The Light of the World


Years ago, I took my young family to Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. With the Park Ranger as our guide, we rode the elevator deep into the heart of the earth to a subterranean wonderland. The Ranger taught us about spelunking, stalactites, stalagmites and, my favorite, bat guano... Then with significant drama, the Ranger flipped off the light. Dark! The complete absence of light! Wave your hand in front of your face and... nothing! Just black, darkness!

Keep that image in your mind...

John’s eighth chapter opens with the story of a woman caught in the act of adultery. The religious elite called for the death penalty! “Stone her,” they demanded. That’s when Jesus stooped down and wrote something in the sand. What did He write? I don’t know. Whatever ... it was enough to convince the big-shot, religious high muckety-mucks, that Jesus had the goods on them too! They were hypocrites, and Jesus knew their sinful secrets! So, one-by-one the frauds and phonies turned and walked away... like snakes slithering into their burrows.

Compassionately Jesus turned to the sinful woman. “Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ (Don’t miss that... she called Jesus her Master... her Lord!) And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more’ ” (John 8:10-11, ESV).

When the light of truth was shined into this girl’s life, her wretchedness was glaringly obvious. She’d been caught red-handed! She was a sinner deserving of death! “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Mercy and grace changed everything! Jesus did not condone, but neither did He condemn. “Sin no more!” In other words, “Repent! Turn away from your old ways and turn toward the only Savior!”

In the next verse, “Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘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, ESV).

Apparently, the woman’s life was radically transformed as she chose to follow her new “Lord.” She didn’t continue to walk in darkness but began a new pilgrimage in the Light!

But the Pharisees, “loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed” (John 3:19-20, ESV). “For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21-22, CSB).

Jesus gave the whole crowd a choice. He gives us the same. If we follow Jesus, we walk in light. Beautiful light. Turn away from His offer of grace, and you stumble and fumble in darkness... like the cave... utter darkness!

In John’s sixth chapter Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life” (John 6:35). That’s Jesus’ first “I am” statement in John. The second “I am” statement is found here in John 8:12. “I am the Light of the World.”

Like the manna, He is the Bread that satisfies our hunger, and like the pillar of fire that led the Israelites through the wilderness, He is the guiding Light, “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105, ESV).

© 2020