I am the Light of the world…
Again, the Pharisees are upset at the words of Christ. Jesus declares that “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The Jews could not believe that Christ was exalting Himself as the Light of the World. As Christ articulates, He is not exalting Himself. The Father is exalting Him. Christ is only doing the will of the Father and what the Father instructs Him to do. Because the Jews Jesus is speaking to did not really know the Father, they did not recognize the Son.
I want us to spend a few moments here. We are quick to question the Jews for not recognizing Christ as the Son of God and worshipping Him. We often times will ask how they could see all the signs Christ performs and not believe. We have to remind ourselves where they were. Let us not forget how much our own lives can reflect the actions of the Pharisees. The Jewish nation was expecting someone much different than Christ to come as the Messiah. Generation after generation of their forefathers taught them what to expect as they wait for the Messiah, and their whole lives were waiting for this expected Messiah.
As a result, when Jesus did come, they did not recognize Him. Their tradition blinded them to see Christ standing right in front of them. This is where we can be just like the Jews. We often times get so stuck in rituals and traditions. Our tradition, which at the beginning is intended for good, can steer us away from what is truly the will of the Father.
Does this mean tradition is bad? No! Tradition can be a great way in which we worship God. Howerver, tradition can quickly turn into mindless action. This is clearly what happened to the Jews that are surrounding Jesus as He teaches in the Temple. In response to the Jews man-made tradition, “He [Christ] said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins,” John 8:23-24. And then later Jesus states, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” John 8:31-32. May we be set free by Christ not bound by sin and pride believing in a tradition that is man-made. It is my prayer that we are able to see the heart of the Father without being controlled by our tradition.
Fighting the same struggle, the Jews keep bringing up the patriarchs of the past. First, Moses is the point of much discussion. Christ tells them that someone much greater than Moses is before them. Now, they ask “are you greater than our father Abraham?” They still cannot grasp who Christ is. They are blinded and their tradition and preconceived notions prevent them from believing. Let us see how Christ responds, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
Which takes us back to John 1…“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
This Christmas season may we not become ensnared by tradition that is mindless. May our hearts and minds be focused on the One whom is due all of our love and worship. May we remember together, Christ is the “Light of the world” and “I AM!”