“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jesus in John 8:12)
For the past several months, I’ve been slowly working my way through all four of the gospels, learning about how Jesus lived and what he promises those who believe in him. I love his many “I Am” statements! (My blog post I Am lists many of these, along with affirmations of who I am in Christ.)
This morning in John 8, I read his bold statement, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
I stopped and thought for a moment about how this applies to me personally. “If I follow Jesus, I, Virginia Knowles, will be able to walk in the light of life.” How does that make a difference to me every day? I can think of lots of ways!
I also looked down at the study note in my Bible, which mentioned that this could be a reference to the pillar of fire in Exodus 13:21, when God was leading the Jews out of Egypt toward the promised land: “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.” That, in turn, reminded me of a line from one of my own poems, “Grace Will Lead Me Home”: “Grace will lead me home like a pillar of fire for a pilgrim in the wilderness.” (Jesus is the source of all grace!)
My son-in-law Ryan, who worships Jesus (Yeshua) as a messianic Jew, often reminds me to read the Bible from the perspective of someone who lived back then, with a knowledge of the “back story” in the Old Testament Scriptures and culture. In fact, we were talking about that concept on Monday at the hospital while he and Mary and I were waiting for Jacob to be born. So to realize how this connects back to Exodus was enlightening! Especially when I read in Exodus 14:24 that the LORD himself was IN the pillar of fire and that he wasn’t only giving light and guidance, he was looking down on them and fiercely protecting them from their enemies who had pursued them to the Red Sea! Yes! He fights for me and routs the powers of dark forces.
Like Ryan says, reading the New Testament with the Old Testament in mind sure helps the understanding, so I used the cross-references and concordance in my Bible to find some other relevant passages. Many of these are messianic prophecies — that is, they foretell or promise something about Jesus as the Son of God.
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” Psalm 36:9 (Ah, that brings to mind another line from the same poem: ” He leads me to the oasis, to the crystal fountain whence the healing stream flows.”)
“O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.” Isaiah 2:5 (That’s a good word for my newborn grandson Jacob! Walk in the light of the Lord, little one!)
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” Isaiah 9:2 (This is quoted in Matthew 4:12-16 to show how Jesus fulfilled it.)
“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.” Isaiah 42:6-7, speaking of the Messiah to come
(See also Daniel 2:17-23)
And now, some from the New Testament…
“For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Acts 15:47 (This refers back to Isaiah 49:6, again showing how Jesus fulfilled it. He didn’t just come to save the Jews, but the Gentiles as well! That’s good news for me!)
“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:19-21““You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14 (This one is for and about us! Since we have Jesus in us, then we are lights, too! We must shine for him!)
“So Jesus said to them, ‘The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.’” John 12:35-36 (Have you believed in him yet?)
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9 (As the royal priesthood, we each have direct access to God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Do you remember that the veil shielding the Holy of Holies in the temple was miraculously torn in two when Jesus was crucified? Read more here: The Throne Room of Grace)
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5 (Walking in the light is not just a promise, but a command! It means rejecting the deeds of darkness, and doing the things which please and honor God.)
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:1-5 (In heaven, we won’t need artificial light or even sunlight! God himself is the source of all light! After all, he made the sun in the first place as a reflection of his own power. The Lamb in these verses is Jesus! He was the fulfillment of the Passover Lamb in the Old Testament, because by his sacrifice, the angel of death passes over those who claim his blood covering. He takes away our sin, too. See here: John 1:29-34, 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 and Acts 8:26-40, and Exodus 12.)
I’m glad I took the opportunity to reflect on these Scriptures this morning because “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
Let me walk in the light of life as I follow Jesus.