Saturday December 27, 2008
You are the light of the world. Matt 5:14
Jesus is speaking to his disciples, calling them the light of the world. Strange, because in John’s gospel, Jesus claims that he is the light of the world, 8:12 and 9:5. This can only be explained by assuming that his disciples understood who he was and so reflected his light. What is light in this context? God is the source of the natural light that we see by, and to be separated from him is to be in perpetual blackness, a characteristic of hell. But here light also is a symbol of truth, which Jesus also claimed to be—the way, the life and the truth.
This is contrary to the way Jesus is perceived by western populations in general. He is considered to be one of a smorgasbord of competing ideas all claiming to be the truth, often perceived to be a variety of superstitions that bring a measure of comfort to those foolish enough to believe them. This makes Jesus out to be a fool or mentally deranged for believing his own message, or a charlatan trying to con those ignorant enough to be taken in by him. Not that he gained much from his perceived deception; crucifixion on a Roman cross was not much of a prize!
The problem is that if one belief is the truth, much of another claim to truth is not. The current pressure for tolerance is a thinly veiled coercion for compromise. Christians have no problem with the first, but balk at the second. If, as we believe, Jesus is God come to earth to reveal himself to humankind, then Jesus is the light of the world, the basic truth of the universe that we ignore or reject at our peril. But to receive him is entry into an understanding of life—the light of the world—not to be found anywhere else.