One day I got a late start on a bike ride and went too far. By the time I turned around, I found myself miles from home on a trail with absolutely no light. At times I could not see the trail’s edge, and I had no clue what was on either side.
I was in the dark. Alone. Or at least I thought so, until I felt a presence and realized I’d just passed someone within inches. I could easily have run into him or her. I don’t remember being afraid of the dark until that night. I had no light and couldn’t flip a switch or call someone to solve my problem. When I finally made it to the dim lights of civilization, I was flooded with relief...and sheer happiness!
The people Jesus spoke to lived without streetlights. If they didn’t have a lamp and a means to light it, they groped in darkness, vulnerable to assailants. They understood what it meant when Jesus said, “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).
Jesus didn’t say, “I’ll point you to the light” or “I’ll give you the light.” He said, “I am the light.” The only Light.
John tells us in his Gospel that Jesus is “the true light that gives light to everyone” and the light that “shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:9, 5). I love that phrase from John 1:9, which says that Jesus came as the light that “enlightens every man” (NASB). I think it reflects the fact that all people in history have benefited from the coming of Christ, and His redemptive life and death—even those who reject Him. “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16).
God is portrayed in Scripture as full of light. He has a bright radiance, seen by Moses and Elijah and Isaiah and the apostle John. During Christ’s transfiguration, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothing “became as bright as a flash of lightning” (Luke 9:29, NIV). He appeared to Paul and blinded him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-9). The apostle John is emphatic: “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
Scripture says that God Himself will be the light source for the New Jerusalem. Isaiah tells us, “The Lord will be your everlasting light” (60:19), and “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn” (Isaiah 60:3, NIV). But John goes further, saying, “The Lamb is its lamp” (Revelation 21:23, NIV). He saw what Isaiah couldn’t: The God who is the city’s light is the Messiah Himself.
This present world is still cursed with sin and suffering, but these obstacles can’t trump joy or diminish the light that dawned at Christ’s incarnation. He has already come, and with Him came light, hope, and redemption—the down payment of this world’s final transformation, when we'll experience His brightness firsthand.