I am the light of the world
Jesus is both the brightness of the Father’s glory (Hebrews 1:3) and the light of the world (John 8:12). Let’s think about that for a minute.
The Father radiates. His nature is luminous. His being shines out. You cannot think of the sun without sunshine and, just so, you cannot think of the Father without the Son. The Father, through His Son, spreads to that which is beyond Him. He graces the other with His own presence. He blesses it with His glory. There has always been this outgoing movement to God.
The world receives. The world is not a light source. The world is either enlightened from without or it must remain shrouded in darkness. The world cannot contribute to its illumination – that which is shone upon is completely passive. An other-worldly light must dawn.
So the Father radiates, the world receives… and the Son is that light which falls. Jesus is the Brightness of the Father’s glory and the Light of the world. Without Him, there is no radiant God. Without Him the world is helplessly dark.
In the Bible, darkness points to three related truths.
Darkness means ignorance. We speak of people being dim or unenlightened. In Scripture, darkness often refers to our ignorance of God. Spike Milligan was once asked if he ever prayed. He answered “Yes I do pray, desperately, all the time. I just have no idea who I’m praying to.” Such ignorance of God is tragic, but it’s the human condition. Without Jesus we do not know Him who holds our very lives in His hands. That’s darkness.
But also, darkness is where we hide from God. Darkness represents our rebellion. We don’t want our lives brought out into the light. No-one wants to be exposed to the clear light of day. So, even though it’s a cold, dark captivity, we all like to live apart from God. We are rebels. Stuck in our ways, stuck in the dark.
Finally, darkness speaks of death. We have already considered the valley of the shadow of death. That’s where we live! Death overshadows all we do and leaves us in the cold and in the dark. We all have a certain number of heart-beats left. And every beat moves us closer to death. This is the shadow of death – a terrifying darkness.
Such is our helpless condition. But the Father shines out His life giving glory. And that glory is called Jesus. He stands on the earth, as united to the Father as a sunbeam to the sun. So as we look to Him, we see the Father’s blazing splendour in the face of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). And He in turn sees us in the light of His Son.
To all those floundering in darkness, Jesus says:
“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)