December 12 — A Light to Follow
“Jesus once again addressed them (the people): ‘I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in’” (John 8:12 The Message).
In Need of Direction
People in Jesus’ day needed help the same way people in our day need help. The Jews were living in a dark time in which hope was in short supply. They were oppressed by the Romans who governed with a ruthless attitude. The Romans used some of the Jews to collect taxes for them. The tax collectors had the authority to take whatever they wanted as long as they met their quota for the government. Most of the people were poor and powerless.
When Jesus began His ministry, He taught differently from the religious teachers, or rabbis, the people were familiar with. The rabbis read the Law and quoted explanations from rabbis from previous eras. Jesus read the Law and spoke with authority that came straight from God. People were astonished at His teaching.
The religious authorities had a problem with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry. He didn’t do things the way they did things. He challenged the state of things. A statement like, “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness” would have really ticked them off. It was a bold claim for someone raised as the son of a carpenter to make. It was an entirely reasonable claim for the Son of God to make.
Following The Light Rather Than A Set of Directions
Charles Lowery illustrates the importance of having someone to follow with the story who was trying to find the house of a friend who lived in the country. After looking unsuccessfully for a while, he decided to go against his manly nature and ask directions. He found a convenience store and explained where he was trying to go. One person gave him directions that went something like this: “Go down this road about a mile and a half and you’ll see a black cow standing out in the field. About a quarter of a mile past there, you’ll see where the end of the fence row used to be. Go to the end of that road. You can see the house from there.”
Another fellow standing in the store said, “I’m headed that direction myself. Just follow me and I’ll show you where it is.” Lowery said the fellow he followed took him right to the house.
Jesus said that anyone who followed Him would not stumble in the dark. What does following Jesus mean? Jesus gave some answers:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV).
“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday concerns will be met” (Matthew 6:33 The Message).
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV).
The Bottom Line
Jesus is the Light that shows the way through life. He came so that we can know Him personally. Christmas is when we celebrate the Light invading the darkness.