John 8:12 (NLT)
Jesus, The Light of the World
12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
TIME OF DAY:
The flaming torch carried by Jesus illuminates this scene.
This scene shows Jesus standing with a flaming torch in his hand, which represents the light he refers to in the narrative. I decided to show Jesus above the world, representing his divine, supernatural nature.
Incidentally, the world below Jesus shows the Red Sea region of the Middle East.
This is the second of 7 famous statements that Jesus made, starting with “I am…”.
01. The Bread Of Life
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)
02. The Light Of The World
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.” (John 8:12)
03. The Gate
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)
04. The Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
05. The Resurrection And The Life
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)
06. The Way, The Truth, And The Life
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
07. The Vine
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
What might Jesus have meant by referring to himself as the light of the world?
Point 01. Jesus is making a claim to deity. This statement is the first of the “I AM” statements in John’s Gospel. The phrase “I AM” is the covenant name of God (Yahweh, or YHWH), revealed to Moses during the incident with the burning bush (see Exodus 3:14). The phrase speaks of aseity, which means self-sufficient existence, which is an attribute ONLY God possesses.
Of course, this phrase was very well known to the Jews who were listening to Jesus… they would have automatically understood his statement as a claim to deity… which is why they frequently wanted to stone Jesus, or else throw him off a cliff: they thought he was blaspheming.
Point 02. “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12) is only recorded in John’s gospel, no other. In declaring Himself to be THE Light of the world, Jesus was claiming that He is the exclusive source of spiritual light; & by inference, there is no other source of spiritual truth available to mankind.
Point 03. There are two types of light in the world: physical light & spiritual light. Physical light is vital for physical life. We know this from studying plants that use sunlight to manufacture sugars (photosynthesis). The earth would certainly degrade and die if there were no longer any sunlight available.
Point 04. The other kind of “light” is spiritual in nature; spiritual light is necessary for spiritual life. The Christian believer will always “lean” toward spiritual things; he/she will always tend toward fellowship, prayer, the Word of God, etc. The unbeliever prefers the darkness (see John 1:5; 3:19–20) because light exposes sin/evil. Indeed, as John 6:37 states, no man can come into the true spiritual light of Jesus Christ, unless he is enabled: God has to take the initiative. In a similar way that we might take a physical light into a room to dispel the darkness, so the Light of Jesus Christ has to be taken into the darkness of sin that engulfs the heart and life of those who are not following Him. If we do not follow Him, we will not have this light, this truth, this eternal life.
Point 05. Jesus came as the Light of the world. Similarly, He commands us to be “lights,” as well. In Matthew 5:14–16 we see Christian believers spoken of as the light of the world. Believers reflect the Light of Christ so that all can see it in us. The Light is evident to others by the good deeds we do in faith and through the power of the Holy Spirit. The moon has no light of its own, it simply reflects the light of the sun. In the same way, we reflect the light of Christ to the needy, dark, sinful world.
Point 06. Christian believers will never walk in darkness, which is a reference to the assurance of salvation we continually enjoy. As true followers of the Light of Christ, we should never follow the ways of sin, never live in a state of continually sinning (see 1 John 1:5–7). Rather, we repent of our sinful ways, so that we may stay close to the Light of the world.
Point 07. The gospel Light we have is not to be covered, but should be made obvious for all to see and benefit from. We are told not to hide our light beneath a basket/bushal, but to put it on it’s stand, so that it gives light to everyone in the house (Matthew 5:15).