What does it mean to be the Light of the World?
In John, Jesus returns to the scene of his first miracle – Cana, where he changed water into wine. This time it is not a party that draws Jesus’ attention, but a royal official, whose son lay ill in a neighboring town about 20 miles away.
The news of Jesus must have gotten out, because this royal official heard that Jesus had come to the Galilee region and set out to find him. He begs Jesus to heal his son. “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe,” Jesus says. The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my little boy dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.”
The next day, as he was heading back, his slaves met him on the road to declare that his son had been healed. Think about that for a minute! He doesn’t even lay a hand on this kid, and he is healed! His power is growing! Healing now is taking place even without meeting the one doing the healing. Extraordinary.
There is a series of stories in John that help identify Jesus as the “light of the world.” It is a light that is shining on those whose worth is questionable in the eyes of many. Previous to today’s reading Jesus has a remarkable conversation with a Samaritan woman (which is one strike against him, in the eyes of his critics). Today it is a government official (i.e. a Roman), another strike. Next, he heals on the Sabbath.
Grace is spilling out all over, and the laws of the Pharisees and of the temple guard are being challenged. We are setting the stage, not only for the cross, but for the revelation of God’s light to the world.
We also witness the growth of power. Jesus’ power is not limited to those he meets face to face anymore. This story, like that of the feeding of the five thousand, witnesses to a grace that is almost limitless, spilling out beyond boundaries of the familiar or even of knowledge.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory…full of grace and truth.
Hang on. It’s a bumpy ride to the cross. Being the Light of the World means more than spreading light, but attracting attention, and critics of the Light. This is a journey sure to keep us on the edge of our chairs.