Nightlights are amazing.
When I was a child, they brought me comfort. As an adult, they amaze me. Why would these small, dim lighting fixtures amaze me? Because when it’s so very dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face, a nightlight’s glow helps you walk with confidence.
What also amazes me about nightlights is they’re useless if you don’t turn it on. And to turn it on, you have to know you’re in the dark, right? If you think you don’t need it, then you won’t turn it on.
It’s a pretty similar situation with Jesus. In John 8:12-20 we find Jesus encouraging people to turn to the light.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”
Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”
Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”
“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.John 8:12-20
New International Version
When Jesus is speaking these words, He’s at the Festival of Tabernacles. This festival occurs in late autumn and celebrated the harvest. Also, closely associated with it was the autumn equinox when night and day are of equal length. Thus, there was also a celebration of light associated with it.
Into this world, Jesus tells them, “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). The theme of “light” used as spiritual awakening was common in Jesus’ world.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day challenged Him because they claimed Jesus was testifying about Himself and in the courts of the Jewish people, His testimony wasn’t valid. But Jesus tells them He isn’t the only witness about Himself. His Father also testifies about Him.
The Light of the World was standing in their presence. He was offering to illuminate the darkness of their souls. He was offering the people the chance to turn the light on in their souls.
They could have truly gotten to know the Father in Heaven if they could have turned on the light Jesus offered. But the religious people couldn’t accept it.
If the religious leaders and those following them could have flipped the switch the light Jesus offers, then they would have known the Father, understood the mission of Jesus, and received illumination to the souls.
The light is still offered. Jesus still offers to illuminate our souls from the darkness of sin.
But we have to be willing to admit we’re in darkness. We have to admit we’re in such spiritual darkness, that we can’t see anything in front of us.
Only then, will we understand the light Jesus offers. Only then, will we flip the switch and turn on the Light.