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The Light of the World

a lighthouse at sunset

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)

The captain of a ship looked into the dark night and saw a light in the distance on a collision course. Immediately he told his signalman to send a message, “Alter your course ten degrees south.” He promptly received a reply, “Alter your course ten degrees north.”

The captain sent a second message, “Alter your course ten degrees south. I am a captain!” Soon another reply came, “Alter your course ten degrees north. I am seaman third class Jones.” Now the captain was angry. He sent a final message, “Alter your course ten degrees south. I am a battleship.” The reply was, “Alter your course ten degrees north. I am a lighthouse.”

The dark can be dangerous. A ship can run aground in the dark. The dark can hide evil. A burglar prefers to operate in the dark. In the dark we can lose our bearings. In a pitch-black room, we can fumble and stumble along, unsure of hidden objects like bed posts or dressers, waiting to stub our little toe and send pain shooting up our leg. (Can I get a witness?)

When light shines, it dispels darkness. Even the tiniest glow of a night light exposes the objects in a dark bedroom for that middle-of-the-night trip to the bathroom. The light on one's cell phone is enough to navigate in darkness and check the circuit panel when the power is off.

Light actually makes life itself possible. Plants use photosynthesis to synthesize food from carbon dioxide and sunlight. Without light there is no food to sustain life.

Light warms the earth and lifts the spirit. The sun breaking through on a cloudy, gloomy day warms up the car and the heart.

Light exposes what is hidden. Sometimes when my grandfather wanted to go fishing, we would go out in the yard after dark with a flashlight and look for night crawlers - worms that come to the surface at night. With just enough light we could see them and catch them to use as bait. But we had to be fast. Even the light of a flashlight was enough to send them slinking back underground.

It is no small thing that Jesus said, "I AM the light of the world." When Jesus enters our lives, His light dispels the darkness of our sin. We can see things that were hidden. We have light to show the path where God leads in the darkness of this fallen world. He is the Lighthouse that shines in the darkness, warning of danger and providing a point of true truth by which to navigate.

In the Gospel of John, chapter one, John begins not with the story of Jesus' birth, but with the reason for His existence. Jesus is the Word who was with God in the beginning of creation, and by Whom all things were created. Then John says this:

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5 NIV)

The light of Jesus Christ shines in the darkness of this fallen world, and the darkness has not overcome it. Death could not overcome Him. Light always overcomes the dark. He is the Light of the world.

John goes on to say:

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:9-12 NIV)

The world did not recognize who Jesus was. Even His own people, the Jewish religious leaders who should have known Him in an instant, were blinded by the darkness of their own hearts and missed who He really was. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.

So I have to ask myself a simple question. If Jesus is the Light of the world, is He the Light of my world? We all have the freedom to receive Him and believe in His name, or to reject Him and refuse to believe who He is. Jesus can be a stranger to us and His name can be nothing more than a swear word we use when we're angry or startled or upset. Or Jesus can be the Name that calms our fears and the Lord of our lives.

We don't have to stumble in the dark of sin. We can turn to the Light of the world, and He will give the light of life to us. Alter your course by His light. You'll never be sorry you did.


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