“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” (John 8:12, ESV)
What did Jesus mean when he told the crowds, “I am the light of the world”? Perhaps it will be helpful to compile what we know about light from the Scriptures.
- God is light – John tell us in 1 John 1.5. Indeed, there is absolutely no darkness in God at all.
- People love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil (John 3.19-21)
- There is a battle between light and darkness. Darkness will not be able to overcome light (John 1.4-5). It is clear from this passage and a host of cross references that the reference is to a moral battle between light and darkness. Light is used as a metaphor for good in the Scriptures. Darkness is used as a metaphor for evil.
- John bore witness about the light (John 1.7-9)
- The Son of Man is the light of the world (John 12.34-36)
- Jesus came into the world to free men from darkness (John 12.44-47)
- Paul was commissioned to take the gospel to the Gentiles in order to open their eyes so that they could turn from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to the power of God (Acts 26.18)
What did Jesus mean when he said “I am the light of the world”? He meant that men are in darkness and love the darkness because their deeds are evil. He meant that men need to be freed from the darkness; they cannot free themselves. He meant that he had the power and ability to free men from the darkness as the light of the world and that if anyone would follow him, they will by no means, never, ever [emphasized negative in the Greek] walk in darkness anymore.
Brian Doerksen captures this truth very well in this song: