During the summer of 1979, I backpacked and canoed in the state of Maine for 9 weeks. A group of us climbed Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park 7 times that summer and crossed the Knife Edge Trail on 2 separate occasions. Three of us served as the counselors for a Christian camp and we led teenagers in this wilderness experience. It was a rich summer filled with adventure and I learned so much.
As we sat around the campfire on our first night of orientation, our director told us that we would not be using flashlights over the next two months. Rather, we were going to use our eyes and the natural night lights (moon and stars), as well as the campfire light, to find our way around for the remainder of the summer. Very quickly, I learned the value of even a small amount of light in the midst of darkness.
In chapter 1, verse 5, John writes, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can not extinguish it.” The author again points to Jesus in verse 9 and says, “The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” We quickly notice the obvious contrast between the darkness of this world and the true light, Jesus. In recent months, the darkness of this world seems to be more dismal and intense. The news is filled with reports of darkness and evil. Fear often accompanies darkness and we choose to stay away from a dark street, alley, or forest. Without light, we are unsure of what or who may lurk in the dark corners or shadows.
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” ~John 8:12
Most of us have been outside on a dark night without the moon’s light, and then a few weeks later, we have ventured outside to experience the night’s darkness with the full moon shining brightly. Even the waning crescent moon (1 1% of full) can allow you to follow a simple pathway. The phases of the moon throughout the month make a difference in the degree of visibility and the night’s darkness.
Friends, Jesus came to bring light and to shine brightly in the darkness of this world. He calls each of us to follow Him. The conjunction at the end of verse 12 points us to the reason why we follow the light of the world. It reads, “because you will have the light that leads to life” [emphasis mine]. The very definition of light says that vision is possible because light stimulates the visual receptors. In order to see, we need light.
Jesus is the light and He came to show us the way to life. Are you following Him? If you are following His light, what are some practical ways you can spread more light in this dark world? Our words and actions can shine a bright light on difficult and dark circumstances of life for others to witness or to encourage them personally.
Are you reading the gospel of John with us this month? The reading schedule is included here for your convenience. Remember to make note of the “I am” statements throughout this book. Would you also partner with a friend to memorize John 15:1-17 this month?