John 12:35-36 So Jesus said to them, “The Light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the Light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, that you may become sons of Light.”
Knowing Jesus Christ as the Light of the World changes everything; changes how we look at ourselves…changes how we look at the world.
If Jesus is indeed God in human flesh, then He is certainly the Light of the World. He is what each and every person needs long before a person knows he needs it. Which is why it is such a very precious thing when a child is taught the name of Jesus by word and deed from the time he is born! It becomes possible for that child to grow up never not having heard the name of Jesus. What an invaluable gift when parents and grandparents teach little ones to know the Light of the World and to walk with Him!
These days….more parents, and people in general, seek light for their world from a variety of other sources. They may know of Jesus and something about Him, but quite simply they don’t know Jesus as the Light of the World. And whatever dim reflection of His light inhabits those lesser sources they rely upon, it is not the same thing as to know oneself to be a son or a daughter of the Light.
A good antidote to being in the dark about oneself is to read St. John’s Gospel in this holiest week of the year. From the beginning of his Gospel, John makes extravagant claims about Jesus as God in human flesh. And soon in your reading you come, as we did in this year’s Lenten season Readings, to John 3, and the dialogue that happens at night between Jesus and Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a man who considered himself to be thoroughly enlightened. And, in the midst of that dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus, it dawns on you that knowing the Light of the World changes the way you look at your own life.
St. John continues into chapter 4 with that stimulating conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman; a woman who certainly could have described herself as enlightened, if not, at least, street smart. And on and on John writes, until you arrive at that masterfully told drama of chapter 9, where Jesus heals the man born blind. This blind man sees more than both the enlightened Pharisees and his own clueless parents.
Then the Evangelist brings us right up to this week, passing through chapter 11 and the raising of Lazarus from the dead. By this time we get the point: Jesus intends to raise us from the darkness of dead faith to know Him, to walk in His light.
To know Jesus as the Light of the World changes the way we look at ourselves. It changes the way we look at everything, because in John’s Gospel, darkness is not simply ignorance. It is, in fact, opposition to Jesus; a persistent, pernicious choice not to walk with Him.
Which brings us, finally, to Tuesday of Holy Week and our Lord’s pointed warning that darkness can overtake those who do not walk with the Light of the World.
We are reminded this week of one who is overtaken by darkness: Judas. He knew Jesus the Light of the World. But Judas refused to walk with Him and slipped off into the darkness. Simon Peter will sit in the courtyard on the verge of being pulled into that same darkness. And sadly we see it too often in those who have known, or at least know of, the Light of the World, but…who decide to walk apart…in a darkness that is, humanly speaking, impenetrable.
As we continue through this Holy Week, we gather in this brief time to draw closely to Jesus, that we may not join company with Judas. Jesus’ Light lightens our darkness, even the darkness of our sometimes-too-small self-awareness.
To Him, the Lamb of God, who takes our many sins to His cross and then buries us with Him in Holy Baptism, who forgives us, renews us, and leads us that we may delight in His company and walk as children of the Light—to Jesus Christ be glory. Amen