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“I am the Light of the World.”
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.” (John 8:12-20)
There is a very close affinity between light and life. Where there is no light there is no life. Light is vital to life. We see this in the very beginning of the Book of God, in the very beginning of creation (Genesis 1:1-2:3). As it was in the creation of the world, so in the new creation of grace, when the Lord God moves upon the sin-darkened heart of his chosen, when he sends his Spirit to correct the chaos of the fall in his redeemed, he causes the Light to shine in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God; and that Light is our Lord Jesus Christ.
Throughout the Old Testament, our Lord Jesus was spoken of in type and in prophecy as the Light of Life. The Jews understood clearly that the Messiah would be the Light by which God would reveal himself to men (Isaiah 42:1-6; 49:6; 60:1-3). Christ was the pillar of fire that led and protected them. Christ was portrayed in the golden candlestick in the holy place. So, when the Lord Jesus announced in the temple treasury, “I AM the Light of the world,” those who heard him understood, or should have understood, that he announced himself as the Messiah, the Christ of God.
First, our Lord Jesus here reminds us that this world is a place of darkness, utter darkness. It is impossible to overstate the spiritual darkness of the world in which we live. I do not suggest for a moment that people are not enlightened academically, philosophically and politically. Multitudes are. But still “darkness covers the face of the earth, and gross darkness the people” (Job 5:14; 12:25; Isaiah 9:2).
What darkness, what thick, thick darkness engulfs this world! We live in a world morally degenerate and spiritually blind. What darkness people all around us live in day by day! Emotional anguish, mental torture, and domestic chaos are things with which multitudes constantly live in this world of darkness. What is the cause of the darkness? Why is it a constantly thickening blackness and darkness? — Fallen men and women are devoted to their own hearts’ lust (Ephesians 4:17-19).
Though learned in arts and sciences, the vast majority of men and women in this world know absolutely nothing about their own nature, the depravity of our race, the character of God, the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, sin, righteousness and judgment, the world to come, or God’s salvation. I want to be as personal as I possibly can. If you are without Christ, you live in darkness. You have no moral compass. You have no spiritual understanding. You have no guide for life.
Christ the Light
Second, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Light, the only light that can dispel the darkness that engulfs your soul. Here, the Lord Jesus says of himself, — “I AM the Light of the world.”
John’s Gospel was specifically intended to demonstrate the eternal deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. John was inspired by God the Holy Spirit to demonstrate the fact that our blessed Savior is himself God. This is evident form the very first sentences of this Gospel narrative (John 1:1-5).
John tells us of seven distinct statements made by our Savior in which He used the words “I AM” to display his Godhead, to declare himself the self-existent God who revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush. Every time we read where our Savior said, “I AM” we should understand that he is declaring, “I AM Jehovah-Jesus, God your Savior!”
More than 50 times John quotes the Lord Jesus saying to men, “I am He!” Here, in John 8:12, he calls himself “The Light of the world,” telling us plainly that he alone is the Light, that there is no light except him, for he is God, Jehovah, the great “I AM!” — “I AM the Light of the world” (John 9:5; 12:35, 46). John picks up this same theme in his fist Epistle (1 John 1:5).
The crucified Christ is risen like the sun, to diffuse light, and life, and peace, and salvation, to sin darkened souls in the midst of a dark, dark world. What the sun is to the whole solar system — the center of light, and heat, and life, and fertility — that the Sun of Righteousness is to all upon whom he shines the life-giving beams of his saving grace. The light of reason is unreasonable. The light of liberty is bondage. The light of education is ignorance. The light of conscience is unconscionable. The light of religion is blasphemy. He only is the true Light Who came into the world to save sinners, who died as our Substitute on the cross, and sits at God’s right hand to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him. — “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Psalms 36:9).
Immediately, the Pharisees jumped on our Lord with his own words (v. 13), quoting what he had said back in John 5:31. — “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.” But, when they thought he was trapped by his own words, our Savior seized the opportunity and asserted that he is the Son of God, One with the Father (vv. 16-18).
He was not separate from the Father when he walked through this world. He was in the Father’s bosom in heaven, as the Son of God, though as the Son of Man, our incarnate God, he was standing in front of them. And he was not alone in his testimony and judgment. Here, too, he and the Father were and are One. As the Son reveals the Father the Father verifies the Son. So, by the very law they hoped to use against him, the Savior says to his detractors, “the testimony of two men is true” (v. 17; Deuteronomy 19:15). He asserted again and again that he is the Christ, the Son of God; and the Father bore witness to his claims at his baptism, on the mount of transfiguration, by the rent veil, and by the outpouring of his Spirit.
