Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness…
All the light that comes to us from the sun is made up of the beams, which he is continually pouring forth. When this light is decomposed, it is found to be made up of seven different coloured rays. There are blue, and red, and orange, and yellow, and so on. These rays differ from each other in other things. The red has more heat in it; the yellow is the coldest; and the violet is the quickest in its motion. And if we wish to understand the light, we must find out all we can about the different rays. And so, if we would have a right knowledge of Jesus, we must study the different rays that shine from Him as the Sun of Righteousness. We are dependent on the sun for —
I. LIFE. The light of the sun has no power to make dead things alive by shining upon them. Suppose we take a dead body, or plant, and lay it down where the light of the sun can shine on it; the light has no power to give life when it does not exist; but it can help to preserve it. The light of the sun is needed in order to keep everything alive. If the light were taken away, everything would die. And for this reason, Jesus might well say of Himself, "I am the Light of the world." He is more necessary for the life of our souls than the light of the sun is for the life of our bodies. The light which shines from Jesus is made up of the truths taught us in the Bible about His character and work. The light which shines from Jesus has the power of giving life to souls that are dead, as well as of keeping them alive when it is given. When ministers preach the gospel, or when Christian people read it, or preach it to others, they are scattering light from Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness. And the light thus scattered has the power of giving life to souls that were dead in sins.
II. GROWTH. If the light were taken away from plants, and they were kept in the dark, they would not grow, Suppose you have a lot of potatoes in your cellar. If there is no window the potatoes will rot. But if there is a window those potatoes will begin to grow over towards the window. As you see them straggling across the cellar floor, it looks as if the potatoes were stretching out their arms towards the light, and begging it to come and help them to grow. And it is the same with the flowers and the trees, and with every other kind of vegetable. Each, in its place, is dependent on the light. None of them can grow without it. Here is an acorn. What a tiny little thing it is! Yet, there is a big oak tree stowed away in this little cup. But, then, that tree can never get out of the acorn and grow up to its proper size without the help of the sunlight. It needs the light to make it begin to grow. Then it springs up a tender little sprouting thing, which an infant's foot could crush. But every year it grows higher, and broader, and stronger. And, as it goes on increasing in size and strength, the trunk depends on the branches, and the branches depend on the leaves, and the leaves depend on the sunlight for all they need to make the tree grow. And just in the same way our souls depend for their growth on the light that Jesus gives. A young Christian, just converted, is like an acorn just beginning to grow. A mature Christian, who has reached what the Apostle Paul calls "the stature of a perfect man in Christ," is like the tree that has grown up to its full size out of the little acorn. The tree can only grow by the help of the light which the sun gives, and the soul can only grow by the help of the light which Jesus gives.
III. BEAUTY. Light is one of the most beautiful things that God has made, and it makes other things beautiful. All the beauty that we see in the world around us we owe to the light. Suppose you go into a garden full of flowers on a dark night. How many colours will you see among the flowers? Only one. Black. Suppose you go and look at a gallery of beautiful paintings in the dark. How many colours will you see? Only black. Suppose you look at a great mass of clouds in the western sky at the close of the afternoon. They are all of one colour; and this is a dark grey, almost black. There is very little beauty in those clouds. But presently the sun gets behind them. He pours a flood of light over them and through them; and what a change takes place in a moment. What different colours are there! How beautiful they are! And what has made this change? The light has done it. All those beautiful colours are made by the light. And Jesus may well be called "the Light of the world" on this account. Like the light, He is beautiful in Himself, and He makes others beautiful. Jesus is a glorious sun, and the light that He gives comes to us like sunbeams, that spread brightness and beauty everywhere.
IV. SAFETY. There is danger in darkness. We cannot see the evils that threaten us then, nor how to escape them. It is under the cover of darkness that thieves go forth to rob, and murderers to kill, and all sorts of wicked people to do bad things (John 3:20), Our merchants and shopkeepers have found out there is safety in light; and they are putting this knowledge to a good use. When I was a boy, I remember that at night the jeweller's stores, and others that had valuable things in them, used to have heavy wooden or iron shutters to the windows; and these would be fastened with locks, or great iron bolts or bars. And all this was done for safety. But now many of those stores have no shutters at all to them; and others only have a thin wire grating over them. But, if you stop and look through one of those windows at night, you will find that the gas is lighted in the store, and kept burning. If a thief should get in there and begin to steal, he would be seen by the watchman, or the people going by. And so the thieves stay away. They are afraid to go into a shop where the gas is burning. This shows us that there is safety in light. And Jesus may well be called "the Light of the world," because He brings salvation wherever He comes. And salvation means safety. When we learn to know Him, and trust in Him, we are safe (Proverbs 18:10; Psalm 91:4; Matthew 23:37). But He does this for all who love Him. When we learn to know Him and trust Him, it is just as if a beam of light had shined down on our path to show us the way to a safe hiding place.
(Richard Newton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.