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Lectio Divina: “light”

Lectio Divina: “light”

Gospel reading: John 12.44-end

Then Jesus cried aloud: ‘Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.’


‘Light’ has no article, so it is not ‘the light’ or ‘a light’ but simply ‘light’. (This is a translation choice by the NRSV, as the lack of an article Greek also leaves the door open for the indefinite article, ‘a light’.)

And Jesus comes ‘as light’. The simile that Jesus uses implies that his life, actions and person can be compared to light. But he has not come in the substance of light itself. Moreover, he has come ‘into’ the world, that is from outside or beyond the world.

Jesus is beyond every light, every source of light, beyond the incandescence of a candle, or the fluorescence of a CFC light bulb, beyond the bioluminescence of a glow worm or algae in an ocean wave, or the iridescence of a kingfisher’s wing, beyond an exploding supernova or the fusion at the core of the sun that powers life on earth. He is beyond even electromagnetic radiation, beyond every photon.

He is the ultimate source, the ground, the substance, existence, quality, meaning of light, that makes light ‘light’ and gives it its particular [or wave-like – to indulge in a physics joke] ‘light-ness’. He is the creator and sustainer, without whom light would not exist and subsist.

So I rest in awe and wonder at this thing that I cannot grasp, understand, get a handle on.

Much like the darkness can’t grasp it, with reference to John 1. But there is only the possibility of darkness because of the existence of light and therefore the possibility of the absence of light. Darkness itself has no substance. So abiding in the light-that-is-Jesus means becoming more real, more substantial, being transformed into God’s likeness and having more of God’s substance.


Since April 2020, I have been jointly hosting a shared Lectio Divina group on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. These are my reflections only, during the prayer session and as I wrote them up. Please see my separate commentary and leaflet for more information about shared Lectio.