“IAm the Light of the World”
HomeChurch Devotional 3/29/2020
These devotionals werewritten during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowedto meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of afull sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, butwill have the light of life.”
Light plays a prominent role in the introduction of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. In the prologue to his gospel account, John introduces the Word as the Light of men and the true Light. This Light is the life of all mankind. Light shines in the darkness and darkness cannot comprehend or overcome the Light. In contrast those who hate the light will remain in darkness and reject the Light.
It is possible for the Light, Jesus Himself, to be in men,and for men to become children of Light.
Jesus used the word light often. John uses the word twenty-one times. So what, exactly, is meant by calling Jesus the Light? First, Jesus, the Light, is light by nature. Light is what He is within Himself, within His being, His nature, His essence, His character. Scripture tells us that God is Light; that Jesus is the image of the invisible God; therefore, “Jesus is Light.” He is “the Light of the world.” Secondly, Jesus, the Light, tells us that He is holy, righteous, and pure. Light is the symbol of purity and holiness. Light means the absence of darkness and blindness; it has no spots of darkness or blackness, nor of sin and shame.
Thirdly, Jesus, the Light, reveals. His light shows clearly the nature, the meaning, and the destiny of all things. His light shines in, spots, opens up, identifies, illuminates, and shows things as they really are. The light of Jesus Christ shows the truth about the world and man and God. The light of Jesus Christ reveals that He loves and cares forman and wants man to love and care for Him. Fourth, Jesus, the Light, guides. His light allows a man to walk out of darkness. People no longer have to grope, grasp, and stumble about trying to find their way through life. The path of life can now be clearly seen. Finally, Jesus, the Light, does away with darkness and with chaos. His light routs, wipes out, strips away and erases the darkness. The empty chaos of creation was routed by the light given by God. Jesus Christ is the Light that can save man from chaos.
Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the Light of the world at the great Feast of Tabernacles. The very first ceremony of the Feast holds great significance for Jesus’ claim. It was called “The Illumination of the Temple” and was held in the Court of the Women. The center of the Court was surrounded by large sections of stadium-like seats. In the open space of the Court sat four huge candelabra. When darkness fell the candelabra were lit, and the elders danced and led the people in singing psalms before the Lord all night. The brilliance and glow from the burning flames of the huge candelabra were said to be so bright that the light could be seen throughout the whole city. It was against this background that Jesus cried out,”I am the Light of the world.”
By contrast, darkness is used in Scripture to describe both the state and the works of man. Darkness is very real in Scripture. First, darkness refers to the world of the natural man who does not know Jesus Christ. The natural man walks in ignorance of Jesus Christ; of God as revealed by Jesus Christ; of the real purpose and destiny of life as shown by Jesus Christ. The natural man stumbles and gropes about in this world. He knows nothing other than the things of this world as he sees them. His only hope is the hope of living a long life before death overtakes him. He walks in darkness, ignorant of real life now and hereafter.
Secondly, darkness symbolizes unpreparedness and unwatchfulness. It symbolizes the time when evil occurs. Thirdly, darkness is loved by men. Sinful men do their evil deeds under thecover of darkness. Men therefore hate the light because the light uncovers their evil behavior. Finally, darkness is hostile to light.
Not only does Jesus make a greatclaim by stating “I Am the Light of the world” He also made a twofold promise .First, all who follow Him will not walk in darkness and secondly, they will have the light of life. None of us possesses light, not within ourselves, not by nature. By nature, we are darkness. We are delivered out of darkness by following Jesus Christ. The Greek word indicates this is a continuous action. We must continue to follow Christ in order to receive light. John continued this theme in his first epistle:
In 1 John 1:5-7(ESV) John writes –
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Those who claim to follow the Son must be living in thelight of God’s presence. They must be illumined by the truth of God’s character. To “live in the light” requires constant contact with God and no tolerance for dishonesty, hypocrisy, or sin. Living in the light comes from continuous effort to take on Christ’s qualities. This involves complete transformation from within.
Living in the light leads to fellowship with each other. This fellowship among believers results from each believer’s having fellowship with God. True spirituality manifests itself in community fellowship. One cannot say that he or she communes with God and then refuse to commune with God’s people. Such was the case with some of the false teachers of John’s day, and this situation exists among false cults today. Often their followers and leaders claim to have special relationships with God, but they don’t affiliate with other believers. They stay isolated and withdrawfrom everyone else. John’s point is that the natural result of living in the light (in fellowship with God) should be joyful relationships with other Christians.
Another result of living in the light is that the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin. John emphasized that the death of Christ saves people, not the false teachers’knowledge. The verb cleanses also means “purifies.” Sin is not only forgiven,it is erased. How does Jesus’ blood do that? In Old Testament times, believers would symbolically transfer their sins to an animal, which they then would sacrifice. The animal died in their place to pay for their sin and to allow them to continue living in God’s favor. God graciously forgave them because oftheir faith in him and because they obeyed his commandments concerning the sacrifice. Those sacrifices anticipated the day when Christ would completely remove sin. Real cleansing from sin came with Jesus, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Those who “live in the light,” the true believers, will still find themselves at times in sin. Christians will notbe made completely perfect until Jesus returns and brings them into his Kingdom. When they do sin, however, God has already made provision to deal with those sins through the blood of his Son. That provision allows God’s people to continue to walk in the light—dealing with sin through confession and receiving his forgiveness so that fellowship with God and with others can remainunhindered.
In claiming to be the light of the world, Jesus defined his unique position as the one true light for all people,not just the Jews. Death brings eternal darkness; but to follow Jesus means not stumbling through the darkness but having the light that leads to life. Believers no longer walk blindly in sin, rather his light shows sin and the need of forgiveness, gives guidance, and leads into eternal life with Christ.