The Remedy For Darkness
John 8:12, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
Recently there have been reports in the news about the declining life expectancy here in the United States. To some extent this seems to be a bit of a mystery but one of the contributors to this that researchers have identified is the depression and despair that so many people suffer from in our culture. There is an ever-increasing number of people who are lonely, depressed, and living lives of despair. My wife is a mental health professional and while she can’t share with me any specifics, she has mentioned on more than one occasion the despair and darkness that seems to envelope so very many people.
Society and the people that make up society have many different problems and issues that contribute to this bleakness and darkness: drug abuse, sexual abuse, physical and emotional abuse, dysfunctional families, divorce, crime, and on and on this list could go. But all those things listed are mere symptoms to the bigger problem. The bigger problem is man’s sin and the resulting enslavement to sin which leads to despair and darkness. But Jesus is the solution to that problem because He is “the Light of the world.”
John 8:12 is the second of seven “I am” statements in the Gospel of John. By claiming the title “Light of the world” Jesus was unequivocally claiming to be God. In Psalm 27:1 it says, “The LORD is my light and my salvation.” Isaiah 60:19 says, “But you will have the LORD for an everlasting light.” Jesus was also claiming to be the Messiah and in Isaiah 42:6 the Messiah is called “a light to the nations.”
Jesus Christ alone brings the light of salvation to the sin-darkened nations and people. To the darkness of falsehood, He is the light of truth; to the darkness of ignorance He is the light of wisdom; to the darkness of sin He is the light of holiness; to the darkness of grief and sorrow He is the light of joy; and to the darkness of death He is the “Light of life.”
The analogy that Jesus uses here of light was very appropriate. This was especially relevant to the Feast of Tabernacles. Part of that week-long feast was a daily lighting of four huge candelabras which were lit in the women’s court where Jesus was standing as He said these words.
But unlike those candelabra, which were extinguished, Jesus is the light that never dims or fades or is put out. Jesus is a light to be followed just as Israel followed the pillar of fire in the wilderness. Jesus calls us to follow Him. The person “who follows” Jesus, He promises, “will not walk in the darkness” of sin, the world, and Satan. Instead Jesus promises that they “will have the Light of life” that produces spiritual “life.” Once a sinner is illumined by the “Light” of Jesus that person, who is now a believer, reflects that “Light” to the world. Matthew 5:14 says, “You are the light of the world.”
The word “follows” is translated from the Greek word akoloutheo. The meaning and connotation of this word is that of complete submission to Him. God will not accept a half-hearted follow of Jesus. One cannot receive Him as Savior but reject or ignore Him as Lord.
Jesus illustrated this point in Matthew 8:18-22 when He said, “Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea. Then a scribe came and said to Him, ‘Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.’ Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’ Another of the disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, permit me to go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.’”
This was probably most jarringly illustrated though in Luke 18:18-27 in Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler: “A ruler questioned Him, saying, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’ And he said, ‘All these things I have kept from my youth.’ When Jesus heard this, He said to him, ‘One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ They who heard it said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ But He said, ‘The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.’”
In the case of the rich young ruler, Jesus is turning away a prospect. But the Lord Jesus was not interested in easy-believism. Jesus wants our absolute allegiance, obedience, and submission. Luke 9:23-24 says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lost it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.”
Despite what we think, it is far easier to submit to Christ, than it is to stumble and bumble through life in the dark. Is your life illumined by “the Light of the world,” or are you still in complete and utter darkness?