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What does it mean that Jesus is the 'Light of the World' (John 8:12)?

In our universe, there are two types of light: physical and spiritual. Physical light is necessary for life. When we look at plants, this need for light is obvious. Plants are said to be positively phototropic—or drawn to the light. All plants can survive for a short period without light, such as at night, but no plant can survive forever in utter darkness. Yes, some plants can survive or even thrive with limited light or artificial light, but without some sort of light, all plants will eventually die.

Spiritual light is much the same as physical light—necessary for life. Human beings, regardless of their beliefs, are inherently drawn to spiritual light, which feels like goodness, kindness, and love. Even an unbeliever can see the value and worth of being loved. Yes, our sinful desires often cause us to shy away from the light for fear of being exposed (John 3:19-20). We may substitute spiritual light for other things or artificial things, but we cannot live forever in darkness.

Jesus is the Spiritual Light

"...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

When Jesus said, "I am the Light of the world," He declared Himself to be the exclusive source of spiritual light to all people. No other spiritual truth or light is available to mankind; all spiritual light comes from God. How do we get access to this light? Jesus answered that question right away: "Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). When we choose to follow Jesus, we never need experience spiritual darkness again.

When we find ourselves in a dark room, yet we want to see, what do we do? Flip the switch, swipe on our phone's flashlight, put a match to a candle—whatever it takes to bring light into that place. When we choose to follow Jesus, His light goes into the darkness of our sinful hearts and shines His love, His mercy, His truth, His LIGHT, into every corner (John 6:37). Then, wherever we go, God's spiritual light remains with us (John 1:5; John 6:37).

We Reflect Jesus' Spiritual Light

"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." —1 John 1:5-7

Jesus calls those who believe in Him the "light of the world" and encourages us to shine our reflected light into the dark places we live in, bringing glory to God in the process (Matthew 5:14-16). All humans need spiritual light, and we can be a part of bringing God's light to those who have hidden themselves from Him. As the moon reflects the sun's light brilliantly, so should believers reflect God's light. Ephesians 5:8 says, "For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light..."

If we choose to follow Christ, we ought to live our lives faithfully, honestly, sincerely, and earnestly—all of which glorifies God (1 Corinthians 10:31). While we will continue to struggle with sin our entire lives, we must also continue to confess that sin to God, asking Him for forgiveness, and restoring our close friendship with Him (1 John 1:9). Then we must choose to continue our work toward changing unhealthy habits and behaviors, striving for growth, and thriving in God's spiritual light.

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TL;DR

When Jesus said, "I am the Light of the world," He declared Himself to be the exclusive source of spiritual light to all people. No other spiritual truth or light is available to mankind; all spiritual light comes from God (John 8:12). When we choose to follow Jesus, His light goes into the darkness of our sinful hearts and shines His love, mercy, truth, and LIGHT, into every corner (John 6:37). Then, wherever we go, God's spiritual light remains with us (John 1:5; John 6:37). Jesus calls those who believe in Him the "light of the world," and we can shine our reflected light into the dark places, bringing glory to God (Matthew 5:14-16).

By: Catiana Nak Kheiyn

Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org. She loves audiobooks, feeding the people she cares about, and using Christmas lights to illuminate a room. When Catiana is not writing, cooking, or drawing, she enjoys spending time with her two kids, four socially-awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.


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