In John 8, Jesus said he is the light of the world. We already talked about the Jewish background of that statement in regard to the Feast of Tabernacles in a previous article. In this article I want us to explore what it means in practical terms for Jesus to be the light of the world.
It is tempting to make the discussion purely intellectual. We might say that Jesus is the light of the world in that he illuminates the truth, just as light shows us what is really there. That is an accurate assessment but it is not complete.
Jesus shows us what is truly true…he illuminates the truth to what end? I believe the answer to that question is Jesus lights the way to show us truth so that we can and will walk in that truth in community.
Jesus being the light of the world is not theoretical or purely philosophical. I believe we see this most clearly in 1 John 1 & 2.
“5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”1 John 1:5-7
God is light…to what end? To the end that we are “walking” in God’s light. It isn’t enough for the light of Jesus or God to show us what is on the path…He shows us what is truly on the path so that we can *walk* in that truth (not just believe the truth…I think we could question whether or not we can know the truth without living the truth because you don’t truly know something until you life it). Walking in truth doesn’t make us sinless because he says that even as we walk in the light we are still being purified of our sin, not that we have avoided sin entirely.
Or how about 1 John 2 where John wrote this,
“9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”1 John 2:9-11
Again, we see that Jesus being the light shines his light not as a purely philosophical exercise that gives us superior knowledge of what is truly before us…but that Jesus being the light and shining the light is done with the express purpose of encouraging us toward ethical behavior and love of neighbor.
Jesus is the light so that we will walk in that light…not so that we can assess the light, examine the light, talk about the light’s qualities, etc…but that we can experience what life is like walking in the light. And what that looks like is a lot like love in real time with real people!