John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
No one ever believed in himself more than Jesus Christ, or had a higher opinion of himself than Jesus Christ. Jesus knew that he was God in human flesh, and was not afraid to speak of himself that way.
Jesus was at the Festival of Tabernacles, which recalled the nation’s journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night (Exodus 13:21). Even in the darkest hours they never got lost, because God was with them to light their way. Jesus drew on this to say that he is the light of the world, who lights our way to the Promised Land of heaven.
In fact, the Bible makes many connections between God and light. God said, Let there be light (Genesis 1:3). God turns my darkness into light (Psalm 18:28). God . . . made his light shine in our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:6). The Lord is my light and my salvation (Psalm 27:1). Let us walk in the light of the Lord (Isaiah 2:5). And, The Lord will be your everlasting light (Isaiah 60:19). By calling himself the light of the world, Jesus was proclaiming his divinity.
Years ago my wife and I drove from Milwaukee to Saint Paul, and on the way back it began to snow. Three lanes of traffic became two, then one—then it got dark. Mile after mile the ditches were filled with cars, and we were trying not to become one of them. Eventually we got behind a semi-truck, and I focused on its taillights for the next several hours. Our six hour journey became twelve, but those two little lights led us all the way home. Whoever follows [Christ] will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
John 8:29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.
Here we see the relationship between courage and a clear conscience. Jesus was speaking to people who wanted to kill him, but he was fearless because he knew that God was with him, since he always did what pleased him. This allowed Jesus to face his opponents fearlessly.
And the courage of Christ is contagious. After the resurrection, Peter and John were arrested and brought before the same leaders who crucified Jesus. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved [said Peter]. When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus (Acts 4:12-13).
The Apostle Paul was equally courageous when he was on trial before governor Felix. As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, That is enough for now! (Acts 24:25).
Paul was on trial before the governor-judge, but he put the governor-judge on trial before God. The prisoner was self-assured, but the governor-judge became afraid. The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1), says Proverbs. The more devoted we are to Christ, the less afraid we’ll be of others.
John 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
The early church was almost entirely Jewish at first. Jesus was Jewish, the apostles were Jewish, and almost every book of the New Testament was written by a Jewish author. But it wasn’t always easy being a Jewish Christian. Within Judaism, Christianity remained a minority movement. Most Christians were Jews, but most Jews rejected Christianity.
If you are raised in a religious community, and decide to change religions, they can be hard on you. When persecution came, some who claimed to be Christians turned away from Jesus Christ. Jesus saw this coming and gave his followers a warning. If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples, he said. The test of true discipleship is not becoming a Christian, but remaining a Christian.
The most difficult part of the Christian life is the beginning, middle and end. The moment we believe in Jesus Christ, Satan starts trying to lead us away, and does not give up until we die. We should be aware of this, so we are not surprised if we are ever tempted to quit the faith.
This is also why one of the most repeated commands in the Bible is to hold on. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you (1 Corinthians 15:2). [H]old firmly to the word of life (Philippians 2:16). [H]old fast to the teachings (2 Thessalonians 2:15). [H]old firmly to the trustworthy message (Titus 1:9). [H]old firmly to the faith (Hebrews 4:14). If the Bible says something once, it is important. But if it repeats it many times, it could be even more important.
Reflection and Review
Why did Jesus compare himself to light?
Why does obedience lead to courage?
Are you ever tempted to stop following Christ?