“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
This is the second I Am statement that Jesus makes in the Gospel of John. These statements reveal to us who he is and what he came to do. The meaning of John 8:12 is powerful and can change our life and our faith if we let it sink in.
Let’s dive into what the I am the light of the world meaning and see how it can change our approach to life and faith.
The Context Of John 8:12
In Jesus’ first I Am statement in John 6:35 he says he is the bread of life. Food was a scarce commodity in the 1st Century. Here Jesus uses an equally scarce thing: light.
Today when it’s dark out we simply flip a switch and instantly the darkness is gone. But in the 1st Century it wasn’t so simple. In Jesus’ day when it got dark, it was DARK. So when Jesus calls himself the light it’s a big deal.
What makes this statement even more significant is that Jesus said it at the Feast Of Tabernacles. During this feast the Israelites would light a huge candelabra as a reminder of God guiding their ancestors through the wildness. Jesus is showing them that he is their light, their guiding force through this world.
It’s not a coincidence that Jesus said this I Am statement at this time. He was trying to help his audience better understand who he was and what he came to do.
Now that we understand the context, let’s look at the I Am the light of the world meaning for our lives today.
The Meaning Of John 8:12
Let’s dive further in the meaning of John 8:12 by breaking this verse down into smaller sections.
When Jesus Spoke Again To The People Meaning
The first words of John 8:12 serve to bridge what previously happened into what Jesus is about to say. Prior to this we find the religious leaders setting a trap for Jesus by bringing a woman caught in the act of adultery before him.
Jesus not only avoided the trap but extended grace and truth to this woman. And after this interruption he’s back to teaching.
I Am The Light Of The World Meaning
The theme of light is found all throughout John’s Gospel starting from the very beginning (John 1:4-5). And even John 3:16, arguably the most famous passage, contains a strong illustration of dark and light. And here Jesus claims he is the light of life.
Dr Tom Constable says, “The light of life figure stands for what dispels the darkness of ignorance and death. Jesus was claiming that whoever believes in Him will enjoy the light that comes from God’s presence and produces life.”
This light metaphor was common through the Israelites history. They associate light with God’s presence. Throughout the Old Testament God reveals himself to the Jews with light. From creation to the burning bush and in many of the celebrations, light symbolized God’s presence.
Jesus here is declaring that the light has come into the world. God is here. Don’t miss the claim that Jesus is making. He’s pulling from their history to show that just as God was the light to their ancestors, he’s their light today. He’s here to light the way, to lead us from the darkness we are stuck in.
Whoever Follows Me Will Never Walk In Darkness Meaning
This begs the question, why do we need a light? For many they probably feel like they are doing alright figuring things out on their own.
The reality is the world around us is darkened by sin. And even if we feel like we are okay, the effects of sin and brokenness is all around us. It affects us in ways we can see, such as death, but in other ways we aren’t always aware, like damaging our most important relationships. We are surrounded by darkness.
But we don’t have to stumble through it blindly. Just as God was the light that led the Israelites when they were lost in the wilderness, Jesus will light our way through the darkness around us.
For followers of Jesus this is an incredible promise. Jesus will light our way, we don’t need to go through life blindly.
But Will Have The Light Of life Meaning
So, what does the light of life actually do for us? Really two things. First it takes away the darkness of death. Yes, we will all still suffer a physical death. But for followers of Jesus our physical death leads to eternal life. Life without pain, suffering, grief, tears, and loss. Life the way God originally intended it to be lived.
The second thing the light of life does is take away the darkness of ignorance. Culture around us is never short of ways we can find happiness. The problem is all those paths don’t lead to where they promise. They rob us and leave us stuck in the darkness. Jesus offers us a better way to live. A way that actually leads to love, joy, peace, kindness, the things you and I are actually after.
For followers of Jesus we don’t have to stumble through the darkness of our world searching for peace and meaning. The light of life is offering it to us, we simply need to follow him.
3 Ways You Can Be A Light
I want to end by giving you three ways you can live out the meaning of John 8:12 in your everyday life.
1. Connect To The Source
We are not the light of the world. On our own we can’t even produce light. If you want to live out the promise of this verse you need to connect to the source of life.
I know this sounds cliche, something the pastor says every Sunday. But I just don’t know of any other way to grow your faith and live the way Jesus is calling us to. We’ve got to spend time connecting with God through prayer, community, and studying his word.
Really following Jesus is like any relationship. A relationship only grows when the two parties stay connected, when they spend time together. When a relationship is ignored it shrivels away. If you don’t want to stumble in the darkness anymore, connect to the true sources of light.
If you are looking for an incredible resource to help you connect with God I highly recommend: Core 52: A Fifteen-Minute Daily Guide to Build Your Bible IQ in a Year
2. Live In The Light
It’s one thing to connect to the source, it’s another thing to live in the light. Unfortunately it’s becoming increasingly common for a follower of Jesus to be a follower only in title. But Jesus isn’t calling us to just label ourselves Christians, but to actually take action.
Simply put, we need to live as Jesus says is best and not what we, or culture, says is best.
I know this is difficult. It requires us to go against what many others are doing. But Jesus tells us to do this not to kill our joy and fun. Rather it’s because he knows that the path doesn’t lead to what we hoped, it robs us. Living in the light might be difficult, but it’s the only way to find the true life that Jesus promised us.
3. Shine Your Light
Jesus doesn’t just call us to live in the light, but to share the light with those around us.
Many years ago I heard a sermon by Louie Giglio in which he compared us to the moon. The moon doesn’t produce any light on it’s own, rather it reflects the light of the sun. Similarly we cannot produce light on our own, rather we reflect he light of the world.
This is what Jesus is calling us to do, reflect his light to those around us. If you’re a Christian you’ve found the light that lights your way, why would you want to hide it? Instead let it shine to all those around you.
To learn more about how to do that check out: What It REALLY Means To Follow Jesus
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Thanks for reading this blog post on the meaning of John 8:12. I hope that it help you better understand how Jesus is the light of the world. If it did, you would share it with a friend so they too can benefit?