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 nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

John 1:1-5

The Apostle John paints a unique portrait of the Lord Jesus. While all the Gospel writers focus on the identity of the Lord Jesus, it is John alone who records seven “I AM” statements that Jesus used to describe Himself. The second of these is found in John 8:

“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

John 8:12

The Bible begins by recording the creation of the world, and on day one God spoke the world into existence (cp. Hebrews 11:3). Then He said, “Let there be light; and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). This light was independent of the sun, for the sun was not created until the fourth day. This light emanated from the presence of God (Revelation 21:23) and this newly formed world flourished and basked in God’s glorious light; but when sin entered the world through Adam’s rebellion, the world became a very dark place. The sun still shone, but mankind was separated from God and cast into spiritual darkness.

The prophet Isaiah describes our sinful condition this way:

We look for light, but there is darkness!
For brightness, but we walk in blackness!
10 We grope for the wall like the blind,
And we grope as if we had no eyes;
We stumble at noonday as at twilight.

Isaiah 59:9-10

Many people today think of sin only in terms of the vilest evil imaginable. We prefer not to think of ourselves as sinners, but as basically good people who occasionally slip up. However, the Scriptures present sin as rebellion against God. Rebellion can take many forms. Sometimes it is a violent, in-your-face act of defiance; but for most of us, it manifests itself in simply ignoring God’s rightful authority over our lives and doing our own thing. The prophet Isaiah describes this kind of rebellion:

All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way.

Isaiah 53:6

One of the remarkable features of the Gospels is their presentation of the Jewish religious leaders as being blind and stumbling about in spiritual darkness. Jesus repeatedly calls them “fools and blind… blind guides” (Matthew 23:16, 17, 19, 24, 26). In a conversation with one of Israel’s premier teachers of the Scriptures, Nicodemus, the Lord Jesus confronts him with these words:

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

John 3:19-21

This principle is vividly portrayed in one of the “sign” miracles that Jesus performed. Jesus healed a man who had been born blind. This miracle is performed in the very heart of Judaism, the city of Jerusalem, probably within the precincts of the temple, and on the Sabbath day. The “Light of the world” has come from the heavenly Temple into the outer courtyard of the earthly temple for all to see, but the spiritual leaders of God’s chosen people reject Him because they love their ritualism more than God.

In contrast, we discover that the light is gradually dawning on this formerly blind man as he considers what Jesus has done for him. Initially he describes Jesus as a man (John 9:11); then reasons that he must be a prophet (John 9:17); but eventually He recognises Jesus as the Son of God and worships Him (John 9:35-38). But the religious leaders still refuse to accept the truth and remain in the dark.

Listen carefully to this conversation between the Lord Jesus and the religious leaders:

And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”
40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?”
41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.”

John 9:39-41

One writer explains it this way:

Jesus made himself the pivotal point of human destiny. Surely the verse emphasizes that spiritually blind people who recognize their malady will be given an opportunity to see. But those who are spiritually blind and deny it will never know the light… Every person who realizes his or her spiritual blindness becomes a candidate for seeing; those who refuse to recognize their spiritual blindness place themselves beyond help. We might paraphrase Jesus’ final words like this: “If you would only admit your blindness, you would not be guilty of sin because I could forgive it; but because you claim your own self-righteousness, your guilt remains.”

Kenneth Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary

These arrogant, self-righteous people thought that their religious knowledge and religious rituals elevated them as the enlightened ones. But the light of the world was standing in front of them, offering to take away their blindness; but they loved darkness rather than light. As the old saying goes, “There is none so blind as those who will not see.” Their rejection of the light means that they have come under the judgment of the Lord Jesus.

Some people today are still blinded by their commitment to religious rituals. Others are blinded by their confidence that science has all the answers. Some are blinded by their love of sin. And others are blinded by their confidence in their own goodness or morality.

The Lord Jesus issues an invitation to follow Him, the light of the world, with the promise that if you do you will no longer walk in darkness but have the light of life (John 8:12). Will you come to the light?


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