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I AM the Light of the World
“I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12) is the second of seven “I AM” declarations of Jesus, recorded only in John’s gospel, that point to His unique divine identity and purpose. In declaring Himself to be the Light of the world, Jesus was claiming that He is the exclusive source of spiritual light. No other source of spiritual truth is available to mankind.
There are two types of light in the world. We can perceive one, or both, or neither! When we are born into this world, we perceive physical light, and by it we learn of our Creator’s handiwork in the things we see. However, although that light is good, there is another Light, a Light so important that the Son of God had to come in order to both declare and impart it to men. John 8:12 records, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life.’” The allegory used by the Lord in this verse speaks of the light of His Truth, the light of His Word, the light of eternal Life. Those who perceive the true Light will never walk in spiritual darkness.
We take a candle into a room to dispel the darkness. Likewise, the Light of Jesus Christ has to be taken into the darkness of sin that engulfs the hearts and lives of those who are not following Him. That’s the condition behind having this Light—that we follow Him. If we do not follow Him, we will not have this light, this truth, this eternal life.
Physical light is necessary for physical life. The earth would certainly change very rapidly if there were no longer any sunlight. A forest full of trees with very thick canopies of foliage high above has very little plant life on the ground except for moss or lichen, which needs little sunlight. Plants will never move away from the light—they are said to be positively phototropic, drawn to the light. In the same way, spiritual light is necessary for spiritual life, and this can be a good test of our standing in Christ. The believer will always tend toward spiritual things; he will always tend toward fellowship, prayer, the Word of God, and so on. The unbeliever always does the opposite (John 1:5; 3:19–20) because light exposes his evil, and he hates the light. Indeed, no man can come into the true spiritual light of Jesus Christ, unless he is enabled (John 6:37).
Following Jesus is the condition of two promises in John 8:12. First, His followers will never walk in darkness, which is a reference to the assurance of salvation we enjoy. As true followers of the Light, we will never follow the ways of sin, never live in a state of continually sinning (1 John 1:5–7). Rather, we repent of our sin in order to stay close to the Light of the world. The second promise is that we will reflect the Light of Life. Just as He came as the Light of the world, He commands us to be “lights,” too. In Matthew 5:14–16 we see believers depicted as the light of the world. Just as the moon has no light of its own, reflecting the light of the sun, so are believers to reflect the Light of Christ so that all can see it in us. The Light is evident to others by the good deeds we do in faith and through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The emphasis here is maintaining a credible and obvious witness in the world, a witness that shows us to be faithful, God-honoring, trustworthy, sincere, earnest, and honest in all that we do. Also, we should always be ready to give an account of the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15), for the gospel Light we have is not to be covered, but made obvious for all to see and benefit from, that they, too, may leave the darkness and come into the Light.
For some “Light” thought . . .
Jesus at His Birth
Shortly after His birth, Jesus’ parents took Him to the temple, presented Him to the Lord, and offered the required sacrifice.
Simeon, moved by the Holy Spirit, went to the temple, took Jesus in His arms, and said, “For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (Lk. 2:32).
Simeon speaks of Jesus as the salvation and light God promised (Isaiah 9:2; 42:6; 49:6,9; 51:4; 60:1-3).
Jesus, at His birth, fulfilled the prophesy of Isaiah. He is the light of revelation God sent into the world.
Jesus at the Beginning of His Ministry
When Jesus began His ministry in Capernaum, Matthew tells us this was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy.
“The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a light dawned” (Matt. 4:16).
Besides fulfilling Isaiah’s prophesies at His birth, Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophesies when He began preaching the gospel.
Jesus is the Light of the World
Jesus is the Light of the world (Jn. 1:4-9; 8:12). This figure of speech is applicable to Him because:
In Him we have life, and the life is the Light of man (Jn. 1:4; 8:12).
We believe through Him (Jn. 1:7).
Jesus enlightens every man (Jn. 1:9).
By believing in Jesus, we become sons of Light (Jn. 12:36).
By believing in Jesus, we escape from darkness (Jn. 12:46).
Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin (1 Jn. 1:7).
Christians Love The Light
Every person loves either darkness or the Light. People who love darkness hate the Light. And people who love the Light hate darkness.
“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (Jn. 3:20-21).
Christians Walk in the Light
We walk in the Light because God is Light.
“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light . . . ” (1 Jn. 1:5-7).
Because we walk in the Light, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:5-7).
Christians are Children of Light
Walking in the Light, we are children of Light (Eph. 5:8).
“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” (Eph. 5:8).
As a result, we expose the unfruitful deeds of darkness (Eph. 5:11-13).
Christians Are the Light of the World
As children of Light, exposing darkness, we are the light of the world.
“You are the light of the world . . .” (Matt. 5:14).
Therefore we shine our light by essence of who we are.
“. . . A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house” (Matt. 5:14-15).
And men glorify God, as a result of seeing our good works.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
Result: Eternal Life
As children of the Light, we “share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Col. 1:12).
Therefore we will spend eternity in heaven, where there is eternal light (Rev. 21:24; 22:5).