“I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD”
Light – one of God’s greatest gifts! It is everywhere and makes everything so beautiful. Yet scientists are still trying to unlock its secrets. It makes us think of the sun. in the centre of our solar system and thus the “light of the world,” even though it is 93,000,000 miles from the earth. The temperature at the sun’s surface is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
But the sun is not the “Light of the World.” That is the Son of God, the One who made the sun, and then declared, “I am the Light of the World.” It is a good comparison. Our light comes from the sun – and God’s light is spiritually what the sun is naturally.
Think of just four of light’s properties:
• It has a wide spectrum. On one side of visible light band we have gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet rays. On other side we have infra-red, radar, FM, TV, shortwave frequencies. How much can we understand of God?
• It is Invisible (as God is).
• Absolute (e=mc2) – as God is.
• Shine visible light through a prism and the perfect blend of white light it breaks up into its seven colours. So Christ’s light breaks up into His holiness, love, wisdom, power, righteousness, etc.
So it is not surprising that when the Holy Spirit wants to illustrate all the glory, holiness, and righteousness of God, He uses light. Hence he says, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Light is one of three John words, along with life and love.
This is the second of the Lord’s great “I AM” statements. Each of these statements is a bold declaration of His deity. When He said “I AM…,” He was taking on Himself God’s ID, just as He had told Moses at the burning bush. Of course we cannot grasp the concept of God as the “I AM,” which is why He reduced it to understandable word pictures – like bread, light, shepherds, doors, and vines.
BACKGROUND – WOMAN TAKEN IN ADULTERY (8:1-11)
The background to the statement of Jesus as the Light of the World was a woman, caught in the capital offence of adultery and brought to Jesus. What would He do? The Pharisees, stones in hand, waited while He stooped to write in the sand. He then challenged them – “Let the person who has no sin, who deserves no punishment himself, let him be the first to carry out the sentence and throw a stone.”
The searchlight of Christ’s presence exposed their own sinful hearts, and they slipped away. Jesus then turned to the woman, and confronted her darkness. She was likely expecting the first blow, preparing to die. This isn’t the way she wanted to live, and certainly not how she wanted to die. Suddenly it was quiet. Her accusers were gone. Only Jesus was there. She knew He was saying, “Leave the darkness; walk in light.” She received His forgiveness – “Neither do I accuse you,” and chose to follow His way – “Go and sin no more.”
It was just after this that Jesus presented Himself as “the Light of the World.” We also cannot hide our guilt. The light given to the sinful woman is now offered to all who are tired of the darkness, and want to walk in the light. Millions down through the ages can testify that there is no darkness to those who follow Him.
1. “I AM THE LIGHT”
What does this mean? Did He walk around like a glowing light bulb? Light and God have always gone together. In Genesis 1 on Day 1 God said, “Let there be light.”
Jesus’ birth was bathed in light, as the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds. Later a star shone over Bethlehem where He was born. At His Transfiguration He became dazzling white as His glory blazed out. On the Damascus road, Paul saw a light above the brightness of the midday sun. In Revelation, He is described as “His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance” (Rev. 1:16).
a) Light Regenerates
Light and life go together. Cover a piece of grass and it will die. That’s why John 1:4 says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” When the Holy Spirit imparts the life of Jesus, we are born again. Our eyes get opened and for the first time we see.
Thereafter, just as plants grow towards the light, so we grow towards Him and mature as we take in His truth and presence.
b) Light Reveals
The Lord’s light had earlier searched the consciences of the woman’s accusers, and they had gone out. His light reveals the ugly things in our lives. We may not like it, but it is like a precious gift – like the early diagnosis of a deadly cancer. It also reveals beautiful things. Just like Geo. Robinson’s hymn,:
Heaven above is softer blue,
Earth around is sweeter green;
Something lives in every hue
Christless eyes have never seen:
(i) It Reveals The Truth About Ourselves. Only as we examine ourselves in His light do we see ourselves as we really are, sinners in need of a Saviour. As we walk in the light all our impurities are seen. The closer we are to the source, the more we see. One evidence of reality is that we are concerned about our sin. John says, “If we say we have not sin, we deceive ourselves.” But as we see our sin, and confess it He is faithful to forgive.
(ii) It Reveals The Truth About Christ – His person His work, birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension.
