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. . . 9:5: As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
”I am the light of the world” is the second of seven “I am” declarations of Jesus, recorded only in the gospel of John. It identifies a unique purpose. In declaring himself to be the Light of the world, Jesus was claiming that he is the exclusive source of spiritual truth available to mankind.
Physical light allows us to perceive and learn of our Creator’s handiwork in the things we see. However, there is another light, Jesus describes in John 8:12 when he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life.” The metaphor used by the Lord in this verse speaks of the light of the truth of God’s Word. Those who perceive the true Light will never walk in spiritual darkness. (See also John 1:9; 3:19; 9:5.)
Physical light is necessary for physical life. In the same way, spiritual light is necessary for spiritual life. Jesus promised that his followers would never walk in darkness but would have the necessary light to successfully journey through life. He both practiced and taught this truth to his disciples. The record of the raising of Lazarus paints a beautiful picture of this promised truth. Jesus had the light necessary to transverse this very emotional and trying situation. He was able to walk by the spirit using revelation manifestations.
Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
13Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
We often think of Jesus as our light. At the beginning of John’s gospel Jesus was described as “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). Later when Jesus said, “I am the light of the world,” he was claiming to be that true light which was promised to come. It was a direct claim to be the Messiah, and the people knew it. That is why they accused him of lying (John 8:13).
Isaiah 42:6-7 is prophetic of the Messiah and speaks of him as a light to the gentiles. This is also what Simeon declared in Luke 2:30-32 who referred to Isaiah’s prophecy. When Jesus says, “I am the light of the world,” he is making the claim to be the prophesied Messiah.
The light, of course, is a magnificent metaphor. Light is the active power that dispels darkness, and Jesus Christ is the light of truth that dispels the darkness of falsehood. Jesus Christ is the light of wisdom that dispels the darkness of ignorance. Jesus Christ is the light of holiness that dispels the darkness of impurity. Jesus Christ is the light of joy that dispels the darkness of sorrow. Jesus Christ is the light of life that dispels the darkness of death. Ephesians 5:8-14 characterizes us as being transformed from darkness to light. Colossians 1:13 also assures us that we have been delivered from the power of darkness.
Jesus says, “I am the light of the world,” but then he also quickly says that “you are the light of the world,” and what a challenge that is for each one of us. “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden…. Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father in heaven. In statement 2, we learn that through Him we gain spiritual understanding and wisdom for living.
By Wayne Clapp