- What is Jesus revealing about himself through this statement?
- What does this statement reveal about my relationship with Jesus?
First off, let’s talk about the Apostle John. He loves to use opposite pairs like light/dark, love/hate in order to make his points stand out. He also loves to mix literal and metaphorical meanings. This second “I AM” statement draws attention to the contrast of light and dark. In this statement both light and dark have metaphorical meanings. We know that literally, darkness is the absence of light. Thus, night is the absence of sunlight. Metaphorically in the Bible darkness is lack of awareness of the divine. Where there is metaphoric darkness there is sinfulness, evil, and disregard of Jesus. Without Jesus, all people walk in spiritual darkness. John tells us about this in chapter 3 “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21)
While some people choose darkness, others are enveloped by darkness because of the sinful nature of humankind. The sinful nature of humankind is illustrated by another story in John 9 as Jesus repeats his claim to be the light of the world. “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:1-5) This man was not blind because he sinned, but his condition illustrates the sinfulness of all humankind. “The blind man has lived in darkness, representing the sinful person’s condition of estrangement from God.” Without Jesus, all people walk in darkness. We are all born into sin and cannot escape the darkness on our own.
On the other hand, Jesus is the light of the world. Light always dispels darkness. This is made clear right at the beginning of John’s gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5)
Darkness cannot defeat the light. Where Jesus is, sin and evil cannot thrive. The context of Jesus’ statement that he is the light of the world gives a beautiful illustration. Jesus’ statement about being the light of the world was given during the Feast of Tabernacles. Light was a very important theme of this festival. During the festival, every night menorah (large candles) were lit illuminating the whole temple. These were large enough to be seen from a distance.  All of this leads up to a bold statement from Jesus during this festival: “I am the light of the world.”
What does this mean? We must look back to the prophecies of Isaiah to see what kind of light we are talking about. “In Isaiah 9:2, darkness refers to oppression and death, salvation to light. In Isaiah 49:6, light is associated with the servant of Yahweh, who brings salvation to the Gentiles. Similarly in 60:1, 3, “light” and “glory” are synonymous; referring to the coming of God to Zion, which stands in the midst of the darkness of all peoples.” Drawing from these prophecies and the symbolism of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus claims that he is the light of the world. He is claiming that he is God, and in his presence, darkness cannot exist.
Jesus states that people who follow him will not walk in darkness. Those who choose to follow Jesus, through his power, overcome the darkness. Those people who follow Jesus will have the light of life. As usual with Jesus he goes beyond the surface to the root of things. I’m sure at some point you’ve tried to walk around in total darkness. It’s hard to tell where you’re going; it’s easy to trip over something in your way. Trying to find your way around life without Jesus is like trying to walk in the dark. Jesus, as the light, reveals the meaning and purpose of life. Jesus stands as the light “by which truth and falsehood can be distinguished…”
We all have two choices. We can choose to walk around with the lights off and live in darkness. Ultimately darkness leads to death. Or we can choose to follow Jesus and walk in the light of his presence. This path leads to eternal life. Jesus is the light that reveals the sinful nature of mankind and defeats and dispels sin. The light of Jesus leads us to salvation and eternal life. The Apostle John says it best: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4)
 Barker and Kohlenberger III eds, Expositors Bible Commentary Abridged Edition: New Testament, 1994, pg 316
 Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
 Arrington and Stronstad eds, Life in the Spirit New Testament Commentary 1999, pg 61
 Kruse, C. G. (2003). John: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 4, p. 201). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Arrington and Stronstad eds, Life in the Spirit New Testament Commentary 1999, pg 52
 Barker and Kohlenberger III eds, Expositors Bible Commentary Abridged Edition: New Testament, 1994, pg 323