Christ Jesus, our Lord, is the Light of the World. He alone reveals God to the world, man to himself, and salvation to sinners. By his substitutionary atonement at Calvary, he alone shows us how God can be just and yet justify guilty sinners.
Third, we see here that believers are people who follow Christ. — “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (v. 12).
To follow Christ is to commit yourself to him as your only Lord and Savior. To follow Christ is to submit yourself to him, bowing to his will and his rule. — “Following” is just another word for “believing.” It is the same act of soul, only seen from a different point of view. As Israel followed the pillar of cloud and fire in all their wilderness journey — moving whenever it moved, stopping whenever it stopped, asking no questions, marching on in faith — so must we must follow Christ. Believers are people who “follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth” (Revelation 14:4). We follow His doctrine, his precepts, and his direction in our lives.
Those who follow Christ do “not walk in darkness.” They are not left in ignorance, like the many around them. They do not grope in doubt and uncertainty, like the blind man our Savior healed. They see clearly. They “have the light of life.” They are all taught of God. Walking in the Light we see light. We see, and see clearly who God is (Holy and Sovereign — Just and Merciful — Gracious and True). We see, and see clearly what we are. — Sinners saved by grace! We see, and see clearly who Christ is, what he did, why he did it, where he is now, and what he’s doing there. We see, and see clearly how God saves sinners (By Divine Resolve — By Divine Righteousness — By Divine Redemption — By Divine Regeneration — By Divine Resurrection).
Walking in the Light, we recognize that light has many different affects upon those upon whom it shines. Light is repulsive to creatures who love darkness. If you turn over a log in the woods, bugs will run everywhere, because they are creatures of darkness. Light is repulsive to them. In the same way, the light of the Gospel is repulsive to men and women who live in darkness (John 3:14-19).
Light is revealing to those upon whom the light shines (2 Corinthians 4:3-6). Light revives the earth, and causes it to spring with life. Just as plants grow by the light of the sun, we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we walk in His light.
Light is restful. Like the light of the sun which warms us creating a place of peace, Christ Jesus, the Light, brings us to a place of peace. We gain peace because the burden of sin is lifted and the path through life and to our eternal home is made clear and sure, all mapped out and arranged for us. We are secure in him; and that gives rest in our souls. It is like the joy and comfort of seeing the porch light at your own home after being away from your family for a while.
And light is reflected. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so when the Sun of Righteousness is risen upon the soul, the heaven born soul reflects the Light in which he lives (Matthew 5:14-16).
Not in Darkness
Fourth, those who follow Christ the Light “shall not walk in darkness.” We do not walk in the darkness of the unregenerate. Believers do not walk in the darkness of unbelief, the darkness of religious superstition, and the darkness of heresy. We walk in the Light of the Gospel. That means that we know who we are, whose we are, and where we are going. Though we were blind, now we see. Though once we believed not, now we know whom we have believed. Walking in the Light we know that we are in Christ and Christ is in us. We are in the covenant of grace and in the love of God. And are going to heaven and eternal happiness.
Christ is the Light that cannot be quenched. The lights with which many please themselves flicker in trial and go out in the valley of the shadow of death, and prove worse than useless. But the light that Christ is and the Light He gives shall never fail.
Know not God
Fifth, those who do not know Christ, those who do not follow the Light, do not know God. Our Savior told the Pharisees standing before him that, with all their pretended light, they were utterly void of the knowledge of God (v. 19).
The Man Christ Jesus, our Mediator, the sinner’s Substitute and Surety, is the only saving revelation of God. He is the Wisdom of God and the Word of God. To know him is to know God and have eternal life. To be ignorant of Christ, is to be ignorant of God and dead in trespasses and in sins. May God give you grace to know him and to live by him. Oh, may God the Holy Spirit grant that we who know him and live by him may yet grow to know him who loved us and gave himself for us (Philippians 3:10).
 Our Lord had been interrupted by the Pharisees who brought the adulterous woman before him. Once he had bestowed on that poor sinner the mercy and grace of free forgiveness, he walked over to the treasury (the very prominent place where the priests put the temple offering boxes), and continued preaching.