The Light of the World verse appears in the Bible at John 8:12, John 9:5, and Matthew 5:14. Let’s study the context and significance.
The Light of the World verse appears first in John 8:12
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.”John 8:12 WEB
The verse came directly after the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8:3-11.
The Pharisees tried to put Jesus on the spot by throwing a woman they caught in adultery in front of Him, and challenge Him to condemn her or condone her. They thought they had the perfect dilemma to test Him. Jesus did neither. After the Pharisees failed to trap Jesus, He declared to them, “I am the light of the world“.
The Pharisees who professed to be followers of the Law did not have the light. They could not recognize that Jesus is the one who wrote the Law. In John 8:6, Jesus wrote with his fingers on the ground. The Temple ground is made of stone. Does it not resemble God writing the Ten Commandments on stone tablets?
Jesus’ declaration should have also reminded the Pharisees of Isaiah 60:1:
“Arise, shine; for your light has come,Isaiah 60:1 WEB
and Yahweh’s glory has risen on you.
If the Pharisees are truly followers of God, they will have the light of life. They won’t be blind to the truth of Jesus’ identity.
The Light of the World verse appears a second time in John 9:5
4 I must work the works of him who sent me while it is day. The night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground, made mud with the saliva, anointed the blind man’s eyes with the mud, 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means “Sent”). So he went away, washed, and came back seeing.John 9:4-7 WEB
Jesus said this right before He healed the blind man and give him back his sight, allowing light to enter the man’s eyes again.
He is the light of the world, He is the answer to the needs of the world then. It is not just spiritual sight He bring. It is physical sight as well.
The light of the world verse appears a third time in Matthew 5:14.
There is a slight difference here though.
14 You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden. 15 Neither do you light a lamp and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house.Matthew 5:14-15 WEB
It is no longer He is the light of the world. Now, it is you. YOU are the light of the world. It is also not you WILL become the light of the world, it is You ARE the light of the world.
Jesus uses two examples to explain what he meant by that.
- City on a hill
- Lamp in the house
What is the difference between the light of the “city on a hill” and the “lamp in the house“?
The light of the city draws attention to itself. It is not to give light to its surroundings.
The light of the lamp is used to illuminate its surroundings. In most cases, the lamp is not even noticed by the people in the house. It does not draw attention to itself.
The sequence is significant too. Like the city on a hill, we draw others to ourselves with our lights. Then, like a lamp in a house, we illuminate for others.
Our blessed lives and good works are to be like lights pointing men to God the Father. Good works are not used as qualifications to enter into God’s Kingdom.
There are two worship songs that reference the Light of the World.
1. Light of the World by Lauren Daigle
The world waits for a miracle The heart longs for a little bit of hope Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel A child prays for peace on Earth And she's calling out from a sea of hurt Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel And can you hear the angels singing Glory to the light of the world Glory, the light of the world is here The drought breaks with the tears of a mother A baby's cry is the sound of love Come down, come down, Emmanuel He is the song for the suffering He is Messiah, the Prince of Peace has come He has come, Emmanuel Glory to the light of the world Glory to the light of the world Glory to the light of the world Glory to the light of the world For all who wait For all who hunger For all who've prayed For all who…
2. Here I Am To Worship by Tim Hughes
This song was Tim Hughes’ response after reading Philippians 2 in 1999. The opening line “Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness, opened my eyes, let me see” juxtaposes light with darkness and how blind eyes are opened with light.
Light of the world You stepped down into darkness Opened my eyes, let me see Beauty that made this heart adore You Hope of a life spent with You Here I am to worship Here I am to bow down Here I am to say that You're my God You're altogether lovely Altogether worthy Altogether wonderful to me King of all days Oh so highly exalted Glorious in heaven above Humbly You came to the earth You created All for love's sake became poor Here I am to worship Here I am to bow down Here I am to say that You're my God You're altogether lovely Altogether worthy Altogether wonderful to me Well, I'll never know how much it cost To see my sin upon that cross Well, I'll never know how much it cost To see my sin upon that cross Well, I'll never know how much it cost To see my sin upon that cross Well, I'll never know how much it cost To see my sin upon that cross
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