Summary: What does it mean that Jesus is the "light of the world"?
Intro – (List of ‘Children’s questions to God’ that ends with the following one…)
We read Thomas Edison made light. But the Bible says You did. So I bet he stole your idea.
This morning Jesus declares the obvious truth that a little girl noted… all light originates in God.
As we continue our series A Journey with Jesus through the Gospel of John, we come to one of the great declarations.
(Throughout our series we have considered full sections as we have progressed through the text…
but this morning just one statement.)
John 8:12 (NIV)
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows
me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
Profound words… more than we might initially be able to comprehend.
As you may recall from previous weeks…. Jesus has come to Jerusalem during one of the great
Festivals.. it is the Feast of the Tabernacles God had inaugurated this feast to help the people of
Israel to remember that for forty years they had wandered in the wilderness before God finally
brought them into the Promised Land. On the opening night of the celebration a couple of giant
Menorah or candelabras were erected in the Court of the Women. Each was reported to be 75 ft.
tall, with huge bowls at the top. Each bowl held 10 gallons of oil. Ancient accounts said that the
light from these huge candelabra literally lit up the streets of Jerusalem. At the end of the feast, the
lights were purposely put out. Why? because the Messiah had not yet come. Some scholars propose
that it is at this point that Jesus makes his declaration. Every Jewish person knew the significance of
the menorahs. They represented the presence of God among the Israelites in the wilderness in the
form of what is referred to as the Shekinah. It was this visible presence of God in the form of a
cloud by day and fire by night that guided the children of Israel. (Elements drawn from
It is against this backdrop of events that Jesus makes His declaration in verse twelve,
“ “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the
light of life.”
> Jesus is declaring that the guiding presence and power of God is now here…in himself.
Today… many like to speak of being ‘enlightened’… and of Jesus as one of the most enlightened
who ever lived. But is Jesus simply declaring himself to be an enlightened spiritual teacher?
No one who heard him would mistake that he was declaring something so much more profound…
and meaningful to all of humanity than that. I say ‘more’ because he certainly does bear so much of
what is sought from those deemed ‘spiritually enlightened.’ People one who can offer the way,,,
the truth… and spiritual life. Jesus has declared just that he offers such… but not as a way…
but THE way, THE truth… and THE life. And here there is no question that he his claiming
to be THE presence unlike any other.
Jesus is not simply saying that he was “a” light to the world or that he was “another” light to
the world. Jesus is not saying that He is holding the light or that He has the light or even that He is
the way to THE light. He is declaring that He is the one and only light of the world.
This is the light of God’s presence being celebrated. He is declaring I am the Shekinah glory that
these candelabras symbolize. I AM the Shekinah glory.”
I want us to consider for just a few moments what Jesus is truly fulfilling and providing for our
lives. I want to consider the purpose of that light in the wilderness that Jesus now fulfills in a
more ultimate way.
1. In Jesus is the provision of God’s Presence.
The biblical record (Exodus & Numbers) reveals how the two pillars which guided the people of
Israel marked the presence of God in a dramatic way.
We read of the way in which God spoke from the cloud and that sometimes He broke forth from the
cloud in judgment upon the sins of the people (Ex. 13:21-22). At no time during their wandering in
the wilderness did the people of Israel forget that the presence of God was with them every step of
In Numbers 9:17-23 we are told of the relationship of the children of Israel to the pillar of cloud
and pillar of fire. Essentially it was very simple, when the cloud moved, the people followed. When
the cloud stood still, they remained where they were (Num. 9:18).