Monday, October 17, 2016

Light of the World

artwork by Krista Hamrick

It is so energizing and exciting to participate in #Write31days, an online writing challenge where writers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day in the month of October. Within the #Write31days category of Inspiration & Faith, I chose to focus on the topic of the Name Above All Names every day for 31 days. You can view each of my daily posts at this landing page.

Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Name Above All Names Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 individual Names she has identified are so special, as Krista has intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows, each one with its Scripture reference.

My heart has been drawn to do a word study for each of the names included in her art print. Krista and I felt led to publish our Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ available on Amazon at this link.

I was inspired by Phillips, Craig, and Dean's anointed hymn, Here I Am To Worship, while studying John 8:12

NASB: Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

Amplified: Once more Jesus addressed the crowd. He said, I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the Light which is Life.

Later, Jesus talked to the people again, saying, “I am the light of the world [the Feast of Shelters included a lamp lighting ritual that Jesus may be alluding to; 7:37–39]. The person who follows me will never ·live [walk] in darkness but will have the light ·that gives life [of life]."

J. B. Phillips: Later, Jesus spoke to the people again and said, “I am the light of the world. The man who follows me will never walk in the dark but will live his life in the light.”

Living Bible:
Later, in one of his talks, Jesus said to the people, “I am the Light of the world. So if you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, for living light will flood your path.”

The Message: Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.”

The Voice: On another occasion, Jesus spoke to the crowds again. Jesus: I am the light that shines through the cosmos; if you walk with Me, you will thrive in the nourishing light that gives life and will not know darkness.

Pastor John MacArthur writes: "In John's gospel, Jesus makes a claim, He says He's God, He claims to be Messiah and men react ninety-nine percent of the time violently. In this passage we see the very same thing, only it's a fresh new beautiful look at Jesus Christ. In this one Christ makes the same claims using a different metaphor and then we see the reaction again and how Christ meets that. So we come again to a direct confrontation between the claims of Christ and the reaction of men who heard those claims. This particular claim of Jesus is no different than His others, but He couches it in the phrase, "I am the light of the world."
There's no question about the fact that we live in a dark world. I'm talking about the darkness that settles on the soul of men, I'm talking about a moral darkness. Man is by his own appetites and his own passions pushing himself further and further into that darkness for man's passions and appetites tell him to seek the good life where the good life isn't found. Jesus said there is light. He said I am that light. We have proclaimed that light, it's in the Word of God. God's written it in the hearts of men, there's light. Jesus is that light. And that's the message of this passage, that Jesus is the light of the world. For those who are willing to come to Him, He's there, but it's going to demand that you be exposed. You see, before you can ever come to Jesus Christ to find the light, to receive Jesus Christ as Savior, the light's going to turn on bright and show you what you are. That's why repentance comes before salvation, at the very beginning. First we repent and then God redeems us supernaturally. You've got to be aware of what you are. Jesus is the light. Why is He called light? To the darkness of falsehood He is the light of truth. To the darkness of ignorance He is the light of wisdom. To the darkness of impurity He is the light of holiness. To the darkness of sorrow He is the light of joy. To the darkness of death He's the light of life. He is called light because the world is dark and the antithesis of darkness is light. He is everything the world isn't. Jesus is saying nothing more and nothing less at this point than I am your Messiah. He was not only claiming to be Messiah, He was claiming to be God. The psalmist said this, "The Lord is my light." And when Jesus said I am the light He was saying I'm God. That's quite a claim. When Jesus came along and said, "I am light," He was claiming, number one, to be Messiah, number two, to be God. Same claim, just different metaphor. He used so many different ways to say the same thing."

