Light of The World
When Jesus arrived on the scene in the flesh 2000 years ago he not only had a message, he was the message. When he tells his listeners about himself it is of critical importance because there is no separation nor inconsistency between the message and the messenger. In John 8:12 Jesus makes the following statement:
Jesus spoke to the people again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
I can remember visiting Carlsbad Caverns many years ago and plunging into total darkness. Once our guide had us all the way down inside the cavern, the light was extinguished for maybe ten seconds. The darkness was instant and complete. Even though it was momentary and completely controlled, there was something unsettling about the experience. At this moment you may close your eyes, but you’re still able to perceive shadow and light. We are so used to the benefits of light we usually don’t give it a second thought. Light is one of those things absolutely necessary for life, but usually taken for granted. Did the sun come up where you live today? Of course it did, and we expect it will come up again tomorrow, providing thermal and light energy for our planet. When the sun goes down, we naturally flip a switch and turn on electrical lights which allow us to complete numerous tasks. No, we usually do not think about light until it is taken away. Having the lights go out was one common experience while living in Mexico was for the power to go out, especially during the rainy season (June – October). Battery powered flashlights and candles helped us to navigate the night when that happened. It was inconvenient, but it still wasn’t complete darkness.
The power of Jesus’ statement is revealed in the conversation with the religious people that follows. He emphatically says, “I” am the light of the world, not you or the woman next to you, or the guy standing over there! He is also exclusive in his declaration, I am “THE” light of the world. He is telling us that there are no other options here, he’s not one of many lights. If we follow him, then we walk in the light, and if not then we walk in the darkness. The trouble comes when we fail to realize we are in the darkness. I mean, really, the first step to solving any problem is to recognize that there is a problem. If I do not realize the tire is flat on my car, then I am not going to take the time to change it until some real damage is done. Jesus is stating unequivocally that if we want to see, to have a true vision for life, then we look to him. Jesus’ words here and elsewhere in the gospels are what prompted the great Christian apologist and author C.S. Lewis to write the Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic or the Lord. We are left to accept and believe what Jesus says about himself or conclude that he was a deceiver or crazy. The religious folks listening to Jesus the day he spoke these words chose to conclude that he was a liar – “Then the Pharisees said to him, “Because you are testifying about yourself, your testimony is not valid.”” Later in John chapter 8 they will claim he is possessed. What will you do with his words?
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