We live in a dark world. It seems be getting darker lately. Into our sin-darkened world came Jesus Christ as “the Light [that] shines in the darkness” (1:5); “the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” (v. 9).
We all have a great need. We are not always aware of it, but the need is still there. We live in darkness and apart from Jesus: We cannot see into the future nor into the next world. We cannot see God, who He is and what He is like. We cannot see the real meaning, significance, and purpose in life. We cannot save ourselves from our sin or gain eternal life. We live in darkness morally and spiritually.
Our great need is to see “the Light of the world.”
12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “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
Jesus was speaking in that part of the temple known as the treasury, where the offerings were collected (8:20) and huge torches or lamps burned to symbolize the pillar of fire that led the people of Israel through the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-22). In this context, Jesus called himself the Light of the World. The pillar of fire in the wilderness had represented God’s presence, protection, and guidance.
In this modern age of electricity, we tend to take light for granted. We don’t realize how important it is until we have to do without it. How many of us have groped through ourhomes during a power outage as we tried to find candles or lanterns? Without light, it’s very difficult to find your way around. The Lord Jesus said He is “the Light of the world”. That is, He is our guide through this world, and helps us avoid pitfalls along the way. In Christ, God became light personified. Jesus brought God’s presence, protection, and guidance into the world in an approachable way.
Jesus said we would not walk in darkness if we followed Him.
What does it mean to follow the Lord? This word has three different, but closely related meanings.
- A soldier following his commander. Wherever the commander leads, the soldier follows him whether it is into battle, strange places, or on long marches. The believer is in the Lord’s army and is a soldier whose commander is the Lord Jesus Christ.
- A servant following his master. The servant was on call all the time to serve their master. Or today, people say, “I have to work late or overtime this week, the boss says.” Christ followers are servants to Christ, he is our boss. We are to be devoted to doing God’s will in our lives and following Him.
- A student following his Teacher’s instructions. The Christ follower is a person who follows the teaching of Jesus Christ after he has been saved. The believer receives His Word and puts it into practice in his life. He yields to the Lord in his body, soul, and spirit.
In claiming to be the light of the world, Jesus defined his unique position as the one true light for all people, not just the Jews. Isaiah wrote, “I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6 nkjv).
Death brings eternal darkness; but to follow Jesus means to never walk in darkness, but . . . have the light of life. When we follow Jesus—accepting him as Savior and Lord and following him—we are walking in his light. We no longer walk blindly in our sin, rather his light shows us our sin and our need of forgiveness, guides us along life’s pathway, and leads us into eternal life with him.
After Jesus said this, the Pharisees challenged him, John 8:13 “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.“NIV Jesus did not disagree with the Jewish law instead, he claimed that his testimony was true even if no one else bore witness: “for I know where I came from and where I am going.“NIV Jesus knew his origin and his destiny. In other words, Jesus knows God the Father, and the words that Jesus spoke were from the Father himself. Therefore when Jesus spoke, not only was he testifying for himself, but because he spoke the words of God, God was testifying for him as well. Countless believers have discovered that their consistent exposure and memorization of the words of Jesus have deepened their awareness of his divinity. His words ring true. Not knowing or obeying Christ’s words is our fault, not a reflection on their truthfulness.
People today are very willing to acknowledge the greatness of Jesus as a man but not to acknowledge him as God. By human standards, Jesus was the greatest man who ever lived. Yet human standards are not enough to portray all of Jesus’ true identity. Calling Jesus “great” is faint praise in light of his identity as God. Mere admiration of Jesus as a great leader or teacher falls short. Our response should be to acknowledge the darkness of our sin, accept Christ into our life that we may see the light.
A woman named Mrs. Crawford had been blind for fifty years. “I just can’t believe it!” she gasped as the doctor lifted the bandages from her eyes after her recovery from delicate surgery in an Ontario hospital. She wept for joy when for the first time in her life a dazzling and beautiful world of form and color greeted eyes that now were able to see.
The amazing thing about the story, however, is that twenty years of her blindness had been unnecessary. She didn’t know that surgical techniques had been developed, and that an operation could have restored her vision at the age of thirty. The doctor said, “She just figured there was nothing that could be done about her condition. Much of her life could have been different.” Why did she continue to assume that her situation was hopeless? Had no one told her about the wonderful advances in eye surgery? Is this not the plight of those who reject Christ? How many will go on living in moral blindness unless we tell them about the Savior? Many will never know anything but spiritual darkness because no one has shared with them the Light that has come into the world.
Have you accepted Christ, the Light of the world?
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John MacArthur, MacArthur New Testament Commentary – John 1-11, (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2006), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 332.
The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible – John, (Chattanooga: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “B. Man’s Need: The Light of the World, 8:12-20”.
Bruce B. Barton et al., Life Application Bible Commentary – John, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 172.
Rod Mattoon, Mattoon’s Treasures – Treasures from John, Volume 1, (Springfield, IL: Lincoln Land Baptist Church, n.d.), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 241-242.