Jesus: The One Who Lights Our Path
John 5:1-12 March 27, 2011
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!"
With one statement of childish wonder, Robert Louis Stevenson
summed up the life of the Lord. Jesus came into this world and
accomplished many great and miraculous wonders, yet His
primary purpose was to punch great gaping holes in the spiritual
darkness that shrouded this world. No wonder he is called The
Light of the World.
This morning we catch a glimpse of Jesus shining brightly. As we
continue our series on the “I AM” statements of Jesus, we are
going to tackle this one that usually gets turned around. In John
8 Jesus says, “I am the Light of the world, whoever follows me
will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.
When we talk about Jesus as the light of the world, we usually
move rather quickly to the command Jesus gave us to let our
light shine. Naturally, we then encourage one another to let our
faith shine through to reflect his glory. I’m going to do that today
but I also want to point out that this is really about him, first
As we look at this text today I want you to think about two
things. First, Jesus came to shed light on God. In a spiritually
dark world, he stood out as a beacon that drew people in. He was
the good news. When he stepped into a room it was as if the
lights suddenly went on and the people saw God. Second, as the
church and as individuals, our primary purpose is to carry his
light into the rest of the world.
Let me begin by saying that living In Darkness is No Fun!
Have you ever been to a haunted house? A few years ago I went to one at Lake Compounce in Bristol CT.
It was great. I took a group of teenagers and they were excited. Me, I was okay until we actually got ready
to go in. Once you stepped into the maze, you were surrounded by total darkness. We could see just enough
to make it really scary. The sounds, the shadows, the unknown raised your blood pressure a few points. I
was really scared even though I knew nothing would really harm me and that it was all make believe. But it
still affected me. That is what darkness does for most of us. So imagine living in a world filled with
The man in our text this morning wasn’t blind but he lived in a
world of darkness. He had been crippled for over thirty eight
years. His world consisted of begging at the gate day after day.
Every day it was the same thing. Hope had long gone out of his
He believed if he got to the pool as the spirit stirred the waters,
he could be healed. You could almost imagine him trying to drag
himself into the water in the early days. But how long can that
hope be sustained?
My friend June Deptulski had a stroke a week ago Thursday. She’s 46 years old, a lawyer and a pretty
active woman. When I saw her last Sunday she looked defeated. Her left side was paralyzed. The doctors
feel very good about her prognosis, but she had spent hours trying to move her arm and nothing happened.
She has a lot of faith but in the face of the present reality, that faith had shriveled up and begun to look
quite small. She had only been dealing with her infirmity for 72 hours. I can’t begin to imagine what the
man by the pool was thinking that day that Jesus showed up. His hope had long since escaped him.
What is worse is the fact that the Scriptures indicate that this
man was also very poor. The man was reduced to being a beggar
and most people had little to do with him. He was the kind of
man that was regarded as a nuisance. Most people would
probably cross the street rather than have to deal with him. But
not Jesus. You see, Jesus specialized in reaching out to those
that the world had given up on. You ever wonder why that is?
We get the answer if you read on in the text we looked at this
morning. Jesus says,
“My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working… Very truly I tell you, the Son
can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does
the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even
greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them
life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.
For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even
calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
In effect Jesus was reflecting the glory of God. So when he makes
the statement a little later, “I AM is the light of the world,” he is
declaring that God has come to bring hope and healing to the
world through him. The Pharisees were right. Jesus was claiming
equality with God.
David once said in Psalm 74 "The dark places of the earth are full
of the habitations of cruelty." He is saying that the dark places,
where people live in superstition and fear, places where God is
not known, those places are filled with cruelty, violence, and
In contrast to that Jesus says in Chapter 8 "I am the light of the
world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will
have the light of life." Scholars believe that Jesus made this
statement on the eve of the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles. In
order to fully understand the significance you need to know a
couple of things.
First, the festival was instituted to remind people of both God’s presence and his provisions during the 40
years that they wandered in the wilderness with Moses. Second, on the opening night of the celebration a
couple of giant Menorah or candelabras were erected in the temple, in the Court of the Women. Each was
reported to be 75 ft. tall, with huge bowls at the top. Each bowl held 10 gallons of oil. The wicks were
made from the old, no longer useable garments of the priests. Then with great pomp and ceremony the
bowls were lit.
Ancient accounts said that the light from these huge candelabra
literally lit up the streets of Jerusalem. At the end of the feast,
the lights were purposely put out. Why? because the Messiah had
not yet come.
Every Jewish person knew the significance of the menorahs. They
represented the presence of God among the Israelites in the
wilderness in the form of the Shekinah. It was this visible
presence of God in the form of a cloud by day and fire by night
that guided the children of Israel. And in their shadows, Jesus
declares “I AM” the light of the world. It is as if he is saying these
lights are nothing compared to what I bring.
