Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Light of the World

Episode Resources

Watch "Jesus—Light of the World."

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Today on Revive Our Hearts we’re going to talk about Jesus as the Light of the World. What a great time to be talking about that as we celebrate the day that Jesus came to bring light and salvation to a dark world. How thankful I am that the light of Jesus not only saves us, but it also directs our actions day by day.

A woman named Jenny discovered what it means to have the light of His truth shine on her practical choices. At one point in her life she was so focused on success in her career that she was purposefully making her family a lower priority.

Jenny: This sounds awful but I would look for ways to work more so I would have less responsibility with my children. I was a career-seeking, ladder-climbing registered nurse. I’ve always had a drive to get as much as you can and keep going up.

In-between my patients’ homes, I was listening to Christian radio, and I stumbled upon Revive Our Hearts one day. I had never heard of it or Nancy before that, but I liked what I heard. Then a year-and-a-half or so ago she started the Titus 2 series on the radio.

Nancy (Titus 2 series): Titus 2 speaks to the issue of the counter-cultural women. What does she look like? Does it really matter that we have this counter-cultural revolution?

Jenny: It was like turning a light on for me in the sense that I had never heard these things. I had grown up in the church but had never heard the Titus 2 teaching.

Nancy: Jenny learned even more about Titus 2 when she came to the Revive '17 conference, hosted by Revive Our Hearts.

Jenny: And it rocked my world. It had changed my family tree in ways that I pray will be very long-lasting.

Robyn McKelvy (Revive '17): You are involved in nurturing in this time in your life. You have to be available to see these kids as God sees them. They are an inheritance from God.

Jenny: And the Lord has broken my heart for home and for my family.

Robyn: We've got to be available so that we can share with our kids the truth of God's Word so that when they go through their stuff, they have a solid foundation in Truth.

Jenny: Within the last year I have made the transition to being a full-time stay-at-home mom, with baby number three on the way, praise the Lord.

Nancy: Jenny continued to get encouragement from Revive Our Hearts as she moved into this new opportunity, and she joined us this fall for the True Woman '18 conference.

Jenny: I now feel a sense of hope and a sense of “let’s see what the Lord’s going to do this year.”

Nancy: I trust Revive Our Hearts will be able to serve Jenny for years to come as she raises those precious children. Perhaps the Lord will call Jenny back to being a nurse one day. If so, Revive Our Hearts will continue serving her as she serves her patients.

Jenny: And Lord willing, I hope to go back to that at some point, but I feel passionately that my calling, my ministry, right now, is within the walls of my home.

Nancy: What seemed like a chance encounter—this mom stumbling upon a radio program in the car—God used it to shed light of His truth on her life and re-direct an entire family. Revive Our Hearts was there that day with Jenny in the car because listeners like you have supported the ministry through their prayers and financial gifts. If you've been a part of investing in that way in this ministry, I want to say a huge "thank you!"

I want to let you know as we come to the end of the year, we need to hear from you again. There are a whole lot of Jennys out there who are desperate to receive true hope from God’s Word. We want to be there for them, and the response from our listeners during these last weeks of the year will have a huge effect on the ministry we’re able to accomplish in the year ahead.

Some friends of this ministry want to help us continue providing true hope for listeners like Jenny. They've agreed to match every gift given to Revive Our Hearts between now and December 31,  dollar for dollar, up to a matching challenge amount of $750,000. That means if you give a gift of $25, they'll match it with $25. If you give a gift of $100, they'll match it with $100, and so on. So this is a great time for you to help us continue pointing women to Jesus—who is our only and true hope.

You can give online to help us meet this matching challenge by going to ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. Thanks so much for helping Revive Our Hearts offer true hope to women who are desperate to receive it.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of the new Advent devotional, The First Songs of Christmas, for Tuesday, November 27, 2018.

We're preparing to celebrate the birth of our Savior by looking at some of His names in our current series, “The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus.” 

Nancy: We’re looking this week at Jesus, the great I AM and several of the “I AM” statements in Gospel of John. We looked yesterday at John 6 where Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.” And today we’re going to be in John 8 where Jesus says: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  That’s John 8, verse 12. 

Now, I’ve never been good at science and my fifth grade teacher wrote on my report card, “Nancy seems overwhelmed by our study of electricity.” (laughter) It was true then, and it’s true now. But I tried to do a little research on this thing of light for this study, and I found myself being a bit overwhelmed again trying to understand some of these things. But here are a few things I did grasp.

Light is amazing. We take it for granted. We don’t think consciously a lot about light. You know that the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. Did I get that right? I think that’s right. And that only a tiny portion of the entire spectrum of light, which they call the electromagnetic spectrum, only a tiny portion of that whole spectrum is visible to our eyes. So we think we see light, but we actually just see just a little sliver of it.

