From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Two, Day One
According to Jewish tradition, one of the names for the Messiah is "Light." How fitting, then, that Jesus is called the "Light of the world." John's Gospel portrays Jesus as the light that vanquishes the darkness brought on by sin — a darkness that ends in death. Christ has opened the eyes of a sin-darkened world to the truth of the gospel. We who believe in him have moved from darkness to light, from death to life. When we pray to Jesus as the Light of the world, let us remember that we are calling on the One who was so determined to draw us into his light that he spent nine months in the darkness of his mother's womb in order to become one of us. Let us ask Jesus, our Light, to make us shine with his reflected glory.
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
His Name Revealed
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. John 1:3 - 9
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." John 8:12
Lord, how strange it must have been to enter the world as the only sighted man and to encounter a world so enshrouded that people could not see your light. Forgive me for my self-imposed blindness. Help me to follow you faithfully so that I can see you more clearly, reflecting your light and glory now and forever. Amen.
Understanding the Name
The Hebrew Scriptures are full of images that link God with light — pillars of fire, burning lamps, consuming fire. Such images are often associated with God's nearness or his presence. John's Gospel portrays Jesus as the embodiment of the divine light, a light so powerful that it cannot be overcome by the darkness of sin and death. Though Satan tries to disguise himself as an angel of light, he is light's opposite — the prince of darkness.
The phrase "light of the world" — to phos tou kosmou (to FOHS tou KOS-mou) — appears three times in the New Testament (Matthew 5:14; John 8:12; 9:5). It is a distinctive phrase spoken only by Jesus, who uses it twice to refer to himself and once to refer to his disciples, who are to reflect his light through their good deeds.
Just as natural light is essential to life on earth, Christ's light is essential to unending life with God. Whoever believes in his light becomes like him, reflecting his brightness by walking in his light and obeying his commands.
Studying the Name
- Why do you think John's Gospel uses images of light and darkness to describe Jesus and the world's response to him?
- What do the terms "light" and "dark" mean to you?
- Have you ever felt you were living through a time of darkness? Describe what it felt like.
- Have you experienced Jesus as light? If so, how?
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.