As John puts it, “He came so that men may no longer walk in
darkness.” Jesus came to open our eyes to God’s healing and
saving presence among us. At that very moment Jesus spoke, it
is as if a light goes on to declare that God cares and he is here.
In Jesus’ ministry he sought out the lost and came to light the
pathway back to God. That is good news. It means that no matter
how much you have messed up your life, no matter what you’ve
done, or where you’ve been God still loves you. He wants you
to know his joy. If you have been living a life of darkness, he
wants to bring you out of it. He wants to give you a new life.
I want to tell you a story about a friend of mine. He is a great guy. He had a great life. He was married to a
wonderful woman. He had children, a fabulous career and was well respected. He was President of his
vocational society and bound for great things. He had a problem though. The pressure of his work was
getting to him. He started taking a drink now and then. Before long the cocktails were flowing more and
more frequently. In time they began affecting his work, his family life and even his self esteem. He needed
to have that drink to perform and yet, he started having little failures at work. Problems sprang up between
him and his wife. He was also fighting with the kids more. He told himself it wasn’t the drinking though.
That was under control. Well you know the rest of the story. His life really began to unravel and it ended
with an arrest and public humiliation.
He told me this story and then how one night Jesus saved his life. As he was wallowing in self pity,
embarrassed and feeling that his life was out of control, he said he went to a meeting of a group he belong
to and the speaker that day talked about AA. He said it was like the light went on. It was a slap in the face,
a cup of cold water being thrown on him. It was almost as if this had been a divine appointment set up, not
for the other 100 people in the room, but for him alone. He told me he left that meeting wondering if
someone knew and had set up that day to give him a message. The next day he called that speaker and they
set up a time to meet that afternoon. That night they went to his first AA meeting.
My friend told me that that night it was like a veil had been lifted from his eyes. He saw things more
clearly than ever before. He met Christ there, Jesus was his higher power, his authority. The Jesus he had
read about and heard about became real to him and opened his eyes and saved his life.
When Jesus said he was the light of life, we need to realize the
power in that statement. He is the light that points to God. God
can take any life regardless of how that life has been ruined by
sin, no matter how much we have messed it up and he saves it
by His grace and turns it into a thing of endless blessing and joy!
That is what Jesus did with that man sitting by the pool that day.
He gave him his life back. He connected him to God.
You’ve probably heard this cute illustration but it bears repeating
because it illustrates what God does for us.
Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin. God lifts you up, takes you in, and washes all the dirt off of you.
He opens you up, touches you deep inside and scoops out all the yucky stuff-- including the seeds of doubt,
hate, greed, etc. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside you to shine for all the
world to see.
Have you ever thought of yourself as a pumpkin before? I’ll bet
some of you never thought of yourself as being so precious to
God that he would do anything to have you with him for eternity?
Well that’s the good news we hear from this text today. The man
living in darkness, without hope, was going to be brought out into
the light, so he could see the world in a new way. And Jesus
wants to do the same thing for you and me.
Now, you may be thinking, “I believe in Jesus but I don’t know if
I have that kind of faith.” Well, here is the good news. Our
growth develops over time. Look at this man. He went through a
change in perception about what happened and who did it over
the next few days. All he knew was that it was some fellow
named Jesus. It could have been any of a thousand men, just
some guy named Jesus.
A lot of people are standing where he stood today. All they know
is that Christians get all excited about some fellow named Jesus.
But, just knowing a little about Jesus, or being able to speak His
name is not enough to save you.
A little later Jesus meets up with him gain and Jesus tells him to
give thanks and to glorify God. In other words, worship the Lord.
When all is said and done, he sees Jesus as one who is worthy of
faith and worship. He sees Him for who He truly is!
This man was not theologian, but he knew what had happened to
him personally! He couldn't explain what had happened, but he
knew that he had met someone who had the power to make an
eternal difference in his life. When he looked at where he had
been and what Jesus had done in his life, he was more than a
This is true in the life of every child of God. If you are saved by
the grace of God, you will know it and you will never get over it! I
believe that the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ is
something to get excited about, don't you?
So let his light shine in you, so that others may know his name.
I want to tell you the rest of the story of my friend I mentioned
earlier. He took me out to lunch to tell his story. In doing so he
wanted me to know that he was willing to talk to others who were
lost and troubled. Jesus had turned a light on in him and he
wanted to reach into that same darkness others were
experiencing and turn on the light of God’s loves in them.
That is what we are all called to as a church. So let’s go out there
and start punching holes in the darkness so that the world may
know that God loves them. Amen.