Well, light is a major theme in Scripture, from beginning to end, and it’s contrasted with darkness. For example in Genesis chapter 1, you’re familiar with this passage:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (vv. 1–3).

So this was the first creative act of God as the Spirit of God hovered, God created light. Now light is pure energy. And energy in light helps plants grow. So when God said, “Let there be light,” God was energizing His creation.

Throughout the Scripture darkness is used as metaphor for that which is anti-God. The wicked are called darkness. Sin has to do with darkness. Death has to do with darkness. At the Fall in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve rejected the Light. They rejected the truth of God. And as a result, our planet was plunged into great moral, spiritual darkness. And every human being that’s been born since Adam and Eve, that includes us, was born into darkness.

Now, metaphorically in the Scripture, light is used for God, for life, for salvation. God’s Word is said to be light. His presence is associated with light. Truth, goodness, holiness, purity, godliness, these are all concepts in Scripture that are associated with light.

And the light of God’s presence is something that you often find highlighted throughout the Scripture, particularly in the Old Testament as God’s people sought after the light of His presence. And you remember, for example, in Exodus 13, after the children of Israel came out of Egypt, after the exodus, Exodus 13 tells us:

The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night (v. 21).

God gave the light of His presence, the Shekinah glory of God was seen as a light to lead His people so the people would know, “This is where God’s going and we want to be where God is. We don’t want to go where there’s darkness. We want to follow the light of God’s presence.” Now remember this Shekinah glory from the Old Testament which is a type that we will see has great significance as we come to the New Testament.

Now let me stay with the Old for just another moment. Exodus 35 tells us about a golden lampstand that was found in the tabernacle. This was the only means of light in the tabernacle. There were no windows in the tabernacle. There was no natural light. This lampstand which had to be kept lit, had to stay tended, represented the presence of God, the Shekinah glory, the light of God.

Now, as sin came into the world, mankind  has lived in darkness. And that means we stumble around. We can’t see truth; we can’t see beauty. We are in the darkness. The darkness conceals. There’s so much that we can’t see because sin has caused us to live in the darkness. But throughout the Old Testament we have this promise of a great light that would come into the world and would push back the darkness of the world.

We read for example in Isaiah chapter 9: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (v. 2). This is a messianic prophecy anticipating the day when God who said, “Let there be light” in the beginning would send the light of His presence incarnate in the flesh to this earth to be a great light.

Now the Old Testament saints saw this only dimly. We see it more clearly because we look back to Christ having come to this world. In Isaiah 49 God says in relation to Messiah, the Servant of the Lord, He said: “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (v. 6). And then in Isaiah 60:

Arise, shine, for your light has come,and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord [Jehovah] will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you (vv. 1–2).

Does this remind you of John 1 that says, “We beheld His glory”? This is the light coming into the world that was promised 700 years earlier in Isaiah 60. “And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (v. 3).

So for centuries of the Old Testament, we have darkness. And for 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament, we have silence. No word from God. No cloud. No pillar of fire. No light of God to light the way of His people. And the people fall into despair, hopelessness. And then we get to the New Testament, the New Covenant, and we get to the Gospel of John, in particular. And light explodes in the darkness.

John 1, verse 4: “In him [in Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men.” This is the light for which God’s people had been waiting and longing for hundreds of years. His life, according to John 1, gives us light and His light gives us life.

John 1, verse 6:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world (vv. 6–9).

Now I want to spend several moments here in the Gospel of John chapter 8. So let me invite you to turn there. This is where Jesus first declares Himself to be the Light of the world, John 8, verse 12. But let me give you some context for this passage that I think will help you read this chapter in a whole new light, if I can say that.

The context here is that the Feast of Tabernacles had just finished. This was an annual feast celebrated by the Jews. John chapter 7 takes place during the Feast of Tabernacles. But now this is the day after the Feast of Tabernacles.

Alfred Edersheim has written a really helpful resource many years ago called The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. And in that book, it’s actually a massive volume. I’ve seen it in two volumes. He give a lot of the background into the culture and the life and times of Jesus and helps us understand some things that were going on in that period of Judaism that we may not be aware of.

And he explains that there was an important ceremony that had been developed during the Feast of Tabernacles. It was not prescribed in the Old Testament but it was one that the later Old Testament Jews had developed, and it took place during the Feast of Tabernacles. It was a ceremony called the “Illumination of the Temple.”

