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 NIV)
In the aftermath of Hurricane Lili of 2002, my family was returning to our home from evacuating. I had decided that I wanted a full day at the clean-up efforts so we were retuning at night. Because of power outages, the only lights were our headlights—no street lights, business lights, other car lights, or traffic lights. Because of the darkness, as we made our way home, I lost all sense of where we were. Finally, I saw some blue lights at ground level. After a moment, I recognized the first familiar sight for miles—an airport. Seeing this airport meant I had just sailed through a number of intersections. That dark evening reminds me that the darkness causes us to lose all sense of perspective.
Darkness confuses. Darkness distorts. Darkness is often dangerous. No wonder John, in his Gospel, makes much of the image of darkness to communicate spiritual truth. In the midst of that darkness is a light—the Light of the world—Jesus.
Jesus announced Himself to be “the Light of the World” at the Feast of Tabernacles. This celebration was a seven day annual festival God prescribed to remind Israel how He had been to them “a fire by night” during the forty year period of wandering in the wilderness. God literally provided them a light for their way. The festival included lighting lamps in the Temple Court. Historians tell us that four large candelabras were lit by the priests, but also anyone might light their own personal smaller lamp. Some say that light could be seen for miles. But the lamps eventually flickered and died. In this setting, Jesus announces Himself to be the light of the world that never goes out.
Let’s face it. We live in a dark world, but, as Christians, we have the light. Let us do as the blind hymn writer, Helen H. Lemmel, instructed:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.