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.