I AM the Light of the World
“Jesus spoke to them, ‘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 IS USEFUL: We need light. Without it, there would be no visibility. There is plenty of talk in the world about the importance of vision, but vision is useless without visibility, which we cannot have without light. Light makes things appear the way they really are. And that’s what Jesus claims about himself, that through him we get to see everything in the world as it really is. This means that whatever we see in this world, we do not see it as it really is until we see it through the eyes of Jesus, or until Jesus is the lens through which or the light by which we see it. Whether it is light, work, children, parenting, sex, fashion, friendship, personality, death, or anything for that matter, we do not see it as it is so long as we are looking at it in the dark, without the light of the world, Jesus. So one operating question in the life of a Christian is: how does this really look like to Jesus?
LIGHT IS BEAUTIFUL. We admire light. We are drawn and attracted to it. We are captivated by it, entranced and enchanted by it. Light is beautiful to the eyes and it casts its beauty on everything it touches. It is worth gazing at, as we do the light of a sunset or sunrise, or as we do the light of a fire in the fireplace on a dark cold night, or as we do the light of the stars on the dark canvas of the universe. We can stare at it for hours because it is beautiful with a beauty that makes us ache to be absorbed by it or to be consumed by it or to be filled with it. We have a deep longing to be like it, to be reflectors of it, which is why our language is filled with metaphors of light, like “It’s your time to shine”, or “you’re a star”, or “you’re really glowing today”, or “he’s very bright”. It is strange that we would ever desire to be something like a lightbulb, but we do. We want to be as beautiful as the light, and Jesus says he is the light whose beauty we desire to have as our own. So one operating question in the life of a Christian is: how can I keep the beauty of Christ before me?
LIGHT IS DELIGHTFUL. We enjoy light. It gives us pleasure to see the darkness of night end. We walk into a dark room and switch on the light and find, almost without noticing it, that the light is not just useful and beautiful, but enjoyable and pleasant. When there is an electric power failure and we suddenly find ourselves in the dark, we feel our enjoyment levels go down instantly. But when the light suddenly come back on, we feel our spirits lifted. This is true also on long journey through rural countryside off the electric grid at night, or in the waters of an ocean or lake, until we see lights in the distance, filling us with the joy and delight of hope and renewing our strength. Lights is sweet, and by claiming that he is the light of the world, Jesus claims that he is the one delight to satisfy us. To put it another way, though it is not accurate to say that God exists to be enjoyed by us, for God exists in and of himself and for no other reason than himself, it is quite true to say that we are the ones who exist to enjoy him. Jesus is our access to a relationship with God in which we can enjoy him. So one operating question in the life of a Christian is: what are the activities by which I experience Jesus as a delight and joy?
LIGHT IS POWERFUL. We revere light. It is a powerful force, a militant force even. It does not negotiate or compromise. Light invades and takes over territory and does not give it back. Light does not sit down to talk terms with its enemies. Light either reveal what is good or exposes what is evil and drives it away. Switch a light on in a dark room and all the vermin crawl away into hiding. Watch the sunrise and see all the night retreat and cower into oblivion. Light is formidable. Light is not lightweight. By claiming to be the light of the world, Jesus is claiming that all the power that exists is his and that all usurpers will be taken on. Jesus’ arrival on the shores of our hearts is a declaration of war against all public and secret occupiers of territory that is rightfully his, and as is the case in any battle between light and darkness, his victory is guaranteed. So one operating question in the life of a Christian is: what enemies of all that is good does Jesus mean to overthrow in me, around me, and through me today?
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”