The People Walking in Darkness Have Seen A Great Light - A Purifying Light

Sermon Summary 

This message looks at the light Jesus brought into the world and the purifying qualities of this light. Last weeks message examined how the light Jesus brought into the world was a piercing light that revealed our sinfulness and shortcomings, so without the purifying and cleansing qualities of His light we would be left without hope. Isaiah had long ago prophesied that the people walking in darkness would see a great light and that light would be the light of the Messiah, the Christ, the Servant of God. Jesus fulfilled the role of this Servant of God specifically by becoming the Suffering Servant spoken of in the servant songs of Isaiah. He did this in order to provide a way for us to be purified and cleansed from our sin.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. It's almost Christmas and when we think of the word Christmas it's very natural to connect Christmas with lights! We light up our houses with lights, our Christmas Trees, and I have even begun to see cars with Christmas lights. What is your favorite memory of Christmas lights?

2. Many people will see Christmas lights this year but will have no clue how Jesus, who is the Christ of Christmas, brought light to a world of darkness. Why do you think so many have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas?

John 1:9  The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
John 1:10  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

3. Jesus came into the world to shine the light of justice. This light exposed the injustices of the world, political, religious and otherwise. But Jesus brought a purifying light that would bring about justification to all who would accept that light and allow it to cleanse them. In order to shine this purifying light of justice, Jesus had to die an unjust death for sins that were not His own. So when Jesus was falsely accused of wrongdoing He did not open His mouth in His own defense. Discuss why Jesus would do such a thing, and what it means for those who put their trust in Him.

Isa 53:5  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isa 53:6  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.


4. The purifying light of Jesus brings freedom and peace to any and all who are willing to allow that piercing light to also be a purifying light. On the night of Jesus' birth the angel told the shepherds that a Savior had been born in the town of David. At that time other heavenly host joined the angel and said "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." Read the following passage and discuss how a person can have the favor of God rest upon them and bring them peace.

1 John 1:7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:8  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.


Full Sermon Notes

A Purifying Light

"I've heard a thousand stories of what they think You're like." Jesus came to shine the light on just what Father God is like, and that light was many things and last week we talked about how that light was a piercing light. It pierces the darkness and exposes things in our lives that need to be changed. In fact, the verse that inspired this series of messages is found in Isaiah.

Isaiah 9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

Today we will examine the glorious attribute of Jesus' light that purifies. Without the purifying qualities of that light we would be without hope. But we have a blessed hope because of the light that shone brightly that first Christmas. Let's pray and ask God to shine His purifying light on our lives today.
Pray!

Today we return to Isaiah's amazing writings. He spoke to the situations and circumstances of his day, but his words were also meant for a people who would live many centuries later, you and me! I am continually amazed at how Scripture speaks to our realities today!! The words Isaiah spoke certainly had meaning for the people of his day. He spoke of the servant of the Lord. Who was this servant of the Lord? In the Old Testament the ones most often associated as servants of the Lord are Abraham, Jacob, Moses and David. There are times when the reference is to the nation of Israel as a whole. Many scholars, though, believe the reference is to an individual. There are four sections of Isaiah that are considered servant songs. Because of the things this individual would suffer he became known as the "Suffering Servant." Jewish people have long debated on who this servant was. Some thought it might have been Isaiah himself because of the way he suffered as a prophet of God. However, many Jewish teachers began to see the servant of the Lord as the coming Messiah. But when they would do this they would leave out the suffering parts because they just couldn't imagine the Messiah or King of Israel having anything to do with suffering. You just don't normally think of a King suffering or living as an outcast. So the debate concerning the identity of the servant of the Lord has been intense down through the years.

One commentator put it this way...

"No single individual can be found, prior to Christ, who fits the description of the servant in any of the Servant Songs."

It's fascinating that back in the Bible days, it was not just the Jewish people who were trying to figure out who the suffering servant was! Check this out…

Acts 8:26  Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road--the desert road--that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza."
Acts 8:27  So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship,
Acts 8:28  and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet.
Acts 8:29  The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."
Acts 8:30  Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked.
Acts 8:31  "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
Acts 8:32  The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
Acts 8:33  In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth."
Acts 8:34  The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?"
Acts 8:35  Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
Acts 8:36  As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?"
Acts 8:37 (See note below)
Acts 8:38  And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.
Acts 8:39  When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.

(Acts 8:37 is left out of the NIV because it is not found in earlier manuscripts and was thought to be added later. Here's what it says in the King James Version...Acts 8:37  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.)

Why do I bring up this about the suffering servant? Because Jesus could have come into this world and simply brought a piercing light! He could have come and shone a great light to the people walking in darkness and lived that perfect, righteous, holy and perfect life to show us how it was to be done and to expose just how sadly we had missed the mark! He could have simply highlight how far we had fallen from God's intended purposes for our lives. He could have preached a message to the masses of what could have been had they not sinned and blown it! He could have then ascended back to heaven and left the people walking in darkness and simply talking about how great that light was: "It was perfect, beautiful, revealing & piercing." He could have left them, and us, without any hope, just convicted, guilty as charged, filthy, broken, and forever lost! But He didn't do that. He was a suffering servant who carried that piercing light all the way to the cross on a hill called calvary, and there that piercing light became a purifying light. Let's read our text, written some 700 plus years before Jesus was ever born...

