CHRISTIAN: YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
The most important question that you will ever be asked is this: “Who is Jesus to you?” All other questions can have significant outcomes – who will you marry? Where will you work? When will you retire? But there is only one question that will determine where you spend eternity; and all other questions really slink into the shadows when set against this Great Question, “Who is Jesus to you?”
This stands out profoundly in our text for tonight, so I will ask you to turn with me to Luke 2. I read these verses last week, but I feel it would be good to cover Simeon’s sayings this week, because they have a powerful message for us.
Let’s read together from Luke 2:25-35.
In our text tonight we find a man named Simeon. As we said last week, all we know about Simeon is what we find in these verses. Through the centuries, different scholars have come up with theories on who he was.
Because of his words and actions they have pictured him to be very old and very priestly. In fact, from the 15th century on, artworks have pictured him in high-priestly garb. And I read this last week that there are a number of academics who believe that he was one of the 70 scholars who translated the Septuagint, making him over 200 years old at this point, kept alive supernaturally in order to hold the baby Jesus in his arms before dying.
But these theories are unsubstantiated. The text doesn’t tell us that he was old; he may have been fairly young. The text doesn’t tell us that he was a priest, or an elder or expert in the law, or even a rabbi. It would seem in fact that he was an ordinary man – a farmer or fisherman or shop-keeper, an ordinary man who loved the Lord and sought after Him with all his heart, an ordinary man who was filled with and led by the Spirit of God.
Last week I said that we ought to be Simeons – seeking the Lord our God with all our hearts.
This week I want to focus in on what Simeon said.
So let’s take another look at what he said
Look at Simeon’s descriptions of Jesus? Simeon calls Jesus
God’s salvation and a light for revelation
The cause of falling and rising of many
A sign that will be spoken against
And a revealer of hearts
Let’s look at these in more detail.
JESUS: THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
Jesus is God’s salvation. He is a light for revelation. Before the time of Jesus, the world was in complete darkness. And that darkness is a symbol of ignorance, sin and misery.
In John 8:12 Jesus calls Himself the light of the world. And these descriptions really come from the Old Testament. Isaiah prophesied a few times about the coming Messiah using this picture of Him being a light.
Isaiah 9:2 “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.”
Isaiah 49:6 “He says, ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
In a sense, the world was as dark as it could be. Which makes sense. 1 John 1 tells us that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. So when He created the world He created it perfectly, with no darkness of sin in it at all.
But when sin entered the world, that sin separated man from their perfect Creator.
Not to worry! God gave His people instructions, and if those instructions were followed perfectly, from conception to death, then they would be sort-of on the right track. But their original sin would still need to be atoned for.
So it was a hopeless case. The world was covered in this darkness, which as we said was a symbol of ignorance, sin and misery.
And then came Jesus. Jesus was the light of salvation, the light that would show, or reveal, the way to God, for those who were lost in darkness.
That’s who Jesus is. That’s one of the awesome things that Jesus came to do.
But I want you to know that not everyone like to be shown the light. Not everyone likes the light.
I heard an awesome story a few years ago, and I’ll recount it to you here.
Once upon a time there lived two families in a small village. The one family was called the Joneses, and the other family were the Smiths.
Now the Joneses and the Smiths had lived next to each other for generations. But this was an exciting generation. They’d heard a rumour that electricity was coming to their village. And this electricity would do lots of things, but one of the things it would do is it would be like pretend candles, it would give light without wax.
Both the Joneses and the Smiths were very excited about this news, and eagerly anticipated its coming. They both called for electricians and had the electricians wire up their houses, put in light bulbs and switches. All that remained was for their houses to be connected to the main line and they would have this new kind of light.
The big day came, and because the Joneses had been more industrious, their house was connected first.
The whole village came to see this new thing. There was a party out on the lawn outside the house. And as night draw near, the families of the village crowded into the Joneses little lounge.
The father of the Joneses made a little speech, and the prepared to flip the switch to show people what electricity could do.
As he flipped the switch the bulb lit up and the room was illuminated as it had never been before. Candles cast big shadows, but this bulb lit up everything.
At first there was a general buzz of excitement and awe. People couldn’t believe that this was happening.
But then people started looking around. The Joneses were dismayed to see how dirty the cupboard doors were. And the table was covered in a thin layer of grime. The corners had never been properly dusted because up until right then they had always been dark corners.
As the excitement died down, the families of the valley went home.
The next morning, the Joneses were up early. They got out their scrubbing brushes and soap and set to cleaning that house as it had never been cleaned before. They worked tirelessly all day, making sure to switch the light on frequently to make sure that they’d gotten every spot of dirt out.
Meanwhile, the Smiths woke up the next morning, called the electrician, and asked him to take out the electrical wiring. They would never ever allow that much light in their lives and so be embarrassed.
Not everyone likes the light. In fact, some people hate the light. Let me read you a passage from John 3:14-21 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
Not everyone likes the light. That’s why Simeon also says that Jesus will be a ‘sign that will be spoken against’. Why? Because by Him, ‘the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.’ Because His light reveals men’s hearts.
