I have been given this text to read as one of the lessons in a community carol’s night organised by our resident’s association. The first question I asked when I had the text was “what has this got to do with Christmas?
However, reading and pondering the text, it is as relevant as any other account of the birth of Christ in the gospels. If you are familiar with Genesis 3, that is where the fall occurred; sin entered the world and thus all of humankind became sinners.
In Genesis 3 also, God announced his redemptive plan for salvation. In that pronouncement, Christ—the seed of the woman was revealed. The seed of the woman shall bruise Satan’s head, and Satan his heel.” (Genesis 3:15). Theologians call this (v.15) protoevangelium; that is, the first gospel. The bruising of the heel of the seed of the woman paints a picture of the passion of Christ and bruising the head of the Serpent is the victory Christ won over the devil in his Crucifixion (1Corinthians 2:8; Colossians 2:14-15).
The point is that Christ’s incarnation which we celebrate as Christmas was for the purpose of destroying the work of the devil and deliver sinners from bondage (1John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14-15). This is why we celebrate Christmas: the ‘seed of the woman’, prophesied in Genesis 3:15 was born to bring hope to a dark dying world burdened with sin. Of course, we know the date of his birth is only commemorative, but he was born and the importance of the season is that his birth was God’s plan from the beginning by which he will reconcile sinners to God.
Genesis 3:8-15 has everything to do with Christmas. The deliverer from sin and destroyer of Satan’s work was revealed.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Light dispels darkness. Where there is light, darkness cannot be present. Metaphorically, Christ speaks of himself as the light of the world. This points us to the fact that there is darkness in the world. He goes on again to say whoever follows him will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of the world. This also means is anyone not following Christ is in the darkness which is in the world. Again, anyone who follows him has come out of the darkness of the world.
Here we see a contrast between light and darkness.
Now the ” I am the light of the world” is one of a number of “I am” statements by Jesus Christ recorded in John’s gospel. These “I am” statements are not a simple first person pronoun usage; rather, they point us to Christ’s divine identity and his saving relationship with sinners in a fallen world (John 4:26; 6:20; 8:28, 28, 58; 18:5). You may also be familiar with some of these specific metaphorical rendering of the “I am” statements: “I am the bread of life, the door of the sheep, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way, the truth, and the life and the true vine (John 6:35; 48, 51; 10:7; 11; 14, 11:25; 14:6; 15).
All these words were spoken in various contexts where they addressed specific needs ultimately pointing to our need of a Saviour. “I am the light of the world” is an identification with divinity –Jesus is God— which we can trace back to John’s prologue : “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it … The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:4-5, 9).
Now if Jesus says he is the light of the world, it means that;
The World Is In Darkness.
Darkness here depicts a world of sin and ignorance; lack of knowledge of God. Darkness contrasting with light is the realm of evil; the kingdom of darkness. The whole world, Jesus said lies in wickedness (1John 5:19). In the beginning, God created a perfect world and he saw that all he made was good (Genesis 1:31). However, this perfect world was plunged into sin when Adam disobeyed God’s command subsequently inflicting the world with sin causing a separation between God and man (Romans 3:23). This darkness is a universal darkness. Every human being is affected by the effects of this dark sinful world. It is called total depravity. We are all badly hurt by the sin problem
Life Without Christ Is A Life of Darkness.
If the world is in darkness, it follows that everyone who enters it enters a world of darkness–filled with sin and ignorance of a knowledge of God. We all enter the world corrupted by a sin nature. Burk Parson in a sermon notes that “we enter the world dead on arrival.” Further, there is a kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan and any person who enters the world is automatically under the bondage of Satan and until they come to faith in Christ, they are doomed for destruction and under Satan’s rule. Paul says this clearly when he described the former world of the believer which is the present world or reality of the unbeliever. They are dead in trespasses and sins. They are following the course of the dark world which is sin and bondage under Satan’s rule (Eph 2:1-3).
If you don’t know Christ and have no relationship with him as your Lord and Saviour, this is your world. You are dead in sin and living in darkness.
Life With Christ Is A Life of Light.
Where light is, darkness gives way. Because Jesus is the light of the world, the darkness of the world must give way. So if a person walking in darkness encounters Christ and comes to saving faith in him; they are rescued from darkness and brought into the light; the light of the world, Christ Jesus. Just as darkness depicts sin and ignorance, light represents righteousness and life. When we come to Christ who is the light of the world, our dark; sinful and ignorant life is illuminated with light, which is the life of men.
All human beings are in bondage to sin until they come to faith in Christ. Are you burdened with sin? Are you heavy laden with guilt? Christ calls you to come into his life. He will forgive you of your sins and bring life into your dark world. Come; Christ calls
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him (Hebrews 5:9).
