(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
The Light of the World
19th May 2012
Right after the beatitudes, Jesus said:
There is, of course, a great deal to be said about the idea that Christians are the salt of the earth, improving society and preserving what's good in it. This week, though, let's look instead at Jesus's amazing statement that His disciples (see verses 1-2) are the light of the world.
This means that Jesus's disciples - us - are called to be like Him, and to carry on His ministry.
John tells us in two places that Jesus described Himself as the light of the world. The first is:
Of course, we all accept this without reservation. All followers of Jesus have the light of life. As Paul expressed it:
2 Corinthians 4v6
The second time John records Jesus describing Himself in this way is when His disciples were asking Him about the man who had been born blind. They wondered if his blindness was some sort of punishment for sin, committed either by him or by his parents, but Jesus replied:
Jesus went on to heal the blind man. In His own words, He was displaying the work of God. And He says that, because He was doing this, He was the light of the world. But he also says in this answer that this is true "while I [Jesus] am in the world".
While Jesus was in the world, He did what He described as "the work of him who sent me". Now that Jesus has ascended into heaven, it's you and me - the followers of Jesus - who must do the Father's work. It's you and me who must display the work of God.
This teaching comes right after the beatitudes, and there's a strong connection between them:
You and I are followers of Jesus, His disciples. We are called to be like Him. That's why we're called "Christians". And we must not allow our shyness, or even our humility, or our awareness that we still sin, to dissuade us from obeying Christ's command to "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and praise your Father in heaven".
How will our neighbours discover the love, mercy and goodness of God, if we don't display them?
Who will do God's work, if not us?
Jesus said "Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.