Pastor John MacArthur continues: "Why does Jesus particularly choose this metaphor? When He said "I am the light of the world" He said the most devastating dramatic thing, it's just unbelievable. Now the feast of tabernacles had just concluded. It was seven days long. It was a yearly thing and it was to commemorate the wandering of Israel in the wilderness. Remember the 40 years they wandered? This was a commemoration feast of that to keep them to remember that God had blessed them during those 40 years. In the evening this ritual took place and the illumination of the temple ritual was to commemorate, mark it, the light in the wilderness that had led Israel. Now you remember that during the day they were led by a light that looked like a cloud. And at night they were led by a pillar of fire, flaming light in the sky. They had been led by light in the daytime, the light as like a cloud moving through the sky. They were led at night by a flaming light, the pillar of fire. To commemorate the light that led them, they had this ceremony called the illumination of the temple which commemorated the light that led Israel in the Old Testament. They had this ceremony in the Court of the Women, that's why Jesus is there. That's why He went there to say, "I'm the light of the world." In the middle of the Court of the Women they erected giant candelabras, gigantic massive things with a multiplicity of lights that reflected up. And at night, in the evening, they would light all those candelabras and that light would just stream out of the top of that courtyard and flood the city of Jerusalem. In fact, the rabbis used to say that every courtyard in Jerusalem was lit all night, like a brilliant diamond flashing its light over the entire city of Jerusalem, the light just came pouring out of the top of that temple courtyard in the Court of the Women they did it. And they actually had places where people could sit around it. At the same time it was the noisiest celebration of the feast because everybody sang and they sang certain Psalms and they had certain dancing that they did and all this noise went on all night long while this light kept burning. And that light was to commemorate the light in the wilderness. Now that you have it in your mind, has it become reasonable to see what Jesus was doing? He walks into the Court of the Women and the light is long out cause the feast ended the day before, but sitting in the middle of that place is this gigantic candelabra. Jesus steps into the middle of this courtyard where there's nothing on their minds perhaps any more significant than seeing this candelabra and remembering the great illumination of Jerusalem. And they walk in there and they see that candelabra and Jesus steps up beside that candelabra and undoubtedly with some gesture says, "I am the light of the world." What a dramatic statement. For in their minds they would be remembering a light in Jerusalem that commemorated a light that led Israel. But Jesus says, "Yes, you remember the light last night in the temple here which made you remember the light that led Israel...I am the light of the world." Now do you see the significance of that statement? Talk about dramatics, Jesus was the master. He took that scene and made it so dynamic and so dramatic, He must have stunned them. You saw a light that lit Jerusalem, you celebrate a light that lit the wilderness, I am the light of the world. What a statement."

Pastor John MacArthur concludes: "Then He says an interesting thing, He says, "He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness but shall of the light of life." Some lights don't go anywhere. They just hang there, most lights. You don't say...follow the light. Well, how do you follow the light, it's just there? There was one light that moved, it wasn't the light in the temple that commemorated it but it was the light in Israel, wasn't it, in the wilderness. Did it move? It moved every night and it moved every day, didn't it? And what did they do? They followed it, didn't they? Jesus says you're remembering that light that moved Israel around, follow Me...follow Me, I'm a light that's moving, too. You know, when you follow Jesus Christ you don't sit around. "I'm following You, Lord." This light moves. You better be ready to move. And you better be ready to go where that light takes you. And if you follow Him you'll never walk in darkness...never walk in darkness, just follow the light. What does it mean to follow Him? When we say to follow something what are we talking about? What does it mean to follow Christ? The word "follow" here in verse 12 is interesting, it has many meanings but it basically translates to follow. It's not burdensome to follow to Christ, is it? I mean, it's just like through green pastures, you know, beside still waters. That's how my Shepherd leads me. That's not burdensome. I tell you, once you get to following Jesus Christ, you don't look for any other leaders, do you? I don't want another shepherd.”

Think of our Savior: Jesus is the Light of the World, our Counselor, our Good Shepherd. Prayerfully studying and meditating on the character traits and names of God is one of the most faith-building, encouraging things you can do for your spiritual life. It will dispel your anxiety and boost your faith. It will enable you to trust God more. Knowing the true character of God will renew and transform your mind with the truth, dissolve doubt, and breathe life into your soul. Saying aloud the attributes of the Lord and thinking about how you’ve experienced different aspects of His character can be a powerful act of worship. Ask God to reveal Himself to you in greater clarity than you’ve ever experienced before. The Light of the world draws you to our heavenly Father. It reveals your need for something and Someone greater than yourself, just as it did when the light blinded Paul physically but opened his spiritual eyes to the truth. It is that light that illuminates God’s Word and gives you wisdom that comes from above. It is the light that calls you by name and tells you that you are precious to the Savior. No one can withstand the unbridled light of God, but in heaven we will bask in it. Praise God for the light that guides us, but worship Him as the Light of the world.

Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your truth, Your Word, for what we've learned. God, I thank You for Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. May He become more real, more precious to us each moment. God, we pray that the Light of Christ might shed upon some heart today. Lord Jesus, thank You for being a light to reveal God to the nations so that more people can know and worship our Father. Thank You for bringing us out of darkness and into Your marvelous light. I want to shine Your light everywhere I go so that everyone around me will be drawn to You. In Your mighty Name Above All Names—Light of the world, we pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on John 8:12  pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on 
John 8:12 pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on 
John 8:12 pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.

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