The text is speaking about Christ. Indeed, the whole of the book of Hebrews speaks of Christ and his superiority over all things. Christ offers salvation and eternal life. But one may ask, why Salvation?
Salvation is needed because of humanity’s sin problem. We trace the sin problem to Eden where the fall of Adam became the fall of the whole human race. The image of God, in which we were created was defaced. We are alienated from God because of sin. Our mind lacks understanding, our hearts corrupted and hardened by sin and and only Christ can save us from this alienation.
Why Is Christ Fit To Offer Salvation?
1: He is a Perfect Saviour
Among many meanings, the word perfect denotes completion and fulfillment. Christ was made perfect in the sense that he fulfilled all of God’s plan for salvation. He kept and fulfilled all of God’s law that we couldn’t keep.
2. Christ is the author of Salvation.
Only through him can sinners be saved. He went to the cross for sinners. And he has a name above every name. In his name salvation is offered.
3. He paid the ransom
Christ gave his life as a ransom for our sins. He paid the debt of sin we owed.
The Call To Obedience
You don’t own your soul and without Christ you are lost eternally. And the salvation Christ offers is salvation of the soul—eternally. Seek Christ to save your soul. Those who hear him take his word preciously and obey the gospel.
The good news is this: you are helpless, bound for hell and a Saviour in Christ comes to appease for your sins and offered salvation. Come to Christ. Look to him for your salvation. Jesus shows us abundant love and mercy. While we were sinners he died for us.
—This is a summary of sermon notes I made of a sermon preached by Pastor Ferguson Kcofie on 26/11/2017 @ Truth Missionary Baptist Church, Dansoman-Exhibition. Truth MissionaryBaptist Church is a Reformed Baptist Church in Accra-Ghana and is the church I attend.
Also, the notes are mine and hence solely liable for any misinterpretation of doctrine or the sermon which may appear in this summary.
The whole of John Chapter 20 speaks of Christ’s resurrection and the events surrounding it. The resurrection is a fundamental Christian doctrine upon which Christianity stands or falls. Without the resurrection, Christianity has no hope to offer. Paul makes that point clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:11-19. Now considering the centrality of the resurrection to Christian doctrine, it is important we study it. In this article, an adaptation of a lesson I taught at a fellowship meeting, I will consider five points about the resurrection which can be gleaned from the text.
The Resurrection Is historical.
The empty tomb points to a true historical event. Christ was crucified. He was buried. And he resurrected. Dr Simon Gathercole of the University of Cambridge in an online article noted that,
The historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth is both long-established and widespread. Within a few decades of his supposed lifetime, he is mentioned by Jewish and Roman historians, as well as by dozens of Christian writings. Compare that with, for example, King Arthur, who supposedly lived around AD500. The major historical source for events of that time does not even mention Arthur, and he is first referred to 300 or 400 years after he is supposed to have lived. The evidence for Jesus is not limited to later folklore, as are accounts of Arthur. 
To establish the historicity of the resurrection, let’s look briefly at three points worth considering about the resurrection in the text.
(i) It happened on a specific day.
The resurrection is recorded to have happened on the first day of the week which is a Sunday. Jesus was crucified and buried on Friday. He rose on the third day. The disciples will further adopt this day as the Lord’s day—the day of worship. That day became the believers “solemn assembly” when they met to worship (Deut. 16:8, Jn 20:19; 26, Acts 20:7).
ii) There Were Eye Witnesses Account
Jesus didn’t vanish into thin airwhen he resurrected. He showed himself to people as proof of his resurrection. Mary Magdalene (vv. 1-2; 11-18), Peter, John and the other disciples (vv.3-10; 19-20), Thomas (v.26). In Jewish tradition, witnesses must be two or more to be admissible and the events met that criteria (See Deut. 17:6; 19:5).
(iii) The Resurrection Wasn’t A Hoax.
Before Christ resurrected, there were fears his disciples will steal his body and feign a resurrection (Matt.27:62-66). However, firstly, the disciples were not expecting a resurrection to go to the extent of faking one (vv. 2; 9). They had also locked themselves up for fear of the Jews and there was no indication they had the capability of stealing the body (v.19). Moreover, the tomb, according to Matthew was under security guard (Matt. 27:66). Finally, the folded grave cloths defeats a robbery. What grave looter has the luxury of time to nicely fold grave cloths?
