Summary: When we believe in Christ, the Light of the World, He delivers us from the darkness. The darkness is still there, and it’s still deadly, but it cannot overcome the light of the Lord.
Say you’re out in the bush somewhere at nighttime. All around it’s very dark, just the murkiness of midnight, and you’re a bit scared. You’re glad you have your flashlight, and glad the moon is shining. And when you come to a hill, and you look out over the treetops, you’re even gladder when you see a light in the distance. A house. Or a cluster of lights, and you know it’s a small village. Because where there’s light, there’s life.
We love light, because darkness is never far away. Right now it’s bright and sunny, but before long the sun will start descending toward the horizon again. And when the sun disappears, night-time and darkness begin.
Darkness is near, also when you’re at home. Your kitchen or bedroom might be lit up with lamps, but flick the switch, and you’re in the dark. Where the light is taken away, shadows and gloom invade.
That sounds a lot like our life as Christians. For we’re living between two worlds, always on the threshold between darkness and light. We’re pulled by good, and pushed by evil. There is the way of the Holy Spirit within us, and the way of our sinful flesh. Scripture calls it the battle between the kingdom of darkness and of light. And it’s a struggle that we experience each day.
But here is a life-changing truth: we know the light! We don’t just have access to a good light supply, like holding onto a flashlight with sufficient batteries. We don’t just have the light, we know the light! We’re connected to it, for the light has come to us, in Christ who said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). I preach God’s Word to you on this theme,
I am the Light of the World:
1) behold Christ’s shining light
2) avoid the danger of darkness
3) walk in the light of life
1) beholding Christ’s shining light: If you will live, you need light. This is an elementary truth, and it is seen in God’s creation in so many ways. As an example, think of how plants need light. Say someone gives you a new houseplant, and you do your best to keep it alive. You water it, give it plant food—you even talk to it—but you forget one thing: you don’t put it where it can absorb any sunlight. It goes into a dark corner of your house, where it soon begins to look sickly and then to wilt and turn yellow. It needs light.
Plants need light, and people do too. So the Scriptures often connect light with life. There is Job 33:20. There it says that God will “bring back [a man’s] soul from the Pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.” To be lit with God’s light is to live! Even in the beginning, Genesis 1 tells us that light was the first gift of creation, when God said, “Let there be light” (1:3). Without this first gift, nothing else would have meaning.
Because light is so central to life, Scripture speaks of how God is light. We love the words of Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” When everything around you is dark, when you feel you’re without hope, God shines in his perfect glory. The LORD is surrounded by never-failing light, and He shares this light with his people.
So too, when we’re confused and we don’t know where to turn. Then God lights our darkened way with his brilliant Word. Says Psalm 119: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (v 105). The LORD is our light: life-giving, life-directing, and life-sustaining.
That brings us to how John speaks about Jesus in his Gospel. If we turn back to John 1, we read this about the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. John says: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (1:4). By his coming into this world as the Saviour sent from God, Jesus was ‘the light of men.’ He brought an all-powerful light, for by his coming, Jesus carried true light into our darkness.
For by his light, we begin to see things as they really are. Jesus has shown the truth to all of mankind: the truth about who we are as depraved and hopeless sinners, the truth about God in his awesome justice and mercy, and the truth about how we can be accepted by God again. By his light we see these things clearly.
He came as “the light of the world.” Now, probably before anything else, we should understand that last phrase. We tend to view the world as hostile toward us, as one of our three sworn enemies: the devil, our own sinful flesh, and the world. So then, what does it mean that Jesus is a light to the world?