(iii) It Reveals The Truth About Salvation. John 8:12 says we can have full, eternal life through receiving and following Jesus. “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
We can be guided by the light of Jesus and the lamp of His Word. A man used to drive his team and wagon swiftly and safely on a narrow road through a dark forest. Afterward he was asked how he knew where all the trees were along the road so that he could miss them as he drove. He replied, “I look up at the opening between the tree tops and know that if I follow the light above I will be safe.”
c) Light Radiates
“As we walk in the light, we have fellowship one with another…” How sweet to walk in the fellowship of God’s people and God’s Son.
2. “. . . OF THE WORLD”
What does this mean? With darkness everywhere, the whole world is not illuminated.
a) The World Has No Other Light
He is the only light for the world. It is Jesus or darkness. This Light is not for the Jews or an elect few, but for the world, available to all who believe. “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46).
b) The World Was Made For This Light
This is the owner’s light. When this light comes, it not only shows sin to be what it is – foreign and ugly – but also shows how to deal with it. That is the way it was meant to be at the beginning.
c) The World Will One Day Be Filled With This Light
One day light will cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea, as the world will be lit by the glory of His presence as He is acknowledged to be King of kings.
3. “. . . HE THAT FOLLOWETH ME”
After Jesus presented Himself as the Light of the World, He doesn’t mention light in the rest of the chapter! He seems to change the subject and take a detour. But not so. He was speaking to people who had the Light of God shining all around them. The miracles He did, the words He spoke, the life he lived all proclaimed that He was God.
The challenge, “He that follows me” implies three things:
a) A New Decision
To follow is a choice, and an act of the will, Those who follow anyone else walk in darkness. They may follow Confucius or Buddha, or Krishna, or Mohammed, but light and life are only at the end of the Saviour’s road.
b) A New Direction
I am not following if I move in a different direction.
c) A New Determination
Following Jesus is a long-term investment. “He that taketh not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me” (Mat 10:38).
4. “SHALL NOT WALK IN DARKNESS”
We don’t like the dark. It is filled with fear and the unknown. Going to write a thriller? Set it at night and right away you have tension, unease, suspicion.
Of course, there is more than physical darkness. There is the darkness of ignorance, being “in the dark” about something, thinking we know a lot, then along comes some one who knows better and enlightens us.
The Bible teaches three things about spiritual darkness:
a) We Live in the Dark
Darkness is our natural environment. Our understanding is darkened (Eph 4:18). Isaiah says, “We grope for the wall like the blind…as if we had no eyes.”
b) We Love the Dark
“This is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:18). Disturb a log in the woods and bugs scurry everywhere. Not that they fear you, but because they love darkness
We can block the light so it doesn’t enter our hearts, like looking at the sun with an x-ray film. Jesus said of the Pharisees, “Their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and be converted” (Mat 13:15).
c) We Are Lost in the Dark
We may be morally, intellectually, educationally “enlightened.” We may even have the light of conscience, and able to see God at work in many ways. But until my eyes are opened to by the Spirit of God, I am in darkness.
The greatest danger about darkness is that we are blind to it. We think see, and have life figured out. Then suddenly in a crisis we find ourselves disoriented and lost.
5. “SHALL HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE”
Light and life go together. So do death and darkness. Can you think of a dying person refusing a doctor? Only if he doesn’t know he is dying. Or lost person rejecting a guide? Only if he doesn’t know he is lost.
Yet the Light was and is rejected by many. Think of Judas. “He having received the sop went out immediately, and it was night.” Out from the presence of the Light of the World into the night.
Jesus called hell “outer darkness” (Mat 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). In that day, all will be light. The light of Jesus, the Light of the World, will fill the world, and everything will be beautiful with the light of Christ.
A man one night visited the Grand Canyon, and slept on the ground. In the morning he woke and found his arm dropped down into a void. He had slept on the edge of the canyon. Another step would have taken Him the edge. It is dangerous to wander around in the dark! We do not know where the edge of life is, or how deep is the precipice beyond.
The cost of light via Eskom is high. But no cost was as high as that which enabled the Lord Jesus to become the Light of the World. “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour” (Mat 27:45).
This message has a warning for us all:
If I am a Christian but am walking in the shadows, I cannot walk with Christ except you walk in the light (1 John 1:7). I should come back to the light today.
If I am not a Christian, I am darkness. Unless I have Christ, I will live in the darkness, die in the darkness, and eventually go into “outer darkness.”
Remember Isaiah’s word, “Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that. . . walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God” (Isaiah 50:10).