As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (NRSV)
Imagine you are in a blackout. You get hold of a torch in order to check the electricity meter box. What will the torch do? It will point the way to the meter box, ensuring you don’t take a wrong turn or stumble over an obstacle. Jesus is a speaking signpost, pointing the way to God. His teaching helps us avoid pitfalls and keeps us in the right path.
Then that same torch will shed light on those circuit breakers in the meter box. It doesn’t show us the way to our destination, it illuminates that destination. It acts like a floodlight. Jesus similarly shines a spotlight on God. He illuminates the reality of God. He is God spelling himself out in a language we humans can understand. When it comes to knowing God, we are not blundering in the dark.
And the torch does something else: it actually highlights how dark the surrounding darkness is. The glare of the light seems to show up the intensity of the darkness. Jesus said that his goodness will show up the world’s badness. His ministry aroused the forces of darkness and showed those forces that something stronger was at work.
In all these ways, Jesus is light of the world. Helen Keller was both deaf and blind. Once she was asked if being blind was the worst thing in the world. She replied there was one thing even worse: having perfect eyesight and yet seeing nothing. We, who so often slink around in the darkness, badly need to embrace the one who gives light and sight to each one of us.
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