Light of the World

12th study in the series on the ‘Names of Christ’ 
adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 12 Oct 2007

“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” (John 8:12).

Christ is known in many ways in the Scriptures. We call all these references by the general term ‘names of Christ’. But, as I mentioned, they are not necessarily names as is commonly understood, such as ‘Jesus’ and ‘Immanuel.’ Some of them are titles, some of them are prophetic allusions, while others are metaphorical descriptions of the person and works of Christ.

The seven ‘I am’ statements of our Lord in the Gospel of John are some of the best examples of these descriptions. These are some of the most graphic names of Christ provided by the master teacher himself:

· ‘I am the Bread of Life” (Jn 6:35).

· “I am the light of the world” (Jn 8:12);

· “I am the door of the sheep” (Jn 10:7);

· “I am the good shepherd” (Jn 10:11);

· “I am the resurrection, and the life” (Jn 11:25);

· “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6);

· “I am the true vine” (Jn 15:1).

We have already looked at the name ‘Bread of Life’ in which we saw how Christ nourishes us body and soul.

In this second study, we want to look at Christ’s self-designation as the ‘Light of the world.’

1. The Context

This name is found in John 8:12—

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 context of our Lord’s announcement is his encounter with the woman caught in adultery.

It happened around September A.D. 32, towards the end of our Lord’s 3rd year of ministry. The Lord had gone to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. And as was his custom, our Lord would go to the Mount of Olives to retire for the night and then return to the temple in the morning. One morning just as he sat down to teach a crowd that was gathering around him, a group of Scribes and Pharisees interrupted him noisily. They thrust a woman in front of him and told him that the woman had been caught in adultery in the very act.

They wanted to know what he would do to her. They reminded him that the Law of Moses required that she should be stoned, but they wanted to know what he would say.

It was a trap. If he had said: ‘Stone her’, he would not only get into trouble with the Roman law, but he would lose the following of common people, for he would procure a reputation of being heartless. But if he had said: “Let her go,” the Scribes and Pharisees would immediately declare to all that he had no regard for the law of God (regardless of the fact that the judicial law of the Old Testament was not directly applicable to them since they were under Roman rule).

Our Lord in his wisdom replied, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (v. 7). The scribes and Pharisees were stunned. They knew the power of his response. None of them were without sin.

One by one the accusers began to slink away, beginning from the oldest to the youngest until the woman was left standing there alone.

The Lord who was writing on the ground, looked up and asked the woman “Where are those, thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” The woman replied, “No man, Lord.”

Then the Lord told the woman: “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (v. 11).

I wonder if the crowd, which was watching on as the drama unfolded, might have clapped their hands when they saw what happened.

Our Lord must have silenced them, and the first thing he told them was:

I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

What does he mean? I believe what our Lord is saying is that he brings spiritual light to the world of darkness.

We may think of it in three ways.

First, as light brings safety by exposing dangers; so Christ brings safety by exposing dangers. Those who walk in darkness will tend to trip, stumble and fall. Light illumines the darkness so that we can walk safely.

So Christ illumines our paths by His Word and His Spirit so that those who follow him may walk in safety until they reach the celestial city.

The Scribes and Pharisees were walking in darkness. Their minds were twisted and darkened. Instead of using their minds to glorify God, they were using it to trap the Son of God. Instead of expending their energy to do good, they were trying to bolster their self-image by tearing the Lord down. Instead of mortifying sin, they were trying to hide their wickedness by trumpeting the sin of the woman caught in adultery.

Our Lord exposed their hypocrisy so that those who follow him would cease to walk on the path of danger that leads to destruction as did these Scribes and Pharisees.

Christ, the Light of the world reveals sin hidden from human eyes so that we may flee to safety.

Secondly, light brings freedom. Darkness binds and imprisons. How does darkness bind and imprison? It binds and imprisons because those who sit in darkness dare not move. They have no confidence to live for God. Their guilt drives them away from God the way that the Scribes and Pharisees were driven away.

Those who follow the Lord will find freedom in him. The woman caught in adultery must have been living a miserable life of bondage and guilt. Her captivity in the hands of the Scribes and Pharisees would be, I believe, nothing in comparison to her captivity to sin. Had the Lord not freed her through forgiveness and given her the power to sin no more, she would have continued to be in bondage to sin and Satan. Christ the light of the world showed her and led her in the path to freedom.

Thirdly, light brings life. “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life,” says the Lord. What is the light of life? The light of life is light that gives life. What is life? Life is not mere existence. It is an existence that is abundant and free. It is an existence that brings glory to God and spiritual blessings.

Man is created to glorify and enjoy God. Unless we are consciously glorifying and enjoying God, we do not really have a life. We would be living-dead. Christ the sun of righteousness has risen to be the light of the world so that whosoever believes should not perish but have everlasting, eternal life.

To have eternal life is to live in fellowship with God. This is the life that the Lord Jesus gave to the woman caught in adultery. This is the life that He gives to all who believe in Him and follow Him.

Christ is the ‘Light of the world.’ What is this to you?

2. Our Response

a. Firstly, let us thank God that Christ is the light of the World. Were it not for Christ, we shall yet stumble in darkness, being captive to Satan in our sin. We shall be spiritually dead and unable to do anything good at all.

Were it not for Christ, our life would be miserable and purposeless. Imagine sauntering about in a world that has only grey and black and coldness. This is how our live would be spiritually speaking had it not been for Christ.

As the light of the world, Christ has brought colour and warmth to our world. The world loves darkness, says John. But we who have had our eyes opened know better. Christ brought us freedom, safety and life.

He has given us purpose in life. He has given us life abundant and free. Shall we not rejoice and thank God for Him?

b. Secondly, if Christ is the Light of the world, let us draw nigh to him to walk in his light. How to draw near to him? We must draw near to him by walking in holiness and by confessing our sin when the light of Christ by His word and Spirit exposes our sin.

John says, 1 John 1:6-9—

6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Beloved brethren and children, will you not draw nigh to Christ and walk with him. Let us go, and sin no more as the Lord admonished the woman caught in adultery. Let us walk as children of light and not as children of darkness.

Let us as a church walk together in the light—encouraging one another and strengthening one another’s hands in all honesty. Let us not be as children of darkness who would backstab one another in the cloak of darkness. For Christ is our light.

c. Thirdly, as Christ is the Light of the world, let us not forget to read His word and to seek the guidance of His Spirit.

The Psalmist says: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps 119:105). It is by His Word that Christ shines on our path so that we know how we ought to live. And it is by the Spirit bringing to mind the Word that we have heard or read that we are guided by Christ.

Therefore, if Christ is the light of the world, let us not fail to read the Scripture; and let us not fail to pray for guidance day by day, and especially when we have to make difficult decisions in our lives.

How foolish it is if when we have access to light, we refuse the light, and choose instead to live in darkness.

To live according to the principles and thinking of this world is essentially to live in darkness and bondage and danger.

Conclusion

Christ is the Light of the World. May the Lord grant us that we may indeed enjoy the Light. May He grant us that we may as we walk in the light reflect his light that we may be as a city set upon a hill, shining forth for the glory of His name. Amen.

—JJ Lim