It involved the lighting of four, huge, golden oil-fed lamps that were in center of what was known as the Court of the Women. Now this wasn’t a place where only women could go. It was called that because women were not allowed to go any further into the temple than the Court of the Women.

This court was also called the treasury. When you read in the Scripture about people putting their coins into the horn-shaped, trumpet-shaped receptacle that was in this room, the Court of the Women, the treasury. That’s going to be important in just a moment. You’ll see why.

But here were these four giant menorahs or candelabras that were placed in this Court of the Women during the Feast of the Tabernacles. They were seventy-five feet high. They were huge. Every night during the Feast of the Tabernacles, four young men from priests’ families would climb ladders up to the top of these candelabras. They would fill the golden bowls with oil and light the lamps. As they did, the people would commemorate how God led His people in the wilderness with the pillar of fire. They would remember back to those days.

So these four huge candelabras would be lit each night after dark. They would light up the temple area brilliantly and then the light from the temple, because these candelabras were so tall, that light would pour over temple walls and light up the whole city.

This was a symbol of the Shekinah glory of God that had once filled the temple. And it was a reminder to these Old Testament Jews of that great light that the Old Testament promised would come to people who lived and walked in darkness.

Now, this is the day after the Feast of Tabernacles. The lights have been lit for the last time for that annual celebration. Jesus stands in the Court of the Women, in the treasury. You see that in verse 20 of John 8, near these massive candelabras that had been lit each night for days, and He says:

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).

He’s saying in effect, “You have seen these lamps lit and their light dispelling the darkness of the temple and of this city, but I am the Light of the world. Yes, this light of the temple is magnificent, but it eventually goes out. The one who follows me will have light—not just an occasional, annual blaze of light, but will have light forever.”

Now, that was an audacious claim, if it wasn’t true! Jesus was claiming to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament Messianic prophecies. We’re seeing this so many times in these names as Jesus claims to be the fulfillment of the I AM Jehovah in the Old Testament. He was the fulfillment of the manna, the bread. Now He says, “I’m the fulfillment of the light.”

The Pharisees knew this. Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah. He was claiming to be I AM, the God of the Old Testament in human flesh, at work in the world. He was claiming to be the source of life and light. He alone. “I am the Light of the world,” He was saying there is no other light for this world. He was claiming exclusiveness, the uniqueness of Himself and of the gospel. 

And He said, “Whoever follows me will have light.” You see the Jews had followed that pillar of cloud and that pillar of fire that led them during the Exodus. They had to remember back to that, how they followed that cloud. And now Jesus said, “I’m the light. Follow me.” To follow Him is to believe Him, to give yourself completely to Him.

It’s following Him with all your heart. And Jesus says, “If you don’t follow me, you will walk in darkness.” Verse 46 of John chapter 12 says, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”  

Now what does light do? Light reveals. It reveals what the darkness conceals. I couldn’t see you and you couldn’t see me if we did not have light in this room. And without light we can’t distinguish details. Without any light we would stumble, we would run into things, we would get hurt. Light enables us to see things that have been there all along, but that we were oblivious to because we were in darkness.

Well, Jesus has come to reveal God to us. When we were in darkness, we couldn’t see God. 2 Corinthians 4 tells us, “God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness . . .” Where did He say that? Genesis 1. That God “. . . has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God [where] in the face of Jesus Christ” (vv. 4, 6). The Light of the world.

The light doesn’t just reveal God to us, light reveals ourselves to us. It exposes our hearts—the sin, the hypocrisy, the motives, the things we wouldn’t be aware of in the inner recesses of our hearts if God didn’t shine the light of Jesus to show it to us. We can’t claim to be walking in the light if we’re living in darkness. 

The light of Jesus reveals the way that we should go. His Word is a lamp to our feet, and a light to our path. It gives us guidance. The light of Jesus reveals obstacles and pitfalls in the way. When you have light it’s easier to get where you’re going, right?

So light reveals. But light also energizes. You know living in Michigan, we have this permacloud here, right? And Michigan winters, long nights, short days. Do you start to feel sluggish during the winter? We look forward to spring coming when we will have more energy because there is more light.

There’s this connection between light and life. And you’ve heard the term “photosynthesis” which literally means “put together” synthesis, “by light” photo. Put together by light. Photosynthesis is that process used by plants to convert light energy, mostly from the sun, into chemical energy. I’ve just told you more than I know about this, but I love Google. That process of photosynthesis releases oxygen into the air for us to breathe. It supplies the energy that is necessary for all of life on earth to survive.

So the vitality of our life support system depends on plants and their photosynthesis, processing that light energy. Well, I don’t understand all that, and I don’t understand all this, but I know it’s true that as the Light of the world, Jesus is our life support system. He’s what gives us energy and life.

