The 7 "I Am" Statements of Christ: The Light of the World
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Catching Up In this series we are studying the seven “I Am” statements of Christ found in John’s Gospel. When Jesus said the words “I Am” preceding each of these statements, He was purposely connecting His identity to God. The phrase He used in the Greek was “Egō eimi,” which literally translated means “I am.” The word “eimi” in itself, even without the word “egō,” means “I am” or “I exist.” The word “egō” means “I,” but it was used as an emphatic expression about oneself. So when Jesus used both of these words together the Jewish people would have recognized that He was associating Himself with the word “Yahweh,” the Hebrew name for God which means “I Am.”
The Light of the World The scene of Jesus’ second “I Am” statement took place at the temple in Jerusalem during the annual Feast of Tabernacles, so many Jewish people would have been gathered there to offer sacrifices and worship. John 7:14 tells us Jesus showed up during the “middle of the feast,” which is when the crowds would have been the largest. His audience would have also included the Pharisees and other teachers of the law.
Jesus’ second “I Am” statement is this:
John 8:12 (ESV) 12Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Okay, here we go!
God is Light Once again, Jesus’ use of “I Am” (“Egō eimi”), and His statement of being the “light,” would have caused His listeners to take notice of His claim to deity. To the Jewish people, the sun, and light, were symbolic of God. From the very beginning, Scripture describes the concept of “light” being equated with that which is “good” and being separated from darkness:
Genesis 1:1-5 (ESV) 1In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Over and over in Scripture, God and good are symbolized by “light.” But, not only is God symbolized by light, God is light:
1 John 1:5 (ESV) This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
In creation, God created light on the first day, but take notice that He didn’t create the sun, moon, and stars to generate light until the fourth day. Furthermore, God created plant life on the third day, so between day 1 and day 4, God Himself lit the earth and sustained the life which was upon it!
Light is a physical representation AND manifestation of the glory of God!
Let’s just look at a few verses about the light of God’s glory:
Ezekiel 10:4b (ESV) ...and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the LORD.
Habakkuk 3:4 (NIV) His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden.
Revelation 21:23 (NIV) [talking about the New Jerusalem] The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
And there are so many more, many specifically about Jesus. In Luke 1:78, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, prophecies about Jesus and calls Him the “Sunrise from on high.” In John 12:46, Jesus says, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” When Jesus was transfigured in front of Peter, James, and John, Matthew 17:2 tells us “his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” And in Hebrews 1:3, Paul says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory.”
The sun, the moon, the stars, and every light on the earth are merely symbols of God’s glory!
The Significance of Light There is so much Jesus was saying with this second “I Am” statement. Think about simply the health benefits of light - both physically and mentally. We’re entering into spring after many of us have just come out of an unusually intense winter. Think about the emotion that is evoked at the thought of sunlight shining through your windows or the warmth of the sunlight against your back. Light brings a sense of joy, peace, and comfort.
Not only that, but think about the growth of everything around us. Everything which works together to sustain human life requires sunlight to grow and thrive. Likewise,
Everything required to sustain spiritual life grows and thrives from the light of God in our lives!
Light and Life Go Together Light and life go together all throughout Scripture. Let’s look back at Jesus’ “I Am” statement and notice how He ended it. Jesus said,
“Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
And let’s look at what John says of Christ in the opening of his Gospel:
John 1:4-5 (ESV) 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Remember last week we talked about the word “life” meaning both eternal life and earthly life - life in every sense of the word. Jesus is the bread (the sustenance) of life, and He is the light of life. Without the light of Christ, there is no spiritual growth.
God is light. Jesus is light. And light is life.
Evil, on the other hand, is represented by darkness. Satan is darkness, and his dominion is darkness.
Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Colossians 1:13 (NIV) For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
Darkness represents everything that is opposite of God. And darkness is death.
Luke 1:78-79 (ESV) [this is the verse we mentioned earlier in which Zechariah prophecies about Jesus being the “sunrise from on high”] because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
And Matthew describes Jesus this way:
Matthew 4:16 (NIV) the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."