Isa 42:1  "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.

The Servant was Chosen to Be a Purifying Light!

Check this out in the New Testament concerning the beginning of Jesus' ministry...

Luke 3:21  When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened
Luke 3:22  and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."
Luke 3:23  Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli,

Of course, Joseph knew, Mary knew, and we know that Jesus was the Son of God! He was the Servant of the Lord chosen to shine the purifying light of God into a darkened world. A world where wickedness and injustice reigned. However, our text says...

Isa 42:1  "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.
Isa 42:2  He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.
Isa 42:3  A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;

The Servant was a Purifying Light of Justice!

In the days when Jesus came to the earth, injustice was not only a political problem, it was also a religious problem. The religious leaders were using the letter of the law to condemn people and to control them. Listen to this example...

Mat 12:9  Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue,
Mat 12:10  and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"
Mat 12:11  He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?
Mat 12:12  How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
Mat 12:13  Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.
Mat 12:14  But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
Mat 12:15  Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick,
Mat 12:16  warning them not to tell who he was.
Mat 12:17  This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
Mat 12:18  "Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
Mat 12:19  He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets.
Mat 12:20  A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory.
Mat 12:21  In his name the nations will put their hope."

God had wanted the nation of Israel to be His servant! They were His chosen people! But over and over again they rejected their mission to be God's messengers and vessels of justice to the world. You can see how the very religious leaders who were supposed to be leading the people of God to be the people of God, had become hypocritical and mean spirited. And as we saw last week, Jesus shined a piercing light upon that hypocrisy. However, He wanted to shine a purifying light on anyone who was willing to repent of their sins and allow the true light of God to cleanse them. In order to do that, Jesus would have to become a suffering servant. He would have to become sacrificial lamb. He would have to give His life in order to purify us! Now let me point out something amazing to you about this passage, our text from Isaiah, which Matthew quoted in reference to Jesus. When it says "He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets," what does this mean? The Hebrew verb Tsa'aq, "cry out" is most often used to mean the weak crying out to the strong for help. Commentator Page H. Kelly says...

"In most instances it describes the oppressed crying out to God for relief."

But our text says that the suffering servant will not do that! Remember the portion of Isaiah the eunuch was reading when Phillip talked to him?

Acts 8:32  The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
Acts 8:33  In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth."

Jesus could have demanded justice for Himself, but He did not! When He was arrested and falsely accused, He did not defend Himself because He had come for the very purpose of gaining justice for us! He had come to bring us peace! He had come to shine a purifying light into our lives and the only way to do this was to become the sacrifice for our sin, our impurities.

Isa 53:5  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isa 53:6  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

In fact, listen to what happened when Jesus was before Pilate...

Mat 27:11  Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.
Mat 27:12  When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer.
Mat 27:13  Then Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?"
Mat 27:14  But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge--to the great amazement of the governor.

Why would Jesus not defend Himself? Come on Jesus, they are going to kill you if you don't defend yourself! But, He had not come to defend Himself, He had come to offer a sacrifice that could purify you and me! You see we could never be good enough to purify ourselves. Jesus knew that. In fact, listen to the words of Isaiah again...

Isa 42:3  A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;

What was Isaiah talking about. The bruised reed and the smoldering wick, was a reference to those who were trying to live for God, seeking to do His will, attempting to follow God's principles with a pure heart, but who knew they were not perfect and had issues. For those people, not the self-righteous, prideful and arrogant, but for the humble, Jesus would become their righteousness. He had not come into the world to condemn the world but to save the world. The religious leaders loved to point out peoples impurities and act like they didn't have any. Jesus loved to offer forgiveness and purification for those who could never purify themselves. In fact, Isaiah goes on to say of the Suffering Servant of The Lord...

Isa 42:4  he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope."
Isa 42:5  This is what God the LORD says-- he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:
Isa 42:6  "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,
Isa 42:7  to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

The Servant was a Purifying Light of Freedom and Peace

Isn't it amazing the freedom and peace that comes into your life once you make the decision to trust Jesus to be your Savior, your righteousness, and your purifying light? Paul wrote some powerful words to his friend Titus which sums up everything we've talked about today! Listen...

Titus 2:11  For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.
Titus 2:12  It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,
Titus 2:13  while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Titus 2:14  who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Titus 2:15  These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.
Titus 3:1  Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,
Titus 3:2  to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.
Titus 3:3  At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
Titus 3:4  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
Titus 3:5  he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
Titus 3:6  whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Titus 3:7  so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Now we can understand more fully what was meant when the angles appeared to the shepherds on that first Christmas night and said...

Luke 2:8  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
Luke 2:9  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Luke 2:10  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Luke 2:11  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:12  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Luke 2:13  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
Luke 2:14  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

Hmmm, it says "and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests!" How do you get to be one of those people? A person on whom the favor of God rest! It's simple really. John puts it this way...

1 John 1:7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:8  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Let's pray!