Summary: “I am the light of the world” is the highest claim that He has made so far in the Gospel of John. One of the definitions of God is that He is light (see 1 John 1:5). He is absolute in His holiness and in His justice.
Lesson: Christ—The Light of the World
Jesus had a method that He often followed. After an incident or a miracle, He gives a discourse on that subject.
(John 8:12) Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
"Then spake Jesus again unto them;” though he had already spoken a great deal to them with little results. They were opposed to what He said, and yet he spoke again. They had turned a deaf ear to what he said, and yet he spoke again to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.” The religious leaders did not know where they were going or where He was going because they were in the dark spiritually. They had the light of the Law and of conscience, but they did not have the light of life. Consequently, they did not know the Father or understand what Jesus taught them. It is our duty to follow him, to submit ourselves to his guidance, and in every thing take directions from him. Many follow false lights that lead them to destruction; but Christ is the true light. It is not enough to look at this light, and to gaze upon it, but we must follow it, believe in it, and walk in it, for it is a light to our feet, not to our eyes only. Follow Christ, and we shall undoubtedly be happy. Follow Christ, and we shall follow him to heaven.
Notice He says, “I am”—this “I am” occurs again and again. In the Old Testament, Jehovah is the “…I AM THAT I AM…” (Ex. 3:14). Very frankly, we are told very little about God. We do know He is the self-existing One, and that He has all wisdom and power. The Lord Jesus came to this earth not only to redeem man but also to reveal God to man. Jesus greatly expands our understanding by using the common place things like bread, light and water to symbolize Himself. He uses the ordinary to speak of the extraordinary, the physical to speak of the spiritual, the temporary to speak of the eternal, and the here-and-now to speak of the hereafter, the earthly to speak of the heavenly, the limited to speak of the unlimited, and the finite to speak of the infinite. Jesus gives us a revelation of God when He tells us He is Bread, He is Water, and He is Life. Then we understand, not only does God self-exist, but that He also meets our every need. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), “I an the door” (John 5:12), “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11), I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25), “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and “I am the vine, ye are the branches” (John 15:5).
Here is Jesus saying, “I am the light of the world.” He has exposed the sin of the scribes and Pharisees who brought the woman guilty of adultery. Because they were just as guilty as she, they had to run away. When one turns on the light, all the rats, and bats, and the bedbugs crawl away. Light exposes sin, which is the reason the scribes and Pharisees had to leave.
“I am the light of the world” is the highest claim that He has made so far in the Gospel of John. One of the definitions of God is that He is light (see 1 John 1:5). He is absolute in His holiness and in His justice. Even physical light is one of the most complicated things as well as one of the most complicated things for us. Who really knows what it is? In some ways it acts like waves, and in some ways it acts like particles of matter. The startling thing is that men, acting on both of these definitions of principles, have been able to make remarkable inventions and discoveries. Some say that both are true and yet others say both can’t be true. Is light the absence of darkness? Is darkness the absence of light? We say a room is filled with light. What do we mean? Does it weigh any more when it is filled with light? There could be no such thing as color without light. The red rose is red, because it has absorbed every other part of light except red. That is the reason we see red in the red rose.
We don’t understand light, and certainly a child doesn’t understand light, but he does know enough about it to turn on the light switch when he enters a dark room. Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. Just as the sun is the physical light of the world, He is the spiritual light. Just as a little child can have enough sense to come into the presence of light, so any sinner today, though he be “a fool and a wayfaring man” (see Isa. 35:8), can come into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.