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
Last week, we began a look at the seven emphatic I AM statements Jesus makes in the Gospel of John. Each statement employs a metaphor to describe His salvation work. But in each of the conversations or discourses, He also exposes us.
We have to go back to John 7 to get the context of this statement. It is the Feast of the Tabernacles, the time when the Jews commemorated and celebrated God’s provision and presence with them in the desert. As part of that celebration, the lit huge lamps in the Temple court to recall the pillar of fire, God’s manifest presence.
In that setting, Jesus declares, “I am the light of the world.”
Then, Jesus presents a stark contrast for His followers. They do not walk in darkness but have the light of life.
We don’t walk in darkness. Right? Darkness is evil. We aren’t evil. In the big picture, no. If we’ve accepted Jesus Christ then we have that light of eternal life and that can’t be lost or taken away from us. But considering the timing of Jesus’s declaration, I think He was calling us to more than just salvation.
In Exodus 14:19, the pillar of fire moves between the children of Israel and the armies of Egypt, clearly dividing the two. There was no question which side of the fire you were on.
By choosing this moment to make this pronouncement, Jesus is issuing a pointed, convicting challenge to His hearers. That includes His hearers today.
There has to be a choice. A clear, definitive choice. And you have to go all in. In fact, Jesus spells this out multiple times. If you put your hand to the plow but look back, you aren’t fit for the Kingdom (Luke 9:62). If you are unwilling to forsake all that you have, you can’t be My disciple (Luke 14:26).
Jesus didn’t stutter when He said it, either.
If you want to play the “follow Jesus on Sunday but the other six days are mine” game, then you are choosing to walk in darkness rather than the Light of the World. Jesus says His followers aren’t like that. They don’t choose the far side of the fire. They choose light. They choose to live every day in His presence and under His protection. But that means saying no to everything else.
He is the Light of the World. Are you His follower?
Last week: I am the Bread of Life