allowed Christ to illuminate the mind, to yield the will and to sense in the emotions the love of God in Christ.

These people had chosen to be ignorant of the Light. Others around them were believing and their lives were being changed, but the people attacking Jesus simply Refused to see.

Listen carefully, one reason people cannot see is due to overwhelming pride. Like those who refused to see see when He was on earth, They knew too much for their own good! They thought they knew everything. They had closed minds. This leads many people to reject Jesus. We can see this in the arrogant question they asked, “Where is your father?” This question was meant to hurt Jesus, for rumors had spread that Jesus was the illegitimate son of a Galilean girl named Mary. The antagonists of Jesus were seeking to embarrass Jesus and to ridicule Him. They acted with pride, hatred and evil intentions. Those who mock God cannot also be a friend of God.

Least you think that these religious leaders should not be blamed for their ignorance, you need to remember that the idea of light representing God fills the Old Testament.

  • We see this in the glorious light which represented the very presence of God in the fiery cloud which led the people to the promised land (Exodus 13:21-22).
  • This same brilliant light protected them from those who would destroy them (Exodus 14:19-25).
  • The Israelites often sang Psalm 27, which begins in verse one, “The LORD is my light and my salvation.”
  • The Bible, God’s Word, was said to be a light to guide the path of those who cherish instruction (Psalm 119:105).
  • God is seen winning victories for His people by the light of His face, Psalm 44:3.
  • Isaiah tells us that the servant of the LORD was appointed as a light to the Gentiles, that he might bring God’s salvation to the ends of the earth (Isaiah. 49:6).

They knew that the One coming was to be the Light of the World. They simply closed their eyes and hearts!

III. Disclosure from Jesus

Jesus now reveals that He is the true Light. We note here that the accusers of Jesus did not question what He was saying, but only whether it was true. They knew what he was claiming. How did they know this?

It is interesting that John's Gospel, in chapter 6, 7, and 8, refer back to the wilderness journey of the children of Israel. Chapter Six mentions Jesus as the Bread of Life, and brings up the subject of the manna in the wilderness. Chapter Seven mentions the Water of Life, as related to the water offered in the temple during the feast of tabernacles to commemorate the time when they drank water from the rock.

Now, Jesus says I am the light of the world. During the Feast of Tabernacles two huge candelabra were lighted in the court of the women in front of the Temple. This was done to recall the pillar of fire by night and pillar of cloud by day which led the people when they were in the wilderness after escaping from Egypt. The Scripture had not taught the people to do this; rather, it was a tradition which had become part of worship in Jerusalem annually. Women would come with torches and dance around the giant candlesticks. It was said that the entire sky around Jerusalem was lit up by this act.

Jesus was claiming that He was that Light. He was telling them that their tradition was empty. They fully understood what He was claiming to be. So Jesus discloses to them truth regarding this illustration. In essence, Jesus was saying that the light which led them in the wilderness was but a foreshadowing of a person, namely, Himself! Jesus is the Light which fills the universe, but more importantly the Light which fills the hearts of all those who trust Him as Savior.

There is a story of a man had built a successful business through hard work and honesty. As he advanced in age, he felt concerned about the future of his business because he had no close relatives to whom he could leave it. He did have three nephews, so he called them to come to him and said, “I have a problem, and whoever comes up with the best solution will inherit all that I possess.” He gave each of them an equal sum of money, and he instructed them to buy something that would fill his large office. “Spend no more than I've given you,” he told them, “and be sure you're back by sunset.”

All day long his nephews tried their best to complete the assignment. Finally, when the time drew near for them to return to their uncle, they came back with their purchases. The first dragged a huge bale of straw into the room but when it was untied it made a pile that barely covered two of the walls. After it was cleared away, the second brought in two large bags of thistle, which filled only three-fourths of the room. This was even better than the first but still fell short. The third nephew stood by as his uncle asked, "What have you to offer?” He replied, “Uncle, I spent half of my money to feed a hungry child and gave almost all the rest to the church. With the little I had left, I bought these matches and a small candle.” Then he lit the candle and its light filled every corner of the room! His uncle realized that here was the noblest of them all. He blessed him for making the best use of his gift and gave him all his possessions. Christ is the only One who can fill your life with light and meaning, for everything else will fall short!

Let me tell you quickly, some things which light does for those who stand in its warming rays. Lets apply each of these to Jesus and to our spiritual lives.

A. Light offers Protection

"The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him" (1 John 2:9-10).

John tells us that light not only reveals mistakes, it reveals the right path to walk. Light lets us see what lies ahead, so we can safely make it through life.

When we choose to walk in the love of God we have no reason to fear. The light of God that reveals His paths to us will keep us safe and from harm. Sin and its power will not effect us because we are in the light. Those who model their lives after God’s holiness and love have nothing to fear from God.

B. Light offers Revelation

Many times we use the expression, "I finally saw the light", meaning, we finally realize the point. Light in this sense illuminates the mind, allowing us to understand what we need to know to find purpose and meaning in life.

"The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Paul warns that Satan will do what he can to keep people from realizing who Jesus is. Satan wants us in the dark, not in the light. Satan doesn’t want man's mind illuminated, he wants it closed and dark. "For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of Cod in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).

C. Light offers Animation

We know from science that life requires some form of light. Light is a source for life itself. Jesus is the source for spiritual life. Without Him, there is no life to be known. Those without Him are said to be dead in their sins. Those in Him are said to have eternal life. Jesus is the Light, the animating force of the universe.

D. Light offers Reinvigoration

In the night, sickness seems far worse, grief more difficult, trouble more foreboding, but with the light comes a renewal, a reinvigoration of our spirits. Almost everything is easier to deal with in the light.

As a boy Robert Louis Stevenson was intrigued by the work of the old lamplighter who went about with a ladder and a torch, setting the street lights ablaze for the night. One evening in Edinburgh, Scotland, as young Robert stood watching with childish fascination, his parents heard him exclaim, “Look, look! There is a man out there punching holes in the darkness!”

That is exactly what Jesus does for those who follow Him. He punches holes in the darkness. He gives comfort, peace, forgiveness, hope, joy, and assurance to those who love Him. There is someone here today who has been stumbling around in the dark. You are a Christian, but an eclipse of some thing, some sin, some problem, some fear, some weakness, some disappointment, has cause the Light of God’s love and grace to be blotted out to you. Turn from whatever it is today. Let the Sun of Righteousness rise with healing in His wings for you today! Then we can say with the poet:

“Son of my soul, Savior dear,

It is not night if thou be near.”


Let me remind Christians in this worship center that Jesus said in John 9:5, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” But now that He is gone, is the light gone also? No! You and I are the light. He told us so. We are to reflect His glory in our lives. We are to Christ what the moon is to the sun, we have no light of our own, but we have light from Him to give to this dark world.

A tourist was said to have brought back from Germany a little phosphorescent match-safe. One evening he decided to show it to some of his friends. He turned off all the lights, but the obstinate little match-safe had no shine to it. He concluded that he had been cheated by the man who sold it to him. The next day, while looking at it more closely, he read on one side, “If you wish me to shine, keep me in the sunlight.” He followed the instructions, placed it out where the sun's rays could be absorbed, and when he took it to a darkened room, he found that it had a brilliant glow. If you and I are to shine for our Lord, we must stay near Him.

A child heard that Christians were saints. On one occasion she was taken to a cathedral where she sat watching the sunshine through the windows. She asked her mother, “Who are these people on the window?” Her mother replied, “They are saints.” Then the child said, “Now I know what saints are. They are people who let the light shine through.”

So let every believer be renewed in the Light of the World today, and let every lost person come to the Light of the World to receive life everlasting. Let us be a light this Christmas shining more brightly than those that we place on our trees or outside our homes. Let Jesus reflect His light through you!

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