The Light of the World verse appears in the bible at John 8:12, John 9:5, and Matthew 5:14. Let’s study the context and significance.
The Light of the World verse appears first in John 8:12
12 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.John 8:12
This verse shares the same chapter as the story of the woman caught in adultery.
The Pharisees tried to put Jesus on the spot by throwing a woman they caught in adultery in front of Him, and challenge Him to condemn her or condone her. They thought they had the perfect dilemma to test Him.
Jesus did neither. After He defeated the Pharisees, He declared, “I am the light of the world“.
The Pharisees who professed to be followers of the Law did not have the light. They could not recognize that Jesus is the one who wrote the Law. John 8:6 recounted, “But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.”
The Temple ground is made of stone. Does it not resemble God writing the Ten Commandments on stone tablets? If the Pharisees are truly followers of God, they will have the light of life. They won’t be blind to the truth of Jesus’ identity.
The Light of the World verse appears a second time in John 9:5
4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.John 9:4-7
He said this right before He healed the blind man and give him back his sight, allowing light to enter the man’s eyes again. He is the light of the world, He is the answer to the needs of the world then. It is not just spiritual sight He bring. It is physical sight as well.
The light of the world verse appears a third time in Matthew 5:14.
But this time, Jesus said that we are the light of the world.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.Matthew 5:14-15
It is not we WILL become the light of the world, it is You ARE the light of the world.
Jesus uses two examples to explain what he meant by “light of the world“.
- city on a hill
- lamp in the house
What is the difference between the light of the “city on a hill” and the “lamp in the house“?
The light of the city draws attention to the city itself. It is not to give light to its surroundings.
The light of the lamp is more functional. It is used to illuminate the surroundings. In most cases, the lamp is not even noticed by the people in the house. It does not draw attention to itself.
The sequence is significant too. Like the city on a hill, we draw others to ourselves with our lights. Then, like a lamp in a house, we illuminate for others.
Our blessed lives and good works are to be like lights pointing men to God the Father. Good works are not used as qualifications to enter into God’s Kingdom.
There are two worship songs that refer to the Light of the World.
Light of the World by Lauren Daigle
The world waits for a miracle The heart longs for a little bit of hope Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel A child prays for peace on Earth And she's calling out from a sea of hurt Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel And can you hear the angels singing Glory to the light of the world Glory, the light of the world is here The drought breaks with the tears of a mother A baby's cry is the sound of love Come down, come down, Emmanuel He is the song for the suffering He is Messiah, the Prince of Peace has come He has come, Emmanuel Glory to the light of the world Glory to the light of the world Glory to the light of the world Glory to the light of the world For all who wait For all who hunger For all who've prayed For all who…
Here I Am To Worship by Tim Hughes
This song was Tim Hughes’ response after reading Philippians 2 in 1999. The opening line “Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness, opened my eyes, let me see” juxtaposes light with darkness and how blind eyes are opened with light.
Light of the world You stepped down into darkness Opened my eyes, let me see Beauty that made this heart adore You Hope of a life spent with You Here I am to worship Here I am to bow down Here I am to say that You're my God You're altogether lovely Altogether worthy Altogether wonderful to me King of all days Oh so highly exalted Glorious in heaven above Humbly You came to the earth You created All for love's sake became poor Here I am to worship Here I am to bow down Here I am to say that You're my God You're altogether lovely Altogether worthy Altogether wonderful to me Well, I'll never know how much it cost To see my sin upon that cross Well, I'll never know how much it cost To see my sin upon that cross Well, I'll never know how much it cost To see my sin upon that cross Well, I'll never know how much it cost To see my sin upon that cross