someone please turn on the light | John 8.12
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 8:12 | ESV
And so once again, amid the endless speculation and controversy, bathed in the light of the huge lamp stand menorahs in the temple courtyard as the Tentmaker celebration finished winding down, Jesus spoke up: “I am the light of the world! The one who tracks with me through thick and thin will never, ever find himself stumbling around in the dark – no, they’ll be beaming with the light of life on their faces! (Move over, veiled Moses from the mount!)” MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
If we set aside the interrupting disputed text about the disreputable woman, there is a cohesive fit between John 7:52 and 8:11. The last words in chapter seven were spoken by the religious experts in their pronouncement “No prophet arises from Galilee! Check out the Scriptures yourself and see!” And while Jesus doesn’t directly quote the passage in Isaiah, I posit that it’s the unstated link between their pronouncement and this next “I AM” statement of Jesus. The first few lines of what we know as Isaiah 9 read (as captured by Peterson’s the Message):
But there’ll be no darkness for those who were in trouble. Earlier he did bring the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali into disrepute, but the time is coming when he’ll make that whole area glorious— the road along the Sea, the country past the Jordan, international Galilee.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
light! sunbursts of light!
This is one of those Messianic threads they clearly identified as being woven through Isaiah’s heavily Messianic prophetic work.
And Jesus owns it.
Right under their noses in their own holy books – and now eclipsing the blazing menorahs in their own temple in the presence of Jesus.
“I am the light of the world!”
It’s a stand-alone statement at this point. He doesn’t take it and run with it, develop it – that will come in the next story when Jesus heals the man born blind in these same temple courts. But for now it hangs in the air, waiting for the convergence of sign and statement.
And even then they won’t see.
We’d much rather debate the Light and its origin than bask in its healing warmth. And so the debate commences anew, this time in the Temple Treasury, as pauper rabbi squares off with priestly power on their temple turf – a debate that will end, once again, with grasped stones rather than discerned truth.
Someone, please, turn on the light.
Why can we be so obsessed with “debating the Light rather than basking in its healing warmth”?
How can we break this dysfunctional cycle?
Light of the world, pull back the dark curtains that can shroud my heart, mind and soul. Shine in those dark recesses. Let there be light! And free me to bask in it without fear. Through Jesus.