I AM the Light of the World

I AM The light of the world

“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

This is the second of the 7 I AM statements made by Jesus. The claim “I AM the light of the world” is a bold claim by Jesus, because He makes a claim to be both God and the Messiah / Christ of Israel. In this article, we want to help break down this verse so we can get a better understanding of how Jesus makes His claim as both God and Christ, the Messiah of Israel. We also want to look at what it means to really follow Jesus as ‘the Light’. Join us as we dig deeper into scripture.

The scene is set at the temple grounds during the feast of tabernacles. Jesus is standing in the treasury (Also known as the courtyard of the women as this was as far as women could go in the temple) as He declares to the people “I AM the light of the world…”. A few Points we want to emphasize,

1. This would have been the most packed area of the temple.

2. This would have been the brightest area within the temple because there would have been giant lampstands in the four corners of the courtyard shining its light for all the people. During the feast of Tabernacle, the lampstands would have been lit up during the night in remembrance of the 40 years Israel wandered through the wilderness to the promised land. Israel remembers during this feast how they were led by God Himself as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to the promised land.

3. When Jesus made this statement, He would have compared Himself to the bright lampstands lighting up the courtyard and everyone would have heard Him make this claim. The Jewish people would have (or should have) understood the claim He was making because Jewish rabbis would have taught the people, ‘the light of the world’ is a title of the Messiah.


We also want to recap from a previous Fresh Truth article ‘Who did Jesus say He is?’ that Jesus “I AM” statements were His claims to be God (John 8:58). He was not just claiming to be a great teacher or a great prophet, but the God of Israel Himself. And just as the title ‘I AM’ was used by Jesus to identify Himself as God, Jesus does the same using ‘The Light’ to describe Himself as God. This title is used in scripture to describe God as light. 1 John 1:5b ‘…God is light and in Him is no darkness at all’; David writes in his Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation…”; Psalm 18:28 reads “For You light my lamp, The Lord my God illumines my darkness.” Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my Light and my salvation…” By using the statement “I AM the light of the world” Jesus is further identifying Himself as God. He also gives us a strong warning in John 8:24, that if we ignore His claims as the I AM, we will die in our sins.


This claim of Jesus as “the light of the world” was also His claim to be the prophesied Messiah. In Isaiah there are many chapters that talk about the servant of the Lord and biblical teachers agree that this is talking about the promised messiah.

Isaiah 42:6-7:

“I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the world, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the prison, Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.

Isaiah says here that the messiah will be a light to the world. Again, in Isaiah 49: 6 it says “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant. To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”

When Jesus is making this claim to be ‘the light of the world’, He is making an exclusive claim. He is telling people, that apart from the light He offers, we will walk in darkness if we don’t follow Him. Again, we reiterate, Jesus is making the claim to be the prophesied Messiah.


We now move to Jesus ‘follow me’ statement, “He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life”: The Greek words used here for ‘follow me’ is ‘Akoloutheo ego’ and when these Greek words are used in this text, it’s a call to follow Him as a disciple. It’s a command to follow His example (Luke 9:23). It’s a command to follow His words (John 8:31). To go back to the context of the feast of Tabernacles. As the Jewish people remember the time when God led them to the promised land as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of Fire by night during the 40 years in the wilderness, we are also called to follow Jesus as ‘the light of the world’ to lead us to the promise of Eternal life. If we don’t follow ‘the light’ He offers, we will walk in darkness.

Other examples of following Jesus are: We are called to follow Him as Sheep (John 10:27). Just as sheep are led by a shepherd, so Jesus must become our shepherd; We are called to follow Jesus as a servant (John 12:26). Just as a faithful servant listens to the commands of His master, we obey the commands of Jesus as our master; We follow Him as soldiers, just as soldiers would follow the command of their commanders, we follow the commands of Jesus as our commander. To follow Jesus means we are to be His disciples. We are to be obedient to His words and follow Him.


The Bible is clear that we must put our faith in Jesus and follow Him as our light that God provided for us. He is the only way for us to come out of darkness and into a right relationship with God. We must believe in Jesus as both God and as the promised Messiah. There is no other way to be saved apart from believing in Jesus to be our light. Just like the Israelites followed God in the wilderness for 40 years as a pillar of Light during the night towards the promised land, So Jesus will lead us as the light of the world to the promise of everlasting life. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever shall believe in Him, Shall not perish but have everlasting life.” If you haven’t made the decision to follow Jesus, we encourage you that by believing in His death, burial and resurrection we have an opportunity to be in right relationship with God. Turn to Jesus, repent of your sins, and trust in Him for your eternal salvation while you still have time.


The Women’s Court – Temple Institute

Blue Letter Bible.com


The Holy Bible

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