Summary: What does it mean when Jesus says He is the Light of the World? He spoke to a culture thoroughly verse in the Old Covenant, and so to understand the significance of His words, we will need to explore what the people heard when He spoke.
”Again Jesus spoke to [the Jewish leaders], saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ So the Pharisees said to him, ‘You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.’ Jesus answered, ‘Even if I do bear witness about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about Myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about Me.’ They said to him therefore, ‘Where is your Father?’ Jesus answered, ‘You know neither Me nor My Father. If you knew Me, you would know My Father also.’ These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; but no one arrested Him, because His hour had not yet come.
“So He said to them again, ‘I am going away, and you will seek Me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.’ So the Jews said, ‘Will he kill himself, since he says, “Where I am going, you cannot come”?’ He said to them, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am He you will die in your sins.’ So they said to Him, ‘Who are you?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to judge, but He who sent Me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from Him.’ They did not understand that He had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said to them, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on My own authority, but speak just as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.’”
"I am the Light of the world.” This is the second of seven great “I Am” sayings that are recorded in John’s Gospel. With these sayings, Jesus described His Person and His Mission. The other sayings are: “I am the Bread of Life” [*John 6:35*]; “I am the Door” [*John 10:9*]; “I am the Good Shepherd” [*John 10:11, 14*]; “I am the Resurrection and the Life” [*John 11:25*]; “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” [*John 14:6*]; and “I am the True Vine” [*John 15:1, 5*]. With these well-known words that are recorded in our text, Jesus our Lord identified a glorious aspect of His presence with His people. This statement discriminates, distinguishes between those who are saved and those who are lost—the former walking in light, and the latter living in darkness.
The saying in our text challenges each Christian to ask whether the Master’s light illuminates his or her life. That question is the focus of the message for this day. Each of us who name the Name of Christ Jesus the Lord should ask what those who were present when Jesus made this announcement heard. If we understand what they heard, we will have a very good idea of the importance of His words for our own lives. Join me in exploring the incident that occurred one year when Jesus injected fresh new meaning into the Feast of Booths.
*The Background to Jesus’ Announcement* — Reading the Bible in the original language as compared to reading contemporary English translations, is a bit like watching High Definition television compared to watching black and white television. The same pictures are displayed, but one is vivid and bright, and details that might otherwise escape the viewer are brought into sharp focus. This is true of little details that are evident in the Greek text of the Bible. For instance, our text begins with an adverb and a conjunction that is not evident in most English translations. The English text begins the verse with “so,” or “then,” or “again,” to indicate continuity—but continuity to what?
The Master’s words are a continuation of the 7th chapter of the Book. It is generally conceded by scholars who have carefully studied the original manuscripts that the passage telling of the woman taken in adultery has been misplaced in our text. *John 7:53* to *8:11* is a pericope that in all probability was not included in the original account that John drafted. The account does relate an actual event that occurred during Jesus’ ministry, but John likely did not include the account in the original draft of this Gospel. If he did include it, we may be assured from a variety of indications that it was not at this precise place. In the oldest manuscripts it is absent; in other manuscripts it is located in one of three different places in the Gospel; in many manuscripts is it included with an asterisk to indicate that the scribe understood that it was not meant to occur there; and in at least one ancient manuscript, it is included in Luke’s Gospel.