The Light of the World (John 8:12-19)

Jesus spoke to the Pharisees again. “I am the light of the world,” he said. “Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.”

The Pharisees said to him, “Now you are testifying on your own behalf; what you say proves nothing.”

“No,” Jesus answered, “even though I do testify on my own behalf, what I say is true, because I know where I came from and where I am going. You do not know where I came from or where I am going. You make judgments in a purely human way; I pass judgment on no one. But if I were to do so, my judgment would be true, because I am not alone in this; the Father who sent me is with me. It is written in your Law that when two witnesses agree, what they say is true. I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me also testifies on my behalf.”

 “Where is your father?” they asked him.

“You know neither me nor my Father,” Jesus answered. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” (Good News Translation)

Light has many uses and a lot of facets to it. The sun’s light gives life; without it we wouldn’t survive. In the form of a fixture or flashlight, it illumines the way so that we can function. The gift of light allows us not to remain in darkness.

The Son, Jesus, is also the Light which gives life. Throughout Holy Scripture, light represents awareness and deliverance; it represents God’s ability to guide us and save us. Jesus helps us find our way in this world.

The Apostle John talked a great deal about light in his Gospel and Epistles:

The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out. (John 1:4-5, GNT)

Jesus said, “The light will be among you a little longer. Continue on your way while you have the light, so that the darkness will not come upon you; for the one who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. (John 12:35, GNT)

Now the message that we have heard from his Son and announce is this: God is light, and there is no darkness at all in him. If then, we say that we have fellowship with him, yet at the same time live in the darkness, we are lying both in our words and in our actions. But if we live in the light—just as he is in the light—then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin. (1 John 1:5-7, GNT)

Light is life, and Jesus, as the Light of the World, is eternal life.

As our Light and our Life, Jesus fulfills the prophetic role, as described by the prophet Isaiah:

“I, the Lord, have called you and given you power
    to see that justice is done on earth.
Through you I will make a covenant with all peoples;
    through you I will bring light to the nations.” (Isaiah 42:6, GNT)

As people of the Light, we are to let that light shine in the darkness so that others can also find direction and deliverance:

“You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, GNT)

Not everyone, of course, buys into this distinctively Christian way of seeing things – which is why it’s important for all Christians and Churches everywhere to be characterized by the Light and not by the darkness.

Humanity is a strange alchemy of both light and dark, hopefulness and hopelessness, awareness and ignorance, love and hate. We must acknowledge the light, bring it out, let it shine. Hiding the light only gives the dark forces of this world an opportunity to grip people in the shadows of guilt and shame.

Light must be respected. Long exposure to the sun brings a nasty sunburn to the skin. Being drawn to the fire’s light will also get you burnt if you get too close. And some light masquerades as good when it really isn’t.

False apostles lie about their work and disguise themselves to look like real apostles of Christ. Well, no wonder! Even Satan can disguise himself to look like an angel of light! So it is no great thing if his servants disguise themselves to look like servants of righteousness. In the end they will get exactly what their actions deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15, GNT)

The deception typically happens whenever one lacks awareness of their own light, or forgotten, like a misplaced sock under the bed. Then, there’s no means by which to discern the bogus righteousness.

There are many ways of becoming more self-aware and recognizing the light of Christ, such as:

  • Keep a daily journal. Answer for yourself questions like, “What did you do well today?” “What didn’t go so well?” “Why?” and “How will you be and do things differently next time?”

“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” Lord Byron (1788-1824)

  • Debrief with others about your experiences. Merely interrogating yourself all the time leads to twisted thinking.

“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” John Dewey (1859-1952)

  • Fight evil. Read books. Meditatively read Scripture. Reading not only helps one to become more knowledgeable and well-rounded, but it also builds empathy and emotional intelligence.

“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

  • Practice gratitude. Giving thanks illumines the path. A critical spirit makes others small and limits your own spiritual eyesight. So, be gracious, all the time, every day, no matter what.

“Gratitude, like faith, is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it grows.” Alan Cohen

O Lord, your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Give us grace to receive your truth in faith and love, and strength to follow on the path you set before us; through Jesus Christ, Amen.

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