When speaking with the Pharisees, our Lord Jesus said “I am the light of the world.Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). What does it mean?
I am the light of the world
If you carefully look at the conversations in the previous chapters, the meaning of the Lord’s statement is obvious. Some of the Pharisees thought Jesus was a prophet and they were disputing even that. “Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee” (John. 7:52). And here we come. In the 8th chapter Jesus is directly correcting them, teaching that he is not a prophet, but more than a prophet: He is the light of the World.
“He says, ‘I am the light of the world,’ in the very direct meaning of those words. Not a prophetic and incomplete light, but the true light, which is not limited to the borders of Galilee and Palestine, but a light to the entire world, Lord of all people,” writes the blessed Theophylact of Bulgaria in his commentary on John’s Gospel.
What the Lord Jesus meant by saying he is the light of the world, is what was written prophesied by Isaiah in 42:6, which reads “I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.”
Pharisees opposed him and Jesus says that this opposition makes them walk in the darkness. On the contrary, whoever follows him will not walk in darkness.
You Are The Light
Now Jesus calls us the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13-14). What do you do with this call? Examine your heart, thoughts and behavior and ask yourself, are you a light of the world, taking the light from Jesus and sharing with people or are you a stumbling-block to the people around you? This is a serious question because our Lord promised the biggest possible reward to those who are light and salt to people and very strict warning to those who become a stumbling-block to God’s children.
St. Niketas Stethatos a Byzantine theologian of the 11th century, writes the following.
If you keep God’s commandments you will not become a stumbling-block to others, for there will be nothing offensive or provocative in you. ‘Great peace have they who love Thy law, and for them there is no stumbling-block’ (Ps. 119:165. LXX). Rather they are light, salt and life, in conformity with the Lord’s words, ‘You are the light of the world, and the salt of the earth’ (cf. Matt. 5:13-14). Light, because they are virtuous in life, lucid in speech, and wise in thought; salt, because they are rich in divine knowledge and strong in the wisdom of God; life, because through their words they bring to life those slain by the passions, raising them up from the pit of despair.
Therefore, shine before people through righteous works and illumine them. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.