John 8:12 : Again, therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.”
It must have been irritating to an extreme degree when the unbelieving Jewish leadership heard this Man who looked so insignificant make such great statements about Himself. I didn’t really understand the greatness of this statement until I read more in the Old Testament. Having light, so as to not walk in darkness, is a direct reference to events that happened to the Jews during Moses time. As the Jews escaped the hands of the Egyptians, God performed a very visible daily miracle:
Exodus 13:21,22 : Yahweh went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them on their way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, that they might go by day and by night: the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, didn’t depart from before the people.
God gave the Jews light so that they could physically find their way to the Promised Land. Again, Jesus puts himself in the place of God in Jewish history. Notice how Jesus uses the metaphor to explain what He is doing. He is the light that will show the way to the whole world! This is no small statement! If you read on in the history of Exodus, you will see that this pillar of fire and cloud was magnificent even as it helped the the group of Jews as they traveled through the desert. Imagine a pillar of fire that lights the world! This is who Jesus says He is.
The prophets of the Old Testament agree that this is how it would be when the Messiah came:
Isaiah 42:6,7 :
“I, Yahweh, have called you in righteousness,
and will hold your hand,
and will keep you,
and make you a covenant for the people,
as a light for the nations;
to open the blind eyes,
to bring the prisoners out of the dungeon,
and those who sit in darkness out of the prison.
The prophet, here, tells us that this light is to be a light that frees people from their prison and gives them sight. He says that this Person will be “a covenant for the people” as well. We know that this is exactly what Jesus became. He became a promise of God to us that He would take away our sin problem and save us from future judgment that we deserve. By Jesus light, the world can see enough to avoid the wrath of God that will come against it for the sins it has committed.
Without Jesus we see only the darkness of death. By Him we have the light of life.