Pastor's Corner: The light of the world
Twinkling lights and glowing candles remind us that Christmas is fast approaching. These luminary symbols seem appropriate as we prepare to celebrate the coming of God's Son to this earth. After all, in John's Gospel, Jesus is introduced to us a light that shines in the darkness. With His advent, "The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world" (John 1:9).
To the darkness of falsehood He is the light of truth. To the darkness of ignorance He is the light of wisdom. To the darkness of sin He is the light of holiness. To the darkness of sorrow He is the light of joy. To the darkness of death He is the light of life. So if the world is hopelessly lost in the darkness,
you would think people would flock to the light, wouldn't you?
Yet surprisingly, Jesus said, "This is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:19-20).
Like a dying man who cherishes his deadly disease, many people cherish the sin that produces their eternal death. As a result, they're not able to see the light or love the light.
Later, Jesus stirred up a controversy when He announced, "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). Why were people offended by these words?
The setting indicates Jesus was thinking of the "pillar of fire" which accompanied the ancient Israelites in the wilderness after their deliverance from Egypt. The pillar was a symbol of the presence of God with His people. When the pillar moved, they followed. In this way, the people experienced the Lord's guidance and protection.
So when Jesus calls Himself the light of the world and promises the light of life to anyone who follows Him -- He's claiming to be nothing less than the one true God, dwelling among His people! He is calling us to follow Him and receive the blessing of heaven. But what does it mean to follow Jesus?
On another occasion, Jesus said, "I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness" (John 12:46). To follow Christ then, is to believe in Him. To believe in Christ is to follow Him. True saving faith is not merely agreeing with a set of doctrines.
Have you completely submitted your life to Jesus Christ, so that you move by His commands? Do you follow the One who died for you and rose again? Without Jesus, we walk in the darkness and we die in our sins. With Jesus, we walk in the light and we die in the Lord.
In Christmas, God has come to His people. "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Isa 9:2). May God give us grace to come to the light and wholeheartedly give ourselves to Him!