The Light of the World
Read Time: 7 minutes
Jesus is, “the light of the world”. [Jn 8:12]
We’ve heard and read those words often, but take a moment and consider what light is.
Light most obviously allows us to see other things. We don’t stare into the sun or even into a light bulb…or at least we shouldn’t. Light reveals what is present.
Though we don’t stare into a bright “light”, sparkling stars dotting the night sky link us to the immensity of the universe. The North-Star is still used in navigation; light is also a beacon — a lighthouse for example, tells that the shore is near.
Jesus is both. His light reveals and allows us to see; He is also the beacon of goodness and truth.
But simply “seeing” is not enough. Jesus calls us to see as He sees, and through that “deeper seeing”, to love as Jesus loves.
Jesus shows us that there is so much more to life. As one author described it, our lives are a search for the name God gave us before we were born.
We explore many blind alleys in our search and take more than a few detours as we stumble through life. To paraphrase a quote attributed to Churchill, we will do the right thing – after exhausting all other options.
In our earnest striving to please God we are also prone to putting aside the light of Christ. We default to the legalism that we think demonstrates our worthiness. Somehow we forget that in trying to make ourselves worthy, we distance ourselves from the very thing that does make us worthy — God’s welcoming arms of mercy.
Nothing about Jesus ever pushed anyone away. Jesus ate with sinners – he called Matthew, a tax collector, into discipleship; Mary, a well-known sinner, washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair as she anointed them with expensive ointment… all the while, the Pharisees criticized Him, believing they alone judged in God’s honour.
Jesus saw evil clearly, and condemned it, but never the person – new choices are always possible. Jesus shows us God’s redemptive love, and through God’s mercy we are called to forgive ourselves and others.
“Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and then we shall be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…’”? [Jn 14:8-9]
Jesus as usual, speaks in metaphors — God doesn’t look like a human Jesus. Jesus was showing us the essence of God so that we would see via the experience of God’s mercy.
By living what we see in Jesus, we step beyond the physical; we glimpse into the heart. We see how God loves, how God cares. We see the redemptive love that would die before condemning any of those who called for His death, scourged His flesh, or hammered the nails.
Jesus demonstrated that God is always more concerned about fidelity to Love than obedience to ordinance minutiae — this, is the fulfillment of God’s Law.
If we love, truly love to the best of our ability, the prominence of “Thou shalt… and Thou shall not…”, fades. The Law neither disappears nor does it become irrelevant — the Law is fulfilled in Jesus. [Mtt 5:7]
Jesus was asked what the greatest Commandment was. He responded in Mtt 22: 37-40.
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets too.”
These are the Commandments that Jesus calls us to grow into that they should become a natural part of us. We love God by loving our neighbour.
When we love our neighbour, we begin to see with the Light of Christ — we begin to love as Jesus loved.
There is a Jewish Midrash about our soul: Having seen and lived with God, we knew the secrets of God and love — but at our birth, an Angel touches our upper lip to veil our memory and silence us… Why!? …because life is about discovering love. We must choose it, freely, though it may cost us dearly because in our weakness, we don’t always chose wisely. We hurt others and others hurt us. Such is the journey of life; such is the price of love.
Our lives are growth into an ever deeper appreciation of love as we also discover the pain of the absence of love, and even to know hate and anger, love’s opposite. These are the opportunities — even through the gifts of sadness, to chose and cherish love all the more. The Angel’s touch leaves a mark — the little cleft in our upper lip.
We are called to use the Light of Christ to see as Jesus sees — only then can we reflect the beacon of light and truth that He is.
Jesus always sees through eyes of redemptive love, and always invites to relationship. It is through relationship that we change and grow in our ability to love and be loved. Jesus’ capacity to love is bounded only by the universe that was created by love, to be loved.
Jesus’ heart capacity — His capacity to see the good in everyone, and invite them into His goodness so that we would grow in His love, is limitless.
Would we want our God to be any smaller than that?