Explore The Bible Study: I Am The Light

8:33 AM

There are all types, sizes, and color temperatures of lights.  There are warm white light bulbs that produce a yellowish light. There are the cool white lights that produce light similar to a fluorescent. There are daylight lights that produce a blue-white light that is the equivalent of outdoor light. There are the LED, florescent, incandescent, black light, and halogen bulbs. Did you know that LED lighting is the most conventional light source used for open surgery. It reduces the shadows. Thank goodness surgeons use good lighting! There is the light used in forensics to discover blood at a crime scene. Now there is a special light used by many dentists to detect oral cancer. Light is even used to measure blood flow in veins and arteries. But there is only one light that gives eternal life. This light is not a thing but a person--Jesus Christ. The Explore the Bible Study: I Am The Light will focus on helping you understand more fully what Jesus meant when He proclaimed that He is the light.

Throughout the Scriptures, our sin-broken world is compared to living in darkness. Then, in John 8:12, Jesus tells us that He is the light of the world.  It’s difficult to describe in one study of a single set of passages what it truly means that Jesus is the light of the world. This concept encompasses so much, yet it all has its beginnings in knowing that Jesus is the Son of God who came as The Light to rescue those who are living in darkness.

John 7 focused on Jesus traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem to attend the Festival of Tabernacles. About midway through the festival, Jesus began to teach in the temple complex. The teaching led to confrontations with religious leaders due to Jesus’ credentials and the validity of His message.  Toward the end of chapter 7, we see the religious leaders sending the temple police to arrest Jesus; yet He continued to teach in the temple complex. After this incident Jesus left the city and went to the Mount of Olives. 

By dawn of the next day, Jesus was back in the temple teaching again. Now the scribes and Pharisees are beginning to turn up the heat on Jesus. They have devised what they thought would be a trap for Jesus, but it only led to Jesus revealing what it means the He is the light of the world.

As the Light, Jesus reveals all that is hidden in the darkness – John 8:3-11

These religious leaders were using the adulterous woman as a pawn, but Jesus, as The Light, exposes the dark sins that were evident in all who were present in this confrontation.

The hypocrisy of their actions is so obvious to all. If they had really been serious about sin, they would have dealt with the man as well, as outlined in Deuteronomy 22:22. But, their actions were not about redemption. This is obvious by the way they used this woman as their pawn. They only desired to discredit Jesus. Instead, Jesus discredits them because of their own hypocrisy. 

Then Jesus acts redemptively in how He treats the woman. Jesus, The Light, did not ignore her sin, but He forgave and gave instructions. He told her to “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” This is not the first time Jesus used this phrase. In John 5:1-15, Jesus instructed the invalid by the Pool of Bethesda to do the same. Jesus was not speaking of sinless perfection. He was warning them and all who have experienced His forgiveness to not return to sinful lifestyle choices. His words demonstrated grace and mercy while demanding holiness on the part of the one forgiven. Forgiveness comes with the expectation that we will not continue down the same dark path. If one has truly experienced God’s love, one will naturally desire to pursue holy living.

To see the darkness within us and to receive Christ’s forgiveness is to experience a heart change. The forgiveness Jesus gives is not cheap, and it does not excuse sin. If we truly understood the cost of that forgiveness, we would no longer choose to continue down the dark path of habitual sin. 

Consider the darkness Jesus sees in your heart. If you have received his forgiveness and experienced His salvation, then your life will be different. Are you striving to drive out the dark influences of sin that continue to influence you? Or do you walk away as the scribes and Pharisees did?

Jesus overturned the judgment of the religious leaders because they too had sinned. Not one of them could “cast the first stone.” It is against this backdrop that Jesus introduces the second of the great “I Am’s,” “I am the light of the world.”

As the Light, Jesus gives life – John 8:12-18

God gives us illustrations in creation regarding light and darkness that should help us understand what Jesus is saying regarding light. Perhaps one of the most notable illustrations comes from the state of Alaska. The northernmost city in Alaska is Barrow. During the winter, residents don’t see the sun for 67 days, but they enjoy over 80 days of uninterrupted daylight during the summer. The darkness during the winter does bring challenges to the residents, but when the light is constant, it’s very different. Even produce is known to grow larger because of so much light -- Alaska has won world records for their 76-pound rutabaga and 127-pound cabbage. Light gives opportunity for growth that isn’t as available when darkness is prevalent.

In addition to taking advantage of the long daylight hours to grow produce, Alaska and other places that experience days of darkness have turned to technology to sustain growth year around. This has led to the use of the LED and fluorescent bulbs to to produce full-spectrum light that plants need in order to grow.

Jesus linked Himself to God’s identity as the great I AM (Exodus 3:14). In doing so, Jesus claimed equality with God the Father. As the light, His presence exposes sins, such as the hypocrisy of the religious leaders and the immorality of the adulterous woman. On a more positive note, Jesus illuminates the path of anyone who follows Him, thus giving them life.

Jesus said that, as the “light of the world,” those who followed Him would never walk in darkness but would have the “light of life.” How would you explain what Jesus is saying about Himself?

Jesus also points out that the human standards, by which the Pharisees judged Him (and others), were flawed. They only looked at the external that was superficial, and showed partiality. In the previous verses the adulterous woman was judged but not the man. Their motives for judging the woman weren't pure either; it was tainted by their own sinful/selfish desires.

Notice also the justification Jesus gave to indicate His testimony was valid. He knew where He came from and where He was going. 

Then Jesus makes a set of interesting statements, “I judge no one” and then, “I and the Father who sent Me judge together." Many have focused on the first statement regarding what Jesus said about not judging anyone using it to justify sinful lifestyle choices and other sins. But Jesus is not saying He doesn't judge sin. The fact is sin was already judged. Jesus came so that those living under the judgement of sin might be redeemed. We are already judged and found guilty. There is no need for Him to come and judge us. His purpose for coming was explained in John 3:17 – “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” But, one day Jesus will judge -- see John 5:22-24.

Since man’s judgment is flawed, why do we struggle so much with the fact that God judges us?

Jesus Is The Light

Jesus, as the Light of the world illuminates even the darkest corners of our lives, revealing the sin that is prevalent. This illumination only confirms that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. Because all have sinned, judgment has already been cast. So, as the Light, Jesus gives life to those who follow Him.  He promises that we will no longer be condemned to walk in darkness. Forgiven by His grace, we can walk in His light. Yet, one must remember that, for those who refuse to follow Jesus, a day will come when Jesus and the Father will formally judge all who reject Him.

Take a moment to write down what it means to you as a believer that you are no longer walking in darkness because of Jesus.

How can you introduce others to the Light of the world so they can follow Him out of darkness?

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. 

Download PDF Version 

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LifeWay Explore The Bible Resources

These teaching helps are intended to be used as a supplement to your study of Lifeway's Explore the Bible curriculum resources. Portions of this material are taken directly from content copyrighted to Lifeway Christian Resources Explore the Bible and is used with permission.  This material has not been reviewed by Lifeway Christian Resources. 

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