(iv) There Was An Empty Tomb
That there was an empty tomb is evidence for the resurrection. If Christ didn’t resurrect, then his body must have been seen in the tomb. However, all who came to the scene looked into the tomb and didn’t see Christ’s body. Mary Magdalene thought the body had been stolen. Peter and the other disciples looked into the tomb and saw nothing. There was simply no body in the tomb. A very informative article from the gospel coalition by Paul Rezkalla, titled 4 Reasons to believe in the empty tomb is worth our attention in this discourse. These four points are (i) The empty tomb predates the gospel, (ii) the body was buried in Jerusalem, (iii) the empty tomb was discovered by women and (iv) there were claims of a stolen body. 
A Fulfillment Of Scripture
John speaks of the resurrection in relation to Scripture: “for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead (v.9). Jesus, while he was with them also spoke of his death and resurrection (John 2:19-22). Paul also speaking of the resurrection speaks “in accordance with Scripture” (1Cor.15:1-3). The resurrection happened as Scripture prophesied. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus rebuked the disciples for not believing what was spoken of him about the events in Scripture of his death and resurrection:
And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:25-27).
We see Christ walking them through Scripture—the Old Testament— and opening their eyes to the truth of what was written about him.
The Resurrection Is The Foundation Of The Great Commission
When Christ appeared to the disciples, he charged them with the great commission: “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (vv.21-23).
Christ sends the disciples, gives them his very breath of life — the Holy Spirit and puts authority in their proclamation of the gospel which when believed brings life and damnation to those who will not believe. Because Christ rose; the disciples had the power and basis upon which to witness about the gospel (1Jn. 1:1-3, 1Pet. 1:16-20). Paul says “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1Cor.15:14 ff). Christ rose from the dead and that’s the hope of believers and sinners who will run to him in faith. Matt Permann in an online article titled Historical Evidence for the Resurrection points out seven reasons for which the empty tomb gives credence to the resurrection. And he mentions preaching of the gospel as the first. He wrote:
…the resurrection was preached in the same city where Jesus had been buried shortly before. Jesus’ disciples did not go to some obscure place where no one had heard of Jesus to begin preaching about the resurrection, but instead began preaching in Jerusalem, the very city where Jesus had died and been buried. They could not have done this if Jesus was still in his tomb–no one would have believed them. No one would be foolish enough to believe a man had raised from the dead when his body lay dead in the tomb for all to see. 
The Resurrection Teaches Christ’s Divinity.
One thing we cannot miss in John’s gospel is Christ’s divinity. John opens his book with that: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. (John 1:1). Thomas’ response to Christ in v.28 is instructive: “My Lord and my God!” Been a Jew, that is blasphemous if Christ was not God. And knowing who Christ was, he would have rebuked Thomas if his assertion about him was inaccurate. Again, we will note in the text that, when Thomas first told the disciples he would see the marks on Christ’s hands before believing, Jesus wasn’t present. But in Christ’ second appearance to the disciples, he showed Thomas his crucifixion marks:
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe. (vv26-27).
Christ’s omnipotence and omnipresence is displayed in that event. He knew Thomas’ doubts though he wasn’t physically present when Thomas expressed those doubts. All things are bare and naked before God (Heb. 4:13). Christ is God. Peter tells us it was impossible for death to hold him down (Acts 2:24).
Faith And Eternal Life In Christ
John ends his account by saying:
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God , and that by believing you may have life in his name (vv. 30-31).
To John, this is his overarching motive for writing his gospel account; that people will come to Faith in Christ. The end goal of Christian ministry is leading people to faith in Christ by the preaching of the gospel. Anything else apart from this has no grounds. All we do as Christians and ministers of the gospel must have this one goal: that people “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God , and that by believing [they] may have life in his name.” Anything else is, borrowing from Paul, to be counted as dung.
1 Dr Simon Gathercole, What is the historical evidence that Jesus Christ lived and died https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/14/what-is-the-historical-evidence-that-jesus-christ-lived-and-died.
2. Paul Rezkalla, 4 Reasons To Believe In The Empty Tomb, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/4-reasons-to-believe-in-the-empty-tomb
3. Matt Permann, Historical Evidence for the Resurrection, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/historical-evidence-for-the-resurrection
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus , called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God (Romans 1:1)
Paul introduces himself as a servant of Christ. He goes on further to say why he is a servant of Christ; he was set apart to proclaim the gospel of God. And as a servant, he Christ did not call him to proclaim his own ideas and philosophies; as many preachers do today in the name of preaching. The Christian message takes its source from God. It is God’s message to human kind. The word gospel simply means good news. Hence the Christian message — the gospel of God is the good news of God.
Now good news exists because there is bad news. The bad news is that human beings are sinners separated from God by sin and damned for condemnation (Ps. 51:5, Jer. 17:9, Jn 3:18-19, Rom. 3:23, 6:23; Eph. 2:1).
