Last week, as we continued our Lenten worship series around the I AM sayings of Jesus with “The Light of the World,” the first thing that stood out for me was the significant role light and darkness played in John’s gospel — from the first chapter on.
John points out again and again whether it’s light or dark, daytime or nighttime and it has special significance in John’s portrayal of Jesus. And, as is typical for John’s gospel, light and dark always function in a metaphorical way.
The second “I am” saying of Jesus about his own nature is “I am the light of the world.” What does that mean for us as followers of Jesus?
From the very first chapter of John, he calls Jesus the true light that enlightens everyone, and then he says that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.” And then, in the 12th verse of this chapter, Jesus confirms this, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life eternal.”
Just like with all the other metaphors in the Gospel of John, there’s darkness — and then there’s darkness. It’s not just the Gospel of John that uses darkness and light as metaphors. We all use the images and symbolism of darkness and light in many ways: Fear and Confidence, Despair and Hope, Understanding and Ignorance.
As we think about this passage of John, it is good to remember what Jesus says in the gospel of Matthew about being his disciples: “You are the light of the world. Let your light shine . . .” What does that mean for us as followers of Jesus?
What does darkness symbolize for you? When you think of light, what imagery comes to mind? Has there ever been a time when you felt like you were walking in darkness? Have you ever experienced light overcoming your own darkness?
I enjoyed exploring with you John’s symbolism of light and darkness to portray a central aspect of the nature of Jesus.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster