Day 12: Jesus is the Light of the World
இயேசுவே உலகத்தின் ஒளி (Tamil)
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
Who would you say is a better person, Saul or David? Saul saved an enemy king’s life, whereas David had his own soldier killed; David committed adultery, but there is no indication that Saul ever committed adultery! Yet David was the man after God’s own heart! How can this be? The difference between the two men can be seen in what they did after they were confronted with their mistakes. When Samuel confronted Saul, he asked Samuel to honour him before the people (1 Samuel 15:30). When Nathan confronted David, he confessed his sin publicly (Psalm 51). David was willing to walk in the light, whereas Saul continued to walk in darkness. This illustrates the significance of Jesus’ claim that he is the light.
Jesus’s second “I am” saying, in John 8:12, continues the theme started in John 1:1-9 where light is the dominant theme that John uses to introduce Jesus. It also builds on the Old Testament portrayal of God as light (Psalm 27:1).
As the light of the world, Jesus reveals the Father to us. If we want to understand what the invisible God looks like, we must look at Jesus (John 17:26).
As the light of the world, Jesus also reveals our own selves to us. This seems to be the main point in John 8:12, where Jesus not only defined who He is but also who His follower is. The follower of Jesus does not walk in darkness but has the light of life.
What does it mean to walk in the darkness? Those who walk in the darkness do not know where they are going (12:35), presumably because they cannot see. So, walking in the light means knowing where we are going because we can see. We see Jesus, who leads the way by His life and teaching. Note that Jesus did not say, “I give light to the world.” He is the light. If we are to make use of His light, we have to follow Him—obeying His commands, imitating His example, and going in the same direction as He went. This does not entail a sinless life. Rather, it is a life in which we recognize our sins and are quick to confess them and turn back to the light when we go astray (1 John 1:5-9).
Sometimes, we think that others are the light. When we compare ourselves with others, we may think that we are nice people, doing well, and heading in the right direction. But when we look at our life in the light of Jesus, then we see what true righteousness looks like. This is what happened in the story that immediately precedes Jesus’ saying in John 8. The men who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery left one by one when challenged by Jesus to start with the sinless among them. When Jesus confronted them, when His light shone into their lives, they rightly saw both themselves and their neighbour, the woman.
When you lift large stones in the garden, you will see all kinds of crawling insects. In the same way, there will be things in our hearts under which we hide our secrets. Only when we are ready to lift those stones and expose those areas to the light of Jesus are we following him completely.
Today, we are often more ready to justify our sins than to confess them. In my own context, I have heard many Christians justify their lies in the name of speaking the truth in love (Eph 4:15). For example, when the leaders of a Christian organisation make a mistake, they try to cover up their mistakes in the name of protecting the organisation. When you try to save someone by lying for them, there is always another person hurting because of your lies. When we let the light of Christ shine into our lives and expose our sins, we need to accept and confess them and trust God to use the results for our good and His glory.
The forgiveness Jesus won for us on the cross gives us the freedom to do just that! Praise God that Jesus, as the light, reveals to us a God of grace and mercy who empowers us to walk in the light, who is eager to forgive when we repent, and who receives us into His presence forever.
Dr M. Alroy Mascrenghe lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka. With support from Langham, he writes commentaries on the books of the Bible in his mother language, Tamil, and Langham supports him in this endeavour. His books are used in more than 15 countries as the Tamil diaspora is spread all around the world.