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.”
The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”
Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”
Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”
“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.
Jesus is the light of the world.
As I write this morning there is darkness outside my window, all but the street light is dark. That feels like an apt metaphor for the last nine months of 2020, doesn’t it?
Lots of darkness and just a little light.
Yet, Jesus claims to be the light of the world and that anyone who follows him will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life. Darkness is one of the metaphors we use when we want to try and point people to something bad, hard, or dreary. Light is the metaphor we use when we want to talk about joy, happiness, and the good. Jesus’ claim here is that if we follow him then we get to experience the light as our life.
Let’s be clear about a few things though. Just because we will never walk in darkness doesn’t mean there won’t be dark days. Those dark days will come. They came for Jesus in ways that none of us can quite fully comprehend. The difference is in how we deal with the dark days. Can we enter into the darkness with a sense of hope and expectation that light is coming?
I think this is something that sets the follower of Christ apart from the rest of the world. That is, a sense of hope. This hope that in the midst of a sin-sick world there is healing available. That we can by practicing a subversive-gracious-love be light bearers just as Jesus was the embodiment of light.
That’s also the difference between us and Christ. Christ was the embodiment of light. He was in his being light. We are bearers of that light. We carry it with us and have a responsibility to show it to the world.
Can you imagine being in a darkened basement and after you stumble and fall a few times your friend says, “Here, I have a flashlight.” You’re going to have some choice words for your friend, right?
The reality is that those of us who claim to follow Christ have the flashlight. We carry it with us every where we go. This kind of goes to the idea that we have the Holy Spirit in us. We follow the light of the world and have the joy to point others to the light.
So, how do we do this?
We point out the beauty in the world around us. It is our joyful responsibility to see the grace and mercy and compassion happening in the world. After we see it, we point it out to others. This is the proclamation of the light.
There is also a responsibility that comes with this. When we see darkness breaking in, we must follow the light to the darkness. Jesus didn’t hesitate to go to the places in his world that needed the light. He made the argument that that is the very reason he came. If we are going to follow the light of the world we must recognize the reality that he is going to bring light to the places that need it. This means that there will be times when we have to say hard things or that we have to speak truth that some people do not want to hear. What is happening in those cases though is not to condemn, but to reconcile. Truth speaking in broken relationships is necessary to reconcile and restore the relationship.
As I walk into the New Year, I want to be more committed than ever to pointing out the beautiful, good, and joyful. I also want to be more committed than ever to moving toward the darkness with a subversive-gracious-love.
How about you? Where do you need to go this coming year? How can you put light on display?