The Light of the World
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”John 8:12 NLT
From the “Bread of Life” to “The Light of the World”
Jesus continues to introduce Himself to the people, hoping to help them see and know who He is and what He was sent to do. He continues to draw attention to the Father, “who sent” Him, making sure they know that He is not their of His own “initiative”. In this rather lengthy but powerful conversation between Jesus and both the crowd of people following Him plus some of the religious leaders – Jesus dives headlong into more controversial territory with another “I Am” statement, equating Himself not only with God but basically as God.
Following His conversation with the adulterous woman ( 8:3-11), Jesus immediately makes His second “I Am” statement, this time not as the “Bread of Life” but as “The Light of the world”. Proceeding with an explanation, He teaches that those who follow Him will no longer have to walk in the “darkness of the world”, but in the “Light” of His Presence. The teaching is best explained by this commentary from BibleRef.com at John 8:12
This incident occurs during the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem. Jesus has already used festival rituals as analogies for His role as Messiah (John 7:37–38). As part of this major festival, lamps would be lit using wicks made from priestly garments. In addition, light was a powerful metaphor in Hebrew thinking (Psalm 84:11; Malachi 4:2). "Light," for the Jewish person, was the ultimate ideal, a representation of salvation, knowledge, and goodness. For Jesus to claim to be the "light of the world" was no small thing. In fact, it is a claim to equality with God. Even further, the Greek of this passage indicates Jesus' claim to be "the" light, not merely "a" light. In the text's original Greek, Christ says "Egō eimi to phos tou kosmou," which explicitly claims He is the single, solitary source of "light." Those who follow Christ, in truth, may stumble into darkness, but they will never perpetually "walk" in it (John 12:46; Psalm 36:9). https://www.bibleref.com/John/8/John-8-12.html
For those of us who are believers and followers of Jesus the application is simple and sweet – We have been set free from the power and death that the darkness bring and in its place we have been given the ‘Light of Life’. As sweet and simple as the application is – there is an equally profound lesson to be noticed and applied – and that is the message that Jesus gave to those who had believed – which was basically not just to say they believed but to faithfully live out what He was teaching.
Unsatisfied words lead to violence – Yet many believe
Despite the fact that He was questioned, responded to indignantly, repeatedly doubted, and ultimately assaulted – “many of the people believed“. (30) I hope you will read the dialogue to see how gracious yet bold Jesus was with His answers and pointed statements of truth. There was one basic question the crowd and leaders asked that all of the other questions seemed to boil down to and that being, “Who do you claim to be?” To which He answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.” (54)
Father, yet another beautiful Scripture filled with and portraying Your love, and the depth of it through Jesus Christ. The Light of the World! Light that brings HOPE to all who believe – all those who follow Him will be set FREE from the darkness! A darkness that leads to death BUT is not greater than the LIGHT of LIFE!