The Naval Institute’s magazine carried the story of a battleship captain who was concerned about rough seas and fog when, quite suddenly, a bright light appeared on the horizon. The captain immediately had the signalman send the message, “Change course immediately!” But back came the reply, “It is you who must change course!” Irritated that a battleship should give way to a lesser vessel, the captain ordered that the message be sent, “I am a battleship!” And back came the reply, “I am the lighthouse!” The captain changed course.
Long ago Jesus said simply, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Many an individual cruising through life as a battleship, expecting others to get out of his way, has encountered the light, Jesus Christ, and seeing that the vessel of their life was headed towards the rocks, changed course and direction. Are you one of them? Wise is the person who recognizes the message, “I am the lighthouse.”
Surprising as it may be to you, Paul says that blindness, like a heavy fog, keeps the unregenerated person from seeing clearly who Jesus Christ really is, and that darkness keeps them blindly serving a god who can never satisfy. Here’s how he put it: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…. For God, who said, “‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4,6).
The direction coming from the lighthouse always takes precedence over anything else, right? In relationship, then, to Jesus, the issue is quite simple. Was He really the light that He claimed to be? Or was He simply one of several lights, any one of which can keep the vessel of your life off the rocks?
Be very clear, Jesus never claimed to be one of several lights. In a simple, straightforward manner, He said, “I am that light.” Or, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The men and women of the first century—people who heard and saw Him—were absolutely convinced. They were convinced, even to their death, that the record stood: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, [and] that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
If this is so, as Scripture and history affirm, then to ignore what He says about life and death would be as foolish as a ship captain’s refusal to turn when the signal comes back, “I am the lighthouse.”
May I ask you, friend, have you encountered the Light which cannot be dimmed by the darkness of the world or even the darkness of our hearts? Have you experienced what John wrote about, saying, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4)? Lighthouses around the world today are few and far between. They have been replaced by satellite technology and electronic devices that let navigators know where the rocks and the other vessels are; nonetheless, the picture of the lighthouse with its beam piercing the darkness is still an image that brings comfort and help. Some things never change. The light that Jesus Christ brought into the world is one of them. There is light in a dark world, and that light makes the difference. Don’t settle for anything short of “the true light that gives light to every man…” (John 1:9).
Resource reading: John 1:1-14