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 NIV
Part of the magic of this time of year is the lights.
Oh, the Christmas lights.
We have neighbors around the corner who spend a good part of October and November setting up all manner of blow-up yard decorations and lights hanging from every eave and lit candy canes lining the paths of their yard. The neighborhood is inviting to wander all over their property, taking in a collection of Christmas light decorations that requires several storage units to hold all of it once the holiday season is over.
It is wonderfully tacky and crazy.
And my kids think is wondrously magical.
Lights everywhere, lighting up the night. Making the darkness recede. Sparkles against a dark canvas.
We have a few lights spread throughout our home. The lights on the tree. Wound through garland. Shining through little decorations. It makes the house seem special. Different. Something other.
When Jesus began to reveal to His followers His identity, He did it through a series of incremental steps. A miracle here. A definition there. A clarification. A label.
And when I think on His revealing the aspect of His being that is light, I have to wonder what His followers took from that. Living in an agrarian society, no electricity, only small oil lamps to push back the darkness of night, how much more precious and treasured would the concept of light have been understood.
And how much more its power.
We now fret over something scientists call 'light pollution'. Our technology lights up the night sky with street lamps and porch lights and car headlights and security beams. As one side of the planet turns its face from the sun and welcomes the moon, satellites show us that there are very few areas in our industrialized nations that truly experience the deep dark of night. Our night time silhouette is photographed as sparkles of incandescent yellow hemmed in on its coasts by the borders of unlit seas.
But in those hills of Judea two millennia ago, when the dusk came on and the pink streaks of the sunset flickered out, the dark would lay like a heavy blanket. The work of the day stopped. The security of vision ceased. Unless a full moon lit the roads, all travel would stop. With darkness came an end of the familiar and the long wait until dawn.
Light was the first of God's creations once the heavens and earth were formed. Light. There from the beginning. Making life on this planet possible.
And now Jesus reveals to His disciples that He is light. That may have been very difficult for them to understand, a band of fishermen, a tax collector, a couple of competitive brothers. How esoteric. How ethereal. To say that one is the light of the world.
But no doubt they would have connected the reference to those first few sentences of the Torah. Let there be light.
And now that Light stands before them.
I sit at my desk, the tiny white lights of our decor glittering and reflecting on the glass of the window. Up and down the street I can see the gleam and sparkle of lights outlining shrubbery and walkways. And I can see that reminder, that glimmer of a Savior who comes to sprinkle diamonds of wave and particle upon our path.
Jesus, Light of the world.