Light reveals. It energizes and it transforms darkness. It penetrates the darkness. It triumphs over darkness. It overcomes darkness.  Light dispels darkness. Light is more powerful than darkness and darkness has no power over light. When you turn on the light, darkness has to flee. And the darkness cannot put out the light when the light has been turned on.

Now for centuries, generations, millennia people have tried to extinguish the light of God’s Word and of Jesus the Light of the world. The Pharisees tried to extinguish His light. The Romans tried to extinguish the light. They tried to suppress the truth and people are still trying to do that today. But they could not extinguish His light. It’s an inextinguishable light—the light of the glory of God. And our culture cannot, try hard as it might, cannot put out the light of God and of Jesus.

Our world today is in moral and spiritual darkness. There’s injustice, oppression, hopelessness, despair, cruelty, moral insanity, hatred, broken lives, broken relationships, broken homes. There’s a lot of darkness. There’s darkness in our own hearts, isn’t there? Not just outside there, but within us? Things that other people don’t see and know? Some of the thoughts, the crevices of our hearts, we know there’s darkness there.

But Life has come into the world. His name is Jesus. And He lives in us, and that’s why He could say, “You are [now] the light of the world . . . let your light [What’s that light? It’s Jesus. Let it] shine before others, so that they may . . . give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14–16).

We read in Revelation chapter 1 about this lampstand that John saw in his vision. What is the lampstand? It’s the church, the church that is to be the light in the darkness. Paul says in Philippians 2 we are to be “children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life” (vv. 14–16).

God  has called us not just to survive in this world, but to be light that pushes back the darkness in your marriage, in your home, in your community, wherever you live and go in the supermarket, in the bank, in your workplace, God wants to shine the light of Jesus through us so that the darkness is pushed back.

  • Jesus is the Light of the world. 
  • He’s the “Star come out of Jacob” that we read about in Numbers 24:17. 
  • He’s the sun of righteousness risen with healing in His wings in Malachi 4:2. 
  • He’s the One that John saw in Revelation 1:16 whose face was like the sun shining in full strength. 
  • He’s the bright morning star we read about in Revelation 22:16. 
  • He’s the sunrise or the dayspring depending on your translation in Luke 1 that has visited us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death (vv. 78–79).

That sunrise, that dayspring visited us when He came to this earth. He penetrated the darkness. And one day He will return. There will be one final great sunrise. And then there will be no more sunrises. We read in Revelation 21 about the new Jerusalem. This city “has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb [the Lamb, the Light of the world] and [the] gates [of that city] will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there” (vv. 21–23).

Can you imagine it? No more darkness. No more night. No more artificial light. No more permacloud. But eternal brilliant glorious light. The Light of the world. His name is Jesus. And in the meantime, as we walk in this dark world, He lives in us. And He wants to shine through us to give this world a glimpse of who God is. He wants us to walk by that light, walk in that light. We no longer walk in darkness. We walk in light. God wants through us to shine the light of Jesus into this world.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been showing us how important it was for Jesus to say, “I am the Light of the world.” She’ll be right back. 

Jesus is the Light that reveals God to us. He is the Light that triumphs over darkness. And He is the Light that gives us energy and life.

The “Light of the world” is one of thirty-two names of Jesus we’re exploring in the current teaching series, “The Wonder of His Name.” We know that as you get to know the meaning behind these names, you’ll get to know Jesus Himself. Nothing matters more. The series will run through Christmas. As you focus on Jesus through the series, it will make this season even more meaningful.

Make sure you don’t miss an episode by subscribing to the Revive Our Hearts podcast. And did you also know you can subscribe to Seeking Him, Nancy’s one minute podcast? It’s a shot of conviction and encouragement each weekday. Get more details on both podcasts at ReviveOurHearts.com. That’s also where you can see a video clip of today’s teaching from Nancy. Again, the website is ReviveOurHearts.com.

When Jesus claimed to be the Good Shepherd, it was more. The people who heard it were well versed in the Old Testament, making His claim a very big deal. Find out why . . . tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts. Nancy is back to pray.

Nancy: We worship You, Lord Jesus, Light of the world, the Lamb who is the Lamp. And we see You today more brightly because we’ve been in Your Word. You have shone light into our hearts. But how we look forward to that day when there will be no more darkness, no more night. Only eternal, glorious, beautiful light. And as we anticipate that day, we worship You. We say by faith, “Come quickly Lord Jesus.” And all God’s people said, "Amen." 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to reflect the light Jesus to the world. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

Dawn Wilson, Lindsay Swartz, and Darla Wilkinson provided helpful research assistance for this series. 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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