The Light of the World
“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).
- John 8:12–30
Many opinions about the person of Christ circulated during His public ministry. Some thought He was the great eschatological (end-times) prophet (John 7:40), while others thought He was indeed the Messiah (7:41). These opinions almost caused Jesus to be arrested because of the chaos they caused (7:41-43). But “no one laid hands on Him” because “His hour had not yet come” (7:30, 44). The second “I AM” saying of Jesus follows these events. Face-to-face with an adulteress and Pharisees, He declares, “I am the light of the world” (8:12).
Light and darkness are important motifs found throughout Scripture. Light is often used to describe God and his glory. In his epistles, John tells us that “… God is light and in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Jesus, by calling Himself the light of the world, is once again making reference to His deity. Lest there should be any doubt about His claim, there are two other places in the gospels where it is clear that Jesus shares the exact same light as God the Father. The first of these is found at the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1–13) where Jesus radiates the refulgent glory of God from within. That Jesus shares the same light with His Father is also made clear in John 1. We are told that the Word is God (1:1) and that this Word who became incarnate in Christ Jesus is the Light shining in the darkness (1:4).
Jesus’ reference to darkness in 8:12 is notable because the Bible often uses darkness as a metaphor for spiritual blindness (Ps. 107:10; John 3:19). Such blindness cannot subdue the glory of God in Jesus Christ because the darkness will never overcome the light (John 1:5).
Though the darkness of sin will not finally obscure Christ’s glory, some men just will not see who Christ is. In John 8:13–20, the Pharisees rejected Christ’s testimony about Himself because they said it lacked the second witness required by the law in order to verify its truth. Jesus answered them saying that even if His witness were alone, it would be sufficient because He knows where He came from and where He is going. Jesus came to fulfill the law, and He told the Pharisees that there really are two witnesses, the Father and the Son. The Pharisees, however, missed this because they were concerned only with the details of the law and not the Person to whom the details of the law pointed.
When we read the Scriptures, it can be easy to become so consumed with the details and intricacies of its requirements that we forget that the whole Bible points to Christ. As you read and study the Bible, ask the Holy Spirit to help you see how all of the details point us to Jesus.
Passages for Further Study
- Isa. 60:1–3
- Ezek. 43:1–3
- John 1:1–4
- 1 John 1:5–7