We have said it already. It is written in the volumes of history. His words stand firm and unchallenged.
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)
Many people have come and gone, claiming to be God, to be the Messiah, to bring salvation, healing, meaning to life and other benefits. Just Google the list of Messiah-claimants in Judaism, Christianity and Islam – it is long and tiresome. None of those names have endured even a fraction of the time that the name of Jesus has.
No-one in the history of all mankind has ever said: I am the light of the world.
The word light occurs in the Fourth Gospel no fewer than twenty-one times. Jesus is the light of men. The calling of John the Baptist was to point men to that light which was in Christ. Twice Jesus calls himself the light of the world (John 8:12, John 9:5).
This light can be in men (John 11:10), so that they can become children of the light (John 12:36), “I have come,” said Jesus, “as light into the world” (John 12:46).
- Jesus brings the light, which puts chaos to flight. He is the one person who can save life from becoming chaos.
- Jesus brings light, which shows things as they are. It strips away the disguises and concealments. It shows people and circumstances in their true character and values. It is light that reveals truth.
- Jesus brings guiding light – a light that brings certainty and confidence. Doubt and confusion flee when He is crowned the King of your life.
Darkness in the world is as real as the light (John 1:5).
The unconquerable light will in the end defeat the hostile dark. John is saying: “Choose your side in the eternal conflict and choose right.”
It is men whose deeds are evil who fear the light (John 3:19-20). The man who has something to hide loves darkness. Darkness is used symbolically. It also indicates blindness. Jesus says: “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness” (John 8:12).
Without Jesus Christ a man cannot find or see direction for his life.
“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came, while it was still dark, John writes in John 20:1. He describes the atmosphere before the news of the resurrection as dark to contrast the magnificence of life.
He tells how Judas dipped his hand in the bowl with Jesus and then went out to do his dark work. Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night. (John 13:30).
Although men through all the ages did all they could to obscure and extinguish the light of God in Christ, they could not quench it. In every generation the light of Christ still shines in spite of the efforts of men to extinguish the flame.
Darkness will never win. Darkness might be symbolical, but you cannot hide from God. God is also in the darkness. Wherever you may find yourself and may feel it is too dark, too evil, too far away from light – God is there to hear you cry.
So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was. (Exodus 20:21)
Within the first five verses of this Gospel we see a culmination of every philosophy, every concept of deity, every confusion of thought as well as logical thought plus all the Roman, Greek, Persian and Egyptian models of gods and their functioning. John states the boldest statement in all of history – Jesus is the One everything points to and the answer to every possible question and argument ever.
John the Baptist was witness to the Light, just as we are witnesses, not the light itself. (John 1:6-8)
For 400 years the prophetic voice was silent until John the Baptist. It seems that certain people were so fascinated by John that they gave him a higher place than he ought to have had.
John denies that he is first and declares that he must decrease while Jesus increased (John 3:25-30). Jesus was more successful in his appeal to men than John was (John 4:1). The people said that John was not able to do the things that Jesus did (John 10:41).
This Gospel warns greatly against the following of a mere man, instead of following the risen Christ. The true prophet will always point to Jesus. He emphasizes that John the Baptist was only a witness.
We know Jesus is the Christ by various witnesses. There is the:
- witness of Jesus himself. “I bear witness,” he said, “to myself” (John 8:18). “My testimony is true” (John 8:14).What Jesus was in himself was the best witness that his claims were true.
- witness of his works. He said: “The works which the Father has granted me to accomplish … bear me witness” (John 5:36).
“Believe me for the sake of the works themselves” (John 14:11). One of the condemnations of men is that they have seen his works, and have not believed (John 15:24). No man could have done the mighty works that Jesus did unless he was closer to God than any other man ever was.
- witness which the Scriptures bear to him. Jesus said: “Search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me” (John 5:39). “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46). It is Philip’s conviction that he has found him of whom Moses and the law and the prophets wrote (John 1:45).
- witness of the last of the prophets, John the Baptist. “He came for testimony to bear witness to the light” (John 1:7-8).
- witness of those with whom Jesus came into contact. The woman of Samaria bore witness to the insight and to the power of Jesus (John 4:39). The man born blind bore witness to his healing power (John 9:25;John 9:38). The people who witnessed his miracles told of their awe at the things he did (John 12:17).
- witness of the disciples and especially of the writer of the gospel himself it was Jesus’ commission to his disciples: “You also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:27). And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth” (1 John 5:7). Spirit brought God’s truth to men, and the Spirit enabled men to recognize that truth when they saw it.
For us: God will always give us confirmation with a witness. Be aware of unconfirmed prophecy. God will show you. His path is not darkness and uncertainty.
“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. (Deuteronomy 19:15)
1:9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
There are two Greek words for true: alethes and alethinos. The first one means true as opposed to false and the second one means real as opposed to unreal. He uses the second as it is explained: answering to the perfect ideal, and as opposed to all more or less imperfect representations. [Ellicott].
John states his case like a lawyer so that there is no doubt who Jesus is.
There are partial lights and there are false lights; and men follow them. Jesus is the only genuine light, the real light to guide men on their way. Jesus is the dawn in a dark world.
Knowledge of Him could drive away the shadows of doubt. By His coming the people could know God; a mystery no more. When Jesus came men saw what God is like. The guessing was over. The light had come.
A new power came into life. It was the answer to despair. Jesus showed the right way and how to walk in it. The way was made clear. He made the impossible possible.
The darkness and terror of death was engulfed in His promise of life eternal. The ancient world feared death; it was torture by whatever gods there were. Jesus showed that death was only the way to a larger life.
The ancient world was exclusive. The Jew hated the Gentile and held that Gentiles were created for no other purpose than to be fuel for the fires of hell. The ancient prophet, Isaiah, saw that Israel’s destiny was to be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6). The Romans feared Christianity because it robbed them of their exclusiveness.
Our world in confusion and strife has only one solution – to believe in Jesus and be united in love. Any other unity and peace are impossible.
Jesus as a man and His doctrine were unique and a welcome relief from the terrifying uncertainty of ancient gods and the search for knowledge of the mysteries of life.
Where is He today? He is the guiding light, the only source of peace and truth. He is real life. He is victory over the darkness.
By grace and the cross – He is mine! Have you made the step into life – true Life?