When I was in high school, I went with my Boy Scout troop to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, NM over the summer on a two-week backpacking trip. Along the way, we stopped and did a lot of extra activities (panning for gold, burro racing, blacksmithing, etc.) but, the most memorable activity was visiting an abandoned gold mine. As you can imagine, it was HOT in New Mexico in July and as our guide led us further into the mountain, we left the blazing 105-degree heat and entered into a 52-degree cold, dark cave. If felt INCREDIBLE.
After 10 minutes of walking, we finally reached the back of the cave and the guide turned off all of the lights! It was so dark that you could hold your hand up in front of your face and not be able to see it. Then, he told us that we were standing on a platform that covered a shaft that went 200 feet straight down! After a few minutes, they turned the lights back on. We were able to find our bearings and were so thankful for the light that broke into the darkness of the cave.
When the Bible talks about people trying to live life apart from God, they refer to them as “spiritually blind.” They can’t see the spiritual reality that surrounds them and so they feel around in the darkness trying to make sense of their world. They are like me in that dark mineshaft- lost and unable to get their bearings on their own. This is what it is like to walk around in sin, apart from God and the Holy Spirit. Thankfully, God did not leave His people in this type of darkness (alone and lost). The prophet Isaiah wrote, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” In the Gospel of John, Jesus linked himself with the words of Isaiah: “Again Jesus spoke to them saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
C.S. Lewis famously wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” Christ, and His Word, is like the spiritual flashlight to a dark and fallen world that helps us see the world as it REALLY is. But, as we live in this world, there is an important phrase in this verse that needs to be highlighted and that phrase is, “Whoever follows me…” This phrase is important because it tells us that Jesus walks into the darkness AHEAD of his people, even into the dark and scary places. He shines His light into the darkness and because of Him we can see everything else more clearly. The simple call is to follow Jesus and to trust Him…even when life gets scary.
– Rev. Dave Latham is the pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church.