From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Two, Day Two

The Name
According to Jewish tradition, one of the names for the Messiah is "Light." How fitting, then, that Jesus is called the "Light of the world." John's Gospel portrays Jesus as the light that vanquishes the darkness brought on by sin — a darkness that ends in death. Christ has opened the eyes of a sin-darkened world to the truth of the gospel. We who believe in him have moved from darkness to light, from death to life. When we pray to Jesus as the Light of the world, let us remember that we are calling on the One who was so determined to draw us into his light that he spent nine months in the darkness of his mother's womb in order to become one of us. Let us ask Jesus, our Light, to make us shine with his reflected glory.

Key Scripture
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


 Praying the Name

The people
walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned. . . .
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Isaiah 9:2; 60:2

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "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

Reflect On: John 8:12.

Praise God: For the brightness of his light.

Offer Thanks: That Christ has given you the light of life.

Confess: Any alliance with the darkness through sin.

Ask God: To help you walk in obedience and in the light.

Every night my six-year-old looks under her bed, checking for monsters. Even though Luci has never encountered anything more frightening than an occasional dust ball or tennis shoe, it seems a required bedtime ritual. Recently I introduced her to a device I invented in my childhood. I call it the Magic Bubble. After prayers and a good-night kiss, I walk around her bed waving my arms while describing the big, impenetrable bubble I am constructing around her. If she's lucky, I even add a little dance to the mix. Most nights Luci lies down with a smile before issuing the same last-minute orders: "I want music . . . door open . . . light on." So I crank up her music box and step quietly out, leaving the door open a crack to let light slip through from the hallway. Just a sliver of light puts her mind at rest.

I understand how my daughter feels. In the darkness our fears have a tendency to multiply, failings become exaggerated, challenges seem insurmountable. We need daylight to restore our perspective. But even the daylight holds its share of darkness. The prophet Isaiah speaks of a world covered in thick darkness. He is talking about the spiritual darkness brought on by sin. Sin, in fact, is pregnant with darkness. It gives birth to famine, war, genocide, drug addiction, child abuse, divorce, petty hatred, and even small-town gossip. Some of us have become so conditioned to the world's darkness that we've begun to call crooked things straight and good things bent. Because of sin and its attendant darkness, even the happiest life ends tragically, in a grave.

But Jesus came in order to recast our "unhappily ever after" endings, to put a stop to what had been a nonstop tragedy. He did this by confronting the darkest of our fears — by taking on death itself. Happily, as St. Paul says, death has been swallowed up in Christ's victory. Darkness has been extinguished by light. In his light we see light. But still we fear. We tremble before life's substantial challenges — difficult marriages, problems with children, personal weaknesses, illness, financial instability. There are times when we find ourselves walking into the darkness and crying out for the light. When that happens, we need to affirm the words of the psalmist who said to our powerful God:

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Psalm 139:11 - 12

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Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.