What Did Jesus Mean When He Said “I Am the Light of the World” (John 8:12)?
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How Jesus is the Light of the
Through Christ, we have access to the Father. Our perspective brightens when touched by the Light. Illumined by the Creator, we are able to hang onto the shreds of light that permeate the darkness. “Jesus’s works made who he was manifestly clear,” writes Jon Bloom, “His works shone, and they still shine.” Jesus shines light into the cracks of our hearts that harbor sin. Once revealed, the conviction of the Holy Spirit instructs and guides us to repent. We grow wiser as He sanctifies our hearts to reflect His light.
What was Jesus Trying to Get Across to His Listeners?
“An entire system of spiritual darkness – spearheaded by Satan himself, carried out by hordes of demons, and influencing every corner of earth- rages right below the surface of our everyday lives,” writes Marshal Legal in God’s Not Afraid of the Dark, “How do we live with any hope while we drown in all of this darkness?”null
We are self-centered and self-driven without Jesus. We come to the end of ourselves and our efforts and become overwhelmed by the natural darkness in our hearts. No one has “a good heart” in a natural state. We all fall short. Jesus came so we would experience the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s loving embrace through the wisdom of His word and our relationship with Him shed His light on others living in darkness.
“One reason the darkness around us is so terrifying is that we see so much of ourselves in it – our weaknesses, our fears, our brokenness, our sin,” writes Segal,“for many of us, no darkness is more intimidating than our own.”
“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 will have the light of life.’” –John 8:12
“I am the light of the world,” is rooted in Jesus’ relationship with His Father. “Jesus speaks from God and for God and as God.” Apart from Jesus, we live in darkness. We have limited capacity to understand who we are or what we see in the world. “The beauty of our humanity is still evident,“but ugliness abounds.”
“The light of Christ, is the brightness of God shining on the retina of the human soul.” Life can be wonderful on earth, but not fully complete without Jesus. We are all created to crave the Creator, our Father, and only through a relationship with our Savior Jesus can the dark parts of our hearts brighten. “When I admit I am not enough, I’m freed to run and cling to the God who is.”
The Light of the world paid for our freedom on the cross.
The Biblical Context of the Verse “I Am the Light of the World”
Jesus consistently focused on linking Himself to the Father. The Greek word for light in this verse is phos, defined as the light anything emitting light; light, i.e. brightness. God profoundly states I am Light is part of who He is. Subtle but powerful.
Each day, the sun rises to warm, illuminate, and provide growth on earth. The moon and stars light the night, serving as navigators long before smartphones. We reach for the light-switch when we enter a dark room, and we depend on our accumulation of knowledge to shed light on our lives. Light permeates into every crack and crevice of our lives and beings, whether visible, tangible in regard to warmth, or metaphorically enlightening.
Light is required for any vegetation to grow, and the light clarifies the human spirit. Christ was present at the creation of the world. The Author of Light has the authority to illuminate His creation in its truest form. Jesus saying He is the Light of the world is the outer recognition of His Father’s creation and presence, and the inward dwelling of the Holy Spirit, by which we know our Father and walk with Jesus. Jesus is the Light of the world, our world, and in the world. Like God is omnipresent, so Jesus is Light. Through Him and His sacrificial death on the cross, we are exposed to the light and of our sins.
Christ is the Light of the world. God is light, and Christ is the image of the invisible God. One sun enlightens the whole world; so does one Christ, and there needs no more.
A boat needs navigational lights to avoid running into the shore, aground or into other vessels at night. Light prevents aimless drifting. Captains follow blinking channel markers and lighthouses at night. Now, GPS coordinates steer ships, but the Captain and crew still need to know how to navigate by the stars, buoys and lights in case of an electrical malfunction. A lack of preparation could be deadly.
Just as ships follow lights to ensure safe passage, so we rely on the Light. Jesus’s death broke through the darkness, lighting the way for us. God’s Word, through the enlightening of the Holy Spirit, helps us understand and remember when we need His wisdom to steer us. Prayer, which serves dually as life boat and lighthouse throughout our everyday lives is an open line of communication not available to Old Testament believers. We learn from the beginning of the book of Genesis and John’s Gospel that Jesus was present, and that He is the Word. Everything the light touches, He is a part of.