Chris continues our series on the 7 "I AM" statements in the book of John, speaking on Jesus as the Light of the world in John 8:12-17.
Last week we considered the first ‘I am’ statement of Jesus. ‘I am the bread of life’.
We looked back in the book of Exodus to see the depth of meaning in that statement. In the same way that the Israelites in the wilderness, received manna to sustain them, we receive, and are nourished by Jesus Christ.
This evening, we are considering his statement in John 8:12
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
These words form a biblical concept that runs through the whole of scripture.
At the very beginning of Genesis, in Chapter 1:3 we read:
“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.”
The theme of light versus darkness clearly made a deep impression on John. At the beginning of his gospel we read:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
God’s first word into this world was ‘Let there be light.’
According to John, the word was with God in the beginning. Jesus said ‘I am the light of the world.’ Therefore, Jesus, the true light, was with God at the beginning. If you put these things together, you might as well be hearing God saying:
‘Let there be my son! Through this light all things are created! Through this word all things are created! Through my son all things are created! He is the light of the world, the light of all mankind!’
Perhaps we need to expand our thinking about Jesus. Jesus is here presenting himself as the one who has been there right from the beginning of creation, and as the one through whom every created thing was brought into existence. This must expand the nature and power of Jesus beyond our imaginings.
The second thing we read in these verses in John 8 is:
‘Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.’
As we have already read in verse 5:’ The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.’
I am a JRR Tolkien geek and it is clear that the imagery of light and dark had a massive impact on his writings. In ‘The Silmarillion’, we are given a description of the creation of Middle Earth. Here, Tolkien uses light to create and sustain two special trees and the light of the world is wrapped up in these two trees. Biblical imagery is clearly evident here. As one would expect, the evil spirits hate the light. A grotesque spider-like creature called Ungoliant particularly hates the light. She inhabits all the dark places and sucks all the light out of the world, becoming more grotesque in the process. In sucking the light out of the two trees and taking their life away, darkness begins to take over the world, leaving only evil and bitterness.
In Genesis, the world was created good, through light. Adam and Eve walked openly with God in the daylight, without any fear. But, seduced to take fruit from the forbidden tree, they turn from trusting in the word of God, which gives light and life, to be left with only darkness and death. Their action brought sin into the world.
To walk in darkness means to turn from God, to become the god of our own life, making our own decisions and placing our faith and security in all the things around us which have become our idols. This describes our culture; it describes you and it describes me.
There is darkness in the world today. Covid 19 is like some kind of Ungoliant sucking the light and joy from our lives. We feel exposed and vulnerable. Our idols of money and jobs suddenly show themselves to be flaky and one-dimensional fickle gods. How could we have placed so much trust in them in the first place? In this situation it can be very easy to feel that the darkness is overcoming.
But we must follow the light.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” [V5]
Jesus shines like a beacon in the darkness. The darker the world becomes, the brighter He shines. As the world gets harder, He seems so much more appealing. We should be on our knees crying out to Him to bring us back into the light. Let us trust in Him, not in these things around us.
The best news of all is that we never have to walk in darkness if we are following Jesus, because he is the light of life. And all who follow him have the light of life.
He can deal with the darkness in this world; in our life; in us; because no darkness can stand up to his light. He is light and life! When he came into this world, was nailed to a cross, and sank into the darkness of death, it could not contain him. Jesus defeated death and darkness and blazed a trail to eternal life for those who follow him.
Take heart! Although, in ourselves we are darkness, Jesus’ light can obliterate that! We can follow him into the garden, into a new creation, into a life of eternal joy with no darkness - forever.
If you don’t know this Jesus as the light of the world, as the life-giving light, why not turn to him now?
And for those of us who do know Jesus as our saviour, take heart, because we will never walk in darkness. He will see us through to be with him in eternity.
John 8:12 - 8:17
12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14 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. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 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. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true.