Verse: John 8:12 (ESV)
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.”
“Things Jesus Said” from the book of John.
In this verse we are presented with the second of the seven “I am” statements of Jesus found in the book of John. While each is a stand-alone metaphor explaining something that Jesus provides his followers, they also each allude to Jesus’ standing as God. In Exodus 3:14, when Moses asked for the name of God, the answer was “I AM”. In John 8:58, Jesus echoes those words, claiming unequivocally to be equal to God. It’s not a coincidence then, that the seven statements in John incorporate that same language.
As is so often the case, context plays a major role in Jesus’ teaching. In this case, the setting is the Jewish Feast of Booths, a festival that would have involved a ceremonial lighting of lamps. So the imagery is fresh in the minds of the listeners. Further, the concept of “light” was an important one to the Jewish people. Consider Psalm 27:1 – “The Lord is my light and my salvation…” and Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Nobody would have had any trouble understanding the point being made.
Now consider the specific language Jesus used. Not “I am A light.” Not “I am ONE OF the lights.” No, he was very clear. “I am THE light of the world.” He continues, “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness…”. The clear implication here is that the contrapositive is also true, that whoever DOES NOT follow Jesus WILL walk in darkness. If you want to get to the destination (eternity with God in heaven), Jesus is the ONLY way to see the path.
If you have moved in Christian circles, you’ve probably come across the phrase, “Liar, Lunatic, or Lord”. These “I AM” statements are part of the basis for that saying. The gist is this – the claims that Jesus made force one of these three things to be true: he’s making it all up; he’s out of his mind; or he’s really God. This is one of the main points that separate Christianity from other religions and belief systems. There is no room for optional truth.
But while there is an eternal undertone to the message, it’s not without practical application for our everyday lives as well. We all have found ourselves, at one time or another, “walking in darkness”. Whether it’s grief, depression, sin, etc., we feel like we can no longer see where we are going. But when we turn toward Jesus, the way is illuminated once again. When we follow him, while we may still be able to see, feel, sense the darkness, we won’t have to continue walking in it. Instead, we walk in the “light of life”.
God, thank you for being our light. Help us, when we find ourselves in the darkness, to turn toward Jesus and follow him. Amen.
Author: Dave MacDonald