The Light of the World
James Smith, 1860
"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 wondrous wisdom the Savior displayed — in silencing the accusers of the adulterous woman, and driving them out of the temple; and what amazing grace he manifested, in pardoning her foul transgressions! How touching His question: "Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin!"
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life!" How sad is the state of the world without Christ. It is in darkness! What the natural world would be without the sun — that is the moral world without Christ! "For darkness has covered the earth, and gross darkness the people!"
Darkness is the emblem of ignorance — and man is deplorably ignorant upon all high, holy, and important subjects. The world when most wise, knew not God — but was ignorant of his nature, perfections, decrees, requirements, and the provision he has made for human guilt. Just so, as to his own nature, true condition, real needs, and fearful destiny — man was in darkness.
Darkness is the emblem of crime — and man by nature is a criminal, condemned already, and shut up in hopeless misery. He stumbles on, violating God's law, infringing the rights of his fellow man, and perpetrating the most enormous crimes, often without remorse or care!
Darkness is the emblem of cruelty — and the dark places of the earth, are full of the habitations of cruelty. O the cruel superstitions, and cruel practices of the heathen world! O the cruel superstitions, and cruel practices of the Roman Catholic church! Where Christ is not known, where the light of his glorious gospel is not permitted to shine — there is oppression, cruelty, and degradation. Man without Christ, is the most degraded of all God's creatures, he wanders on in darkness, and all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
How glorious is the character of the Savior! He is the light, the luminary that enlightens the world. As all natural light is in the sun — so all supernatural light is in Christ. This sun began to rise, when Satan extinguished the two lights which God had placed in Eden, and all was dark.
Its first rays were thrown upon the scaly back of the old serpent, when the sentence was pronounced, "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." It rose higher and threw instructive shadows over the Jewish race, for the Old Testament law was a shadow of good things to come. At length it burst upon the world in all its mild and winning glory, when Jesus Christ came into the world as a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel. And now the Sun of righteousness is in the meridian, pouring light upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death — to guide their feet into the way of peace.
Jesus is the source of all spiritual knowledge. He has revealed the Father, made known his will, and opened a way for sinners to approach him and obtain pardon and peace. The doctrines, promises, precepts, and predictions of the gospel — are all so many rays of light from this glorious Sun.
Jesus is the source of comfort. As most of our natural comforts may be traced to the sun — so all our spiritual comforts may be traced to Christ!
Jesus is the source of beauty, all the beauties of creation are produced by the sun — and all the beauties of holiness, are produced by Christ.
Jesus is the source of safety. How could we be safe in this world — without the sun? It unveils our dangers, reveals our path, and shows us how to pass on in safety. Just so, Jesus reveals to us our danger, makes known the way of escape, and guides us into the paths of pleasure and peace.
There is fullness of light in Jesus. As the natural sun is always full of light — so Jesus has a fullness of spiritual light.
The light is free. The natural sun is free — we never think of meriting, deserving, or praying for it. Just so is the light of life, the light that Jesus emits. It is free, perfectly free. Free for all. Free for any. Free always. Free everywhere. Whoever will, may enjoy it, and enjoy safety, happiness, and eternal life through it!
The light of the sun is abiding. The same sun that shone on the fields of the patriarchs — shines on ours; and its light is as pure, as powerful, and as plentiful as ever. Just so is Jesus — the same yesterday, today, and forever! There is as much light in Jesus today, as there ever was, as much for me as there was for Peter, or John, or Paul. Jesus is the light, not of a particular nation, or people — he is the light of the world!
How great is the privilege of the believer! He "shall not walk in darkness — but shall have the light of life." WHO are those favored ones? Those who are attracted by Jesus — and attracted to Jesus. Those who follow Jesus. Those who imitate Jesus, who catch his light and reflect it upon others, for his glory and their good.
WHAT is enjoyed by them? They are delivered from the power of darkness — and though once total darkness, they are now light in the Lord. They are rescued from moral, legal, spiritual, and eternal darkness! They enjoy the living, enlivening light of Jesus. By this they discover the path that leads to glory and to God. They escape the snares, stumbling-blocks, and pitfalls which are in their road. They enjoy the beautiful scenery around them, and catch glimpses of the more beautiful scenery ahead of them. They discern the great object of life, the highest end of their existence, and are induced to pursue it. They rejoice in their deliverance from dangers, and the great and glorious privileges that are conferred upon them. They have, they enjoy, "the light of life."
All darkness in the soul, and all darkness in the path — arises from our getting at a distance from Christ. Let us therefore get close to Jesus, and keep close to Jesus — let us walk in the light, that we may have fellowship with him, while he has fellowship with us.
Reader, do you follow Christ? Have you been attracted by his light, beauty, and glory? Have you left the dark world, the dark ways of sin, and the dark service of Satan — for Jesus? Has he shone into your heart? Has he shone on you through his holy word? Has he guided your feet into the way of peace? If so, rejoice in him, and rejoice in the promise he has given. Jesus says — you shall not walk in darkness! Others may — you shall not.
Look not therefore too much into your own hearts, look not too much to the Church, look not at the world around you — but look to Jesus! As the eye admits the light of nature into the body — until it is full of light; just so faith admits spiritual light into the soul — until we are filled with the light of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, from the person of Jesus Christ.
If we would enjoy natural light — we must endeavor to keep the natural eye healthy. Just so, if we would enjoy Jesus, the light of life — we must keep our faith simple, vigorous, and healthy.
And as a man, who chooses to shut himself up in a dark cellar, cannot expect to enjoy the light of the sun; so we, if we will sink into self, or get into the world, or shut up ourselves in unbelief — must not expect to enjoy the warm, cheering, refreshing light, which streams from Jesus!
Do you enjoy the light — then point others to it. Tell poor dark miserable sinners of it; invite them to look to it, urge them to come to Jesus for it; and be sure to let the light you receive from Jesus, so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Lost sinner, Jesus is the light of the world, if therefore you want knowledge, comfort, holiness, or salvation — come to him, look to him, ask of him, expect from him, and believe his word, "If any man," no matter who he is, or what he is — "if any man follows me, he shall not walk in darkness — but shall have the light of life."
Light of life, shine into my soul, in all your power and glory! Fill me with knowledge, holiness, and love! O that I may be full of light, and let my light shine before men, that they may see my good works, and glorify my father who is in heaven!