Satan Masquerades as Light I’m taking a bit of time to focus on this “light vs. darkness” concept because we have to talk about something here. 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
Satan, who is darkness, disguises himself as light - because God is light! He who is evil disguises himself as good. He who is death disguises himself as life. Satan doesn’t represent himself as he is; rather, he represents himself as God is! And this is exactly what we are dealing with in our culture right now. The prophet Isaiah talks about it plainly in Isaiah 5:20:
Isaiah 5:20 (ESV) Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who turn darkness to light and light to darkness, who replace bitter with sweet and sweet with bitter.
This Scripture blows me away because obviously this has been a theme since the beginning of time. This is what happened in the garden of Eden when Satan convinced Eve that sin was good and that which would bring death would bring life. And this is what we are seeing right now! That which is evil is disguised as good. Darkness is disguised as light. Morality is confused and backwards and upside-down, and it’s a scheme straight from the pit of hell.
Because remember, darkness is death! So if Satan can convince people that darkness is light, imagine how many more he can “steal, kill, and destroy,” which is his only agenda (John 10:10).
It’s no wonder Satan disguises himself as light in order to deter people from the true Light - because Satan KNOWS the power of THE Light:
Ephesians 5:13-14 (ESV) 13But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Jesus, Who is the Light of the world, exposes sin, wakes people up, and takes them from death into life! The word translated “expose” means “to convince with solid, compelling evidence, especially to expose (prove wrong, connect).” Light brings conviction, and conviction connects us to Christ!
Sin that is exposed to the Light of Christ loses its power!
And Satan knows it. That’s why so many sinful and evil things take place in the dark - it’s literal AND symbolic.
John 3:19-20 (ESV) 19And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
Think about some of the sayings we have about this. Attacks take place “under the cover of darkness.” People find it odd when crimes or attacks happen “in broad daylight.”
The irony, however, is that the darkness, the very thing those in the dark hold on to, is the very thing that is in essence holding onto them! That is why Paul says Jesus “rescued” us from the dominion of darkness. Darkness holds people captive, but so often they don’t even know it:
Proverbs 4:18-19 (NIV) 18The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. 19But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.
That word translated “stumble” means just that - to “stumble” or “to bring down.” Light shows us the way, directs our path, and enlightens our minds, while darkness prevents us from seeing our way and prevents us from having understanding. The verse says “they do not know what makes them stumble.” They don’t know what brings them down because darkness hinders their ability to see AND their ability to understand.
Light Directs Our Path We’re going to look one more time at the verse where Zechariah prophecies about Jesus being the “sunrise from on high:”
Luke 1:78-79 (ESV) because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Light shows us the way.
Psalm 43:3a (ESV) Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me;
John 11:9 (ESV) Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.
John 12:35 (ESV) 35So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.
We can’t see where we’re going in the dark. When it’s dark, we turn on our phone’s flashlight to find our way, or we flip on a light switch. We turn on our high beams when we’re driving in the dark. In the Old Testament we see God in the pillar of fire (light) leading the Israelites through the desert by night. Also in the Old Testament we see God show up in the fire (light) of the burning bush to speak to Moses and give him next steps.
We’ve talked about this before, but the Bible does not hide the fact that mankind will never understand our own journey, nor can we direct our own path - at least not the path of fullness for which God created us!
To find our way, we HAVE to find Christ.
Jesus lights our path, and He enlightens our path.
I love how this Psalm describes it:
Psalm 119:130 (ESV) The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
People sometimes say they’re “in the dark” about something, meaning they don’t know what is going on. People talk about “light bulb” moments when they get an epiphany or a revelation. It’s all symbolic! People in the darkness “do not know what makes them stumble.”
Jesus brings light to our path and light to our mind.
WE are Light! We’re going to end this lesson with something that is so awesome to me about this concept of “light.”
God is Light, and Jesus is the Light of the world. Then, through Christ in us, Jesus says WE are the light!
In Matthew 5:14 Jesus says, “You are the light of the world…”
Ephesians 5:8-11 (ESV) 8for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
There’s that word “expose” again. When we have Christ in us, we carry the Light of the world in us! That means our presence, just like Christ’s, should produce fruit that is “good and right and true.” Our presence should expose sin, wake people up, and connect others to Christ!
PRAYER Oh Lord, fill me daily with Your light, that I may carry Your light everywhere I go. Help me to be the light of the world You call me to be. Expose my own sin, wake me up, and draw me to Yourself so that my presence will expose sin, wake people up, and draw others to You!