John 8:12. Again 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.”
John 8:25. So they said to him, “Who are you?”
Who is Jesus? How would you answer that question? How did Jesus answer that question?
John 8 takes place in the Temple courtyard in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles. Four giant torches would have illuminated the entire area making the temple visible for miles. It is into this setting that Jesus makes this audacious claim, a claim like no other – I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of the life.
Notice what Jesus doesn’t say. He doesn’t say I point to the light. Or I reveal the light. Or whoever follows all my commands will have life. No. Jesus says I AM the light of the life. Jesus isn’t pushing a religion at all. He’s not telling us to memorize a creed or practice a bunch of “isms.” He’s telling us that we must know and trust him, relying on what he has done. For Jesus, it is never about what we will do for him. It is only about what he will do for us.
Every word in Jesus’ sentence is a claim to deity and Messiahship. God is the light and salvation of Israel (Ps. 27:1). God’s light was followed in the wilderness (Ex. 13:21). God’s Messiah will be a light to the nations (Is. 49:6). God will come to reign as perpetual light in Jerusalem (Zech. 14:5-7). And, of course, the life that he is offering is not merely physical life (bios) or even soul life (psyche). He is offering us the spiritual zoe life of God himself (see day 112).
And then there’s the two little words that begin the sentence. I am. Ego eimi.
Ever since the burning bush where God told Moses that he is the great I Am, no Hebrew would ever say those two words together. Not even casually. For example, a Jewish person in Jesus’ day would never say, “I am hungry,” or “I am working.” They would say, “I hungry,” or, “I working.” To say “I am” would be considered a blasphemous claim to deity. “I am” is reserved only for God.
So here’s Jesus in John 8:
John 8:12. I am the light of the world.
John 8:18. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.
John 8:23-24. He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”
John 8:28. So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he.”
And then Jesus went too far and left the I am just hanging out there.
John 8:58-59. Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
But what do all these blatant claims by Jesus to be God mean to us? They mean that if we really want to know God, we must go through Jesus. We must know Jesus to know God. And to know Jesus, to trust his claims, to receive his light and life, we must go through the cross and the resurrection. We must go through the gospel.
John 8:28. So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man (the crucifixion), then (at the resurrection) you will know that I am he.”
How do we know Jesus’ claims are true? By simply looking at his death and resurrection. And it is there that we find God. It is in the cross and the empty tomb that we see exactly who God is. The great I Am, our Light and our Life, is the One who would die for us and who would live for us forever.
And now, in Christ, the Light and the Life lives IN us. No more walking in darkness. No more doubting God’s faithfulness toward you. No more insecurity about God’s love for you. No more confusion about God’s purpose for your life. No more aimless wandering searching for meaning and happiness. Every question has been answered, and the answer is Jesus. The dark day of his cross has broken through all the darkness in us with the burning light of the great I Am. The light and life of “to live is Christ.”
Who do you say Jesus is?
You in Christ
In Christ you have the light and life of the great I Am. How can this answer all your questions today?
Christ in you
Where can Christ’s light and life be displayed in you today?
Playlist: Songs of the great I Am.