When people come to Jesus, not just their actions but even more so their hearts are opened up and revealed for what they are.
I would submit to you that this is one of the main reasons many of us struggle to have quiet times. Because quiet times are not just about reading the Bible, though reading the Bible is good.
But quiet times are about submitting our hearts to God’s examination and allowing Him to point out the areas where we are wrong. And we don’t like that. It’s uncomfortable, it’s painful sometimes.
Jesus came to reveal the hearts of people. But I want to encourage you tonight. The Bible says that those who would come to God, though He wounds them, He will heal them too.
Hosea 6:1, 3 “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds…Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
Job 5:17-27 [Read]
So Jesus came to be the light of the world.
CHRISTIAN: YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
But I want you to recognise something else tonight. Do you know that God has called us as Christians to be the light of the world?
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
I was working through these verses this week. And something God pointed out to me is that this ‘light’ that we are is not just ‘light’. I think it’s a very new-age-y kind of idea to think that we have light inside of us and we just gotta let the goodness of ourselves shine out.
That’s sometimes how we understand this passage. There’s some soft goodness inside of us that we gotta let shine out.
But when Jesus says that we, His followers, are the light of the world, and that we should let our light shine before men, He’s not talking about our soft-gooey centre.
No, the light in us is God in us. Jesus tells us in other places that if we belong to Him, He will come and make His home in us. He is the light in us. We need to submit ourselves more and more to His leading, His guiding, His commanding. We need to let Him shine through us that all men might see Him in us, and praise our Father in heaven.
You see, if they see you, or if they see me and our good deeds, then they will praise us for our good deeds. It’s like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day who fasted and prayed publicly to receive the praise and glory of the crowds.
But if we allow Jesus to grow and shine brightly in our own hearts, He will grow and shine brightly through us, and He will cause all people to glorify our Father in heaven.
So we are also the light of the world. God is calling us to be His light in our places of influence: light in our homes, light in our relationships, light in our workplaces, light in our classrooms, light in our marriages, light on the roads, light in the streets.
God has called us as His followers to be His light in the world.
Do you let God shine through you so brightly that people see you and glorify God? Is that a characteristic of your life, child of God? Are you marked by godliness?
Maybe you’re not. But you want to be? Well I can say this. Let God imprint on your heart. [Repeat that].
When Moses went up onto the hill to be in the presence of God, the Bible says that he came down and his face was shining. There was light emanating from his face.
Over time the light from his face would fade, but when he went back into the presence of God his face was lit up again.
If you want your light to shine brightly before others, if that’s a desire of your heart; don’t try and do more good stuff. Then people will see your good deeds and praise you. But if you want to show the glory and the power and the love of God through your life, allow God to imprint on your heart. Go and be with Him and allow Him to imprint on your heart.
I promise, people will recognise when you’ve been with God. They will see a change.
I want to say one more thing before I close tonight.
Just as people did not like the light of Jesus, so they will not always accept and like the light of Jesus in us.
John 15:18-20 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”
If people did not always accept the light of Jesus, they will not always accept the light of Jesus in us.
Why? For the same reason that they didn’t like the light of Jesus. Jesus reveals the true thoughts and intentions of the hearts.
This last Friday night I was speaking to one of our youth guys about this topic. And he told me a story about something that happened to him a few days ago at school.
He was standing with a friend of his, and had kind of faded out thinking about different things. And a really good looking girl walked past. So his friend nudged him with a big smile on his face and said, ‘Hey, you think that chick’s hot??’
Now this young friend of mine is a wonderful heart for the Lord, even at such a young age, and so he looked at the girl, and then back at his friend and said, ‘Well, yeah, she’s nice. She’s really pretty.’
Then his friend asked him, ‘Would you sleep with her?’ (But using more rough language).
This young friend of mine turned to his friend and said, ‘I used to think like that, and talk like that, but I don’t anymore. It’s not good to talk about a girl like that.’
His friend was stumped. I don’t know what happened in the conversation after this.
But you know what this young friend of mine did in that exchange. He was a light that revealed the true heart of his friend. Maybe that friend was just thinking, ‘Ah, let’s just talk about that girl.’ But when my young friend spoke, he brought light into the conversation. He revealed his friends heart, and showed that his heart’s thoughts were dark and dirty.
Now what would his friend do? Would his friend recognise that his heart needs to change? Will he accept the light that my friend shone? Or would he reject it, would he reject the light, reject the message, and go and try that same conversation again with someone else?
Those who receive and accept the light of God coming through us will rise to life. And those who reject and despise the light of God coming through us will fall.
Do you recognise the responsibility you have, child of God? Do you recognise your responsibility in your home, at work, or at school?
People may accept or reject us. But let’s be the light of the world. I’ll close with these verses from:
2 Corinthians 2:14-16 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?’
God appoints us, as He appointed Jesus, to cause the falling and rising of many, to be a challenge, a crossroads, to others. Are you ready for that responsibility? Are you ready to challenge those around you and draw them to Jesus and to life?