I am often amazed at the precision of Jesus’ words. A careful reading of any of his interactions with the Jewish leaders of his time shows the fact that he always able to articulate his words of rebuke to them in such a way that either leaves them without answer, or with great anger in which they are ready to kill him right there on the spot.
The words quoted above were no different. Spoken within the context of the Jewish holiday, the Feast of Booths, these words dropped like bombs. As the people lit the giant lamps around the temple, which shone bright into the dark night sky symbolizing God’s work with Israel in the Old Testament, Jesus gets up and calls himself the light of the world?!
Not only do these words identify him with the God who spoke back in the Old Testament. They also go further than that and claim that he is now open, not only to the people of Israel, but also to the whole world. These words were both shocking and horribly offensive to Jesus’ Jewish audience.
However, what makes these words more profound, is not the fact that their claim to deity, but their penetrating aim. Jesus did not say these words to set himself out as something great and amazing. He said them in order to reach out to the very heart of the needs of his listeners, to break through the walls and masks of pride and hypocrisy and to get to the core of the issue.
The end of the text shows us that the specific kind of light that he is speaking of is “the light of life”. Chapter 1 of this same book echoes the same idea with the following words:
“4. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Here we see John’s poetic and creative presentation of life in this fallen world. Separation from God is presented here as a life of spiritual death and darkness. God is the author and sustainer of life, and thus all who are alienated from him are in a state of total ruin. Not only this, John’s picture shows us that a person without God is unable to completely see the seriousness of their condition – they are in blinded by the darkness in which they live.
How so? Quite simple, really: our worldview will determine the kinds things that we see, and the conclusions that we will reach. The prism through which you look at life will determine not only the answers that you come up with, but also the questions that you will ask. If you don’t have the right worldview, you will never be able to ask the right questions, and thus, will never be able to get the right answers.
When we build our worldview apart from the worldview of God, we alienate ourselves from him and are thus trapped within ‘darkness’ our own cycle of questions and answers of life. This is precisely why God had to become a man, and come into this world as the ‘light’ which effectively communicates to us that which we have missing all along.
Jesus Christ is the light of life. It is only through him that we are able to come to realistic understanding of the things that surround us inside and out. It is only when one truly understands the gospel of Jesus Christ (the overarching story of the whole Bible) that they can truly see themselves and their complete need and dependence on God.
Through his gospel we can understand why the universe is. Through his gospel we can understand the reason and meaning of the struggles and pain that we face. Through his gospel we can understand the gravity of our pride and unwillingness to even THINK about a God who reigns over all things, including ourselves. Through his gospel we find forgiveness and restoration back to this reigning God.
The light of Jesus Christ is a painful light because exposes the heart like no other ideology or philosophy. Nevertheless as one fights the pride and arrogance and opens their mind to here and understand – they find that this light is painful precisely because is it correct.
A person who is willing to look at life through the gospel of Jesus Christ will be conquered by the gospel because they will see that it makes such powerful sense of all things. Most importantly, it makes such powerful sense of our own hearts. It breaks through all the walls and the masks which we seek to present to the surrounding world and exposes us as the self centered rebels that we truly are.
Not only this, it generously offers an amazing alternative. Jesus pays the price for our sin by dying on the cross and offers us his righteousness. There is only one catch: we must step into the light. We must open our prideful hearts and let his gospel expose us for who we really are. We must let his thinking shape ours. We must allow his light to take us out of our hell-bound lifestyles of darkness and place us into a life which is shaped and lived for his purposes and goals. We must allow ourselves to enjoy him, as infinitely superior to anything else that we can ever face in life.
“20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.” (John 3)
Reading this article, you have now been exposed to the light of gospel of Jesus Christ. What will be your reaction? Will you recoil back into the non-confronting comfort of darkness? Or will you honestly look at yourself in light of who he is and what he has done?