“I am the light of the world” (John 8:12)
Here is the universal claim of Jesus Christ. If you believe it and follow that light, you will live for ever! Jesus would have been standing in the light of several great golden candelabra when he made this awesome claim at Jerusalem’s Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:37). The lamps reminded the Jewish people present of the divine pillars of light that led them in their desert wanderings under Joshua.
Now here was Jesus’ claim – unique, universal and ultimate! He was not claiming to be one of many lights that have guided humanity, but THE Light; not simply the light and guide of Judaism, but that of the world; not simply one more light, but original, un-borrowed Light in the absolute sense. John had stated this at the start of his Gospel – "The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world" (John 1:9). That is, no one who turns to Jesus - irrespective of culture or religious background – will remain in spiritual darkness!
Once recognise Christ as The Light – and we are changed for ever. A man once wrote a letter, after responding to the claims of Jesus at a church service in the city of Leeds: “It was as if a light suddenly turned on, and everything became very clear. I was, quite frankly, speechless. It really is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.”
This can happen anywhere. A musician I know came to this great realisation in the middle of a ballroom dance floor in Bristol; she was to become a missionary in Africa! An army soldier could find nowhere to kneel undisturbed in his surrender to Christ – except in the barracks bathroom. A hundred and fifty years ago the Rev William Haslam was preaching in his church on the text What think ye of Christ? But during the course of his sermon he became aware that until then he had never known Christ for himself. As he put it later that day, “I felt a wonderful light." What had happened? Before the day was out the whole village crowded joyfully into the church at the news that the minister had been converted to Jesus Christ in his own pulpit!
Sixteen centuries ago, Augustine - the mighty scholar from Libya - wrote "The Lord Jesus is a sun which never sets."