I’m a few days late in getting this posted but better late than never. We are continuing our series, “Who do you say I AM?” journeying through the “I AM…” statements that Jesus made as recorded in the Gospel of John. This past week was, “I am the Light of the World.”
As I prepared for the sermon I was struggling to see how to make this sermon come to life. It’s a pretty straight forward statement and one that doesn’t seem to need much explanation. Boy ,was I wrong. As I studied the passage, the context, and what it all meant I as blown away by the magnitude of what Jesus was saying. Truth is, I was in awe.
This week we dove right into the text and I had a student volunteer (on the spot, not prepped) come on stage to read John 8:12-20.
That’s right, we got deep into the history of the Old Testament, specifically unpacking the Festival of the Tents/Tabernacles/Shelters, since this is teh festival that was taking place when Jesus made this statement.We went to Leviticus 23:42-43 to begin our journey and then I shared a personal experience our family had the past fall celebrating the Festival of Tents with our Local Outreach Pastor and Messianic Jewish friend, Larry Stamm (serves on staff with me at GFC). I then pointed them to Deuteronomy 1:32-33 which describes how God went before the Israelites on the Exodus as a pillar of fire by night. I then showed the kids a floor plan of the Temple and where Jesus stood as He made the statement, “I am the Light of the World.” He was standing in the Temple Treasury (John 8:20) which happened to be the courtyard in which the celebrated this festival by lighting 4 75-foot-tall oil lamps and the Jewish men would dance all night holding torches in their hands. The light was so powerful from their torches and the oil latterns that all of Jerusalem was illuminated by the light they put off…do you see how it all fits. Jesus made His statement of being the light of the world in the midst of this light celebration during the Festival of Tents. He was explaining in a very tangible and real life way to the people in that setting that He was God and the fullness of the light God provided to the Jews and that they celebrated during this festival. Wow! Blown away!
I then talked to the students about the Power and the Purpose of Light, reading through Psalm 119:105, 2 Cor 4:6, and Isaiah 9:2 connecting the dots all over Scripture. It was really cool and a lot of fun.
As a counter measure to the point I was making we showed our students on of the classic Vintage 21 Jesus videos to demonstrate that Jesus didn’t come as light of the world to expose us our sin and leave us to deal with it but to expose us to truth (which in turn will expose our sin) but His purpose was to illuminate redemption, not condemnation. It was a humorous but powerful climax.
I read both John 8:30 and 8:59 showing in that same chapter the two ways people responded to Jesus and then gave students to respond in 1 of 3 ways at the end of our service:
- non-believers could come talk with me during worship about beginning a relationship with Jesus Christ, stepping out of darkness and into light.
- believing students who found themselves in a dark place could seek out our adult leaders around the room (standing against the walls during the invitation) for prayers over them that God would reveal Himself as a powerful light in the midst of the dark season of life they found themselves in.
- we challenged our students to sign up for our summer mission trips as an opportunity to be a light to the world themselves.
I also have to hand it to our new Student Ministry Worship intern, Ryan Hughes, who knocked it out of the park selecting songs that reflected the theme of our sermon: All My Fountains, Marvelous Light, Here I Am to Worship, and You Are the Light.