However, God in his mercy has made a way of escape for the sinner and this way is faith in Christ Jesus (Jn.1:12, 3:16, Rom.3:24; 28, 5:1). Christ is the ‘content‘ of God’s message. The gospel of God, Paul says was “…promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh“(v.2–3). Paul here tells us plainly that God’s message is about Christ. And where we find this message is in Scripture. Christ is, as I have already mentioned, the ‘content’ of God’s message. Christ is our kerygma—the proclamation of the Christian message.
One may further ask, “What about Christ?” Paul answers that Christ “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (v.4). The Christian message is centred on the death and ressurection of Christ. That’s the gospel: “…Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures…he was buried…he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1Cor. 15:3-4).
The gospel—Christ’s death and resurrection is the only hope by which sinners will be saved. Sinners can only be reconciled to God as they believe in the gospel and repent from their sins. Paul says in 1 Cor. 1:17 that Christ did not send him to preach the gospel “with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power”. There is power in the preaching of the cross —death and resurrection — of Christ for the salvation of sinners (1Cor 1:18).
Any message not centred on Christ and his finished work on Calvary is no gospel. The gospel is not God has a purpose for you. The gospel is not God cares about you. The gospel is not God will heal you. The gospel is Christ died for sinners and rose again that through faith in him sinners will have eternal life.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
During the week, I refuted a statement by a friend that Christianity promises riches to believers. And his basis was;
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2Cor. 8:9).
I tried explaining the true context of the text to him but his mind was made up. There are many today, who like my friend, hold this same kind of belief. To them Christianity promises everything in the world. And to these people, coming to Christ is premised on such false notions of Christianity. This false form of Christianity is pervasive in our country Ghana and indeed across the world.
Sadly, many, if not the majority, have bought into this perverse and watered down gospel which promises anything from a life of health, prosperity and comfort in the name of Christianity. People put up a pursuit of “things” as a pursuit of Christ. But they are wrong. Coming to Christ because of a false gospel produces false converts. In the gospel of John, we are introduced to the first miracle Jesus did at a wedding in Chapter 2. Then as the narration concludes, we are told that
Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man (vv. 23-25).
There are a number of lessons we can draw from the text.
1 Superficial Faith Cannot Save
…many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing (v.23).
Why we come to Jesus is very important. Some come to Jesus for the wrong reasons. They want a breakthrough, a miracle, a healing…We see in the text that the people came because of the signs and miracles they saw Jesus perform. However, Jesus being God and omniscient, saw beyond their facade. He saw their hearts; the shallowness and insincerity of their faith. The only reason we must come to Christ is for our sins to be forgiven and reconciled to God. Any other thing apart from this will be a wrong reason.
What did Jesus say? “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33a). We would all have to examine ourselves to ascertain the state of our heart. Are you a genuine seeker of Christ? Is your pursuit after Jesus and the Kingdom of God?
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.(John 6:27).
2: Jesus Knows Our Heart
But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man (John 2:24-25).
You might have heard Jesus can give you a healing, a breakthrough, a miracle. Yes, you may truly have a need and you have been made to believe Jesus has the answers to your problem. Yes he does have the answers. However, your heart seeks after only what you can receive. But not a heart willing and ready to submit to Christ’s Lordship. We can be hypocritical with people. We can have double standards. We can deceive people with our piety and religious fervency. But before God, we are bare and naked. We can’t hide our true self. We can’t hide our motives. We can’t hide our intentions. He sees beyond all that: “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”(Hebrews 4:13).
Just like in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve hid themselves from God covering themselves with fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). Ironically, the loincloths didn’t cover up their shame. Is your heart sincere? What are you hiding from God while you seek His blessing? It is time to unmask and come face to face with the reality of your sinful life. Come because you need forgiveness of sins and you will not be cast out.
3. Salvation Is What You Need.
Whatever prompted you to seek Jesus is not greater than your need for salvation. Every problem is just symptomatic of humanity’s sin problem. We live in a fallen world in a fallen body. Our need for fulfilment, breakthroughs, miracles e.t.c are all a yearning for a void in our hearts to be filled. Augustine said it rightly; “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee”.
What we need is Christ Himself: the bread of life, Nothing else will satisfy your famished soul. Money won’t. Healing from a disease won’t. Temporal solutions cannot be applied to an eternal problem. Your need is rooted in a far more higher need; the redemption of your soul, reconciliation to God and standing justified before God. If you are coming to Christ for anything apart from these, you are trifling with your soul. It is not surprising that in the next Chapter immediately following John 2:23-25, we read of Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus. What Jesus told him is of great significance here:
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3).
Are you born again? That’s what you must be pursuing Christ for if you have no relationship with him.