Art: “Light of the World,” by William Holman Hunt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 

Available online at:,_William_Homan_-_The_Light_of_the_World_-_1853-54.jpg 

Written by Sherry E. Hietpas, Associate Pastor of Andrew Chapel United Methodist Church, Vienna, VA 

“Again Jesus said to them, saying, ‘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 
painting, jesus with a lantern
 “Light of the World,” by William Holman Hunt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 
Available online at:,_William_Homan_-_The_Light_of_the_World_-_1853-54.jpg
“Light of the World,” by William Holman Hunt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

When I was a little girl, I remember a children’s Bible song about Jesus knocking at the door and waiting for someone to open so he could come in. The song is based on Revelation 3:20 and it came to mind when I first looked at this piece by Hunt. As children we learn some of the foundational messages of our faith through song. “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Of course, the Jesus who loves us would stand at the door knocking until we answered. As adults we tend to grow more deeply in our faith with a bit more nuance.  

In John 8:12, Jesus offers one of his Christological statements as he proclaims to the Pharisees, “I AM the Light of the world.” When God created the earth, God first spoke forth “Let there be light.” (Genesis 1:3) Light was necessary to bring order to the chaos. Light was necessary for life to be brought forth. The writer of John’s Gospel is very specific as he continues to build upon the framework that Jesus is more than an eccentric rabbi or knowledgeable prophet, he is in fact the Son of God. We can be grateful for this framework because it gives us a much wider understanding of the Triune nature of God. Hunt’s work further calls us to reflect on what Jesus meant when he called himself the Light of the world.  

Most young children are the first to admit they don’t like the dark. They aren’t ashamed to admit that they are scared and ask the nearest adult to turn on the light. The truth is, while many adults can move past fear of darkness, many would admit that they don’t like it all that much either.  Jesus offers us the opportunity to live in the light. We don’t have to fear the darkness, because Jesus so graciously offers himself to us out of deep and persistent love for us. In the busyness of our adult lives, it can be easy to look past some of the foundational truths we learned about God as children. We often complicate things – forgetting some of the simple truths we know to be true. During this Lenten journey, may we reconnect with the basics of what we know: Jesus loves us. Jesus wants to be in relationship with us. And Jesus offers us life, filled with hope, love, and light. 

Prayer: Holy God, help us to remember who we are in Christ. During this season, draw us into your light. May it fill us with hope and renew our strength to follow where you lead. May your word be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Spirit, help us to remember that we are deeply loved as children of God. AMEN. 

Find previous “Picturing God” entries here: