Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John chapter 8 verse 12)

When we did science at junior school, one of my favourite topics was ‘Light’. As a teacher, one of the first things I wanted to find out was what pupils already knew, and also to introduce some vocabulary for them to learn. So between us we thought of all sorts of words associated with light: colour, light, dark, shine, sparkle, torch, lamp, see, street light, traffic lights, etc, etc. You could probably come up with more examples.

Of course, what light means to us does not stop at lessons in school. For instance, there is spectroscopy which uses the different wavelengths of light (i.e. colours) to show what something is made from. Then there are lasers which can burn, heal and also make incredibly accurate measurements. You can find lasers in hospitals, in home computers and DVD players. They are also used by astronomers to measure accurately how far away the moon is. Light is also the fastest thing in the universe that we know of.

Then again, we use the word metaphorically when we say that someone has “seen the light” – they have a sudden realisation of an important truth. (Think of the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus.) Or we might say that someone is enlightened, meaning that they understand how the world works and are not prone to superstition.

Light in one way or another is essential to our lives.

Among other things, during this liturgical season of Epiphany, we think of Jesus as “the light of the world” (John chapter 8 verse 12) and as “a light to the Gentiles (foreigners)” (Luke chapter 2 verse 32). Thinking about it, to say that Jesus is “the Light” is actually quite a big claim – when you start to think about what light can do and what light represents:

Jesus helps us in our darkness

Jesus helps us to see and to understand how things really are.

Jesus leads us away from superstition and towards truth.

Jesus is for everybody we know and for everybody we do not know.

Jesus is not just for those who call themselves Christians but is for the whole world.

May we all know the light of Christ in our lives.