I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
Light. Darkness. These themes again. Light. Darkness. What is John saying about Jesus, the character of God, and us using these images over and over again? These go all the way back to the beginning of the Gospel, in the opening words of chapter 1.
Maybe they go back even further than that. Remember the first spoken words of God in the Bible, in Genesis? One trick in reading the Bible is paying attention to spoken dialogue: The first words spoken by a character reveal something about their nature that the author wants us to see.
Let there be light (Genesis 1:3).
God’s first act in creation is separating light from darkness. What if, because of the Fall and presence of Sin and Death in the world, that separation is broken and light and darkness are all muddled up together again? And so, what if, John is showing us a Jesus rebooting creation work again? Starting new creation. Creation 2.0.
If Creation 1.0 provides us a template, then creation work begins with the separation of light from darkness. And so here comes Jesus, boasting…
I am the light of the world.
This is the beginning of new creation at work.
Chapter 8 opens with a unique story. It’s not recorded in any of the other gospels. And in fact, it’s missing from the earliest copies of John’s gospel that have been found, which leads scholars to doubt it’s authenticity. Some think it was added much later.
Whether it happened historically or not is secondary to its power as an image of grace at work.
Imagine yourself in the scene. See the fear in the woman’s eyes. Feel the rock in your own hands. What would you do?
What about you? What do you see?