12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”
14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”
19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”
“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.
21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”
22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”
23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”
25 “Who are you?” they asked.
“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.
Jesus uses the term “I am the light of the world.” 1st century Jews understood this term much differently then many of us do today.
In the Hebrew Bible, light had many meanings but none less important than that which would guide all the world to know the one true God and His ways. (Isa. 42:6; 49:6; 51:4; 60:3; etc.)
Remember that God’s plan for redeeming the world does not begin with the Gospels but in Genesis 12:1-3.
God’s plan was that Abraham’s descendants (i.e., Israel) would bring all the world to know God. How?
God formed a nation out of a band of slaves and gave them “the law” or Torah, which, among other things commanded the Israelites: (1) to have no poor among them (Deut.15:4); (2) they were to leave a portion of their fields unharvested, so that the poor could come and take food without having to beg (Lev. 19:9-10); (3) to care for the “alien” or immigrant (Deut. 10:18-19) as well as the widow and orphan (Exod. 22:21-24); and (4) to celebrate Jubilee, in which, all debts were forgiven and the land was granted sabbath rest. This was to be like anything the world had ever seen!
But how would the world see it?
God chose the perfect location for Israel as it connected all the major empires and trade routes of the day, so that all western cultures would encounter this nation, it’s God and His ways.
Yet, Israel fails. They do not clear this important trade route of other “might makes right”, materialistic cultures but, instead, adopt those cultures and treat God and religion as a means to fulfill their own desires.
Jesus takes this upon himself this term because he lives out the story of Israel, forms a new people of God and sends them out the four corners of the earth.
Biblical authors even go so far as to describe the church as “the body of Christ” (e.g., Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:20; Eph. 1:23ff). Why? Because we are to be Jesus in our own individual contexts.
Our Mission? Matt. 25:31-46 records Jesus saying that members of his church/body feed the hungry, welcome the stranger/immigrant, care for the poor/homeless and visit the sick & imprisoned.
How are we doing?
An estimated 35.5 million Americans are “food insecure” (i.e., they skip meals because they don’t have the resources for 3 meals a day). An estimated 12.6 million are children.
Worldwide, an estimated 6.7 billion people live on less than $2 a day.
Every minute, 20 children from around the world die from poverty related issues.
Jesus describes his kingdom as a feast for the poor (Luke 14:12-24), which echoes Isa. 55.
Yet, according to one study, more than 89% of church budgets are spent on buildings & staff.
However, to be fair, less than 6% of Christians tithe and they give an est. 2.58% of their income despite the fact that the estimated total income of American churchgoers alone is $5.2 trillion.
Now you may think it’s the “rich Christians” who need to get moving, but, did you know, that if you earn $25,000 a year, you are in the wealthiest 10% of the world!!! If you earn $50,000 you are in the top 1%. Who do you think God considers rich?
IF Christians tithed 10% (roughly $500 billion) and gave it away they could:
(1) Fund universal primary education for children in every 3rd world country (cost $6 billion);
(2) Bring clean water to nearly all of the world’s poor (cost $9 billion); and
(3) Provide basic health care and nutrition for every poor person in the world (cost $13 billion).
And we would still have roughly $470 billion in spare change! What would the world see then? The light of the world?
Please understand that Revolution does not exist to criticize the church but exists to call the church back to it’s mission by feeding the homeless and food insecure every Friday evening and to go out into the streets of Portsmouth beginning next month to bring food & water to the meth prostitutes, drug addicts and emotionally ill who wander the streets.
We hope and pray that all of the churches will join us. We pray that all churches everywhere stop placing mirrors around the light and, instead, shine it into the darkest areas of world.
May it be so.