Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Light of the WORLD is an emphatic declaration of His global mission to all mankind. He also said, “WHOEVER follows me…will have the light of life.”
WHOEVER is a pronoun that means ANYONE and EVERYONE!
Notice Jesus did not say, ‘I am the light of Israel’ or ‘I am the light of only the lost sheep of Israel.’
Why then did Jesus say, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)
We need to ask who was Jesus speaking to? And why did He say that?
Let’s take a closer look. A Gentile (Canaanite) woman had come to Jesus and addressed Him as “Son of David”.
“Son of David” was a title of Messiah. As a non-Jew, a Gentile, has no right or claim upon the Jewish Messiah. The role of the Jewish Messiah was to seek and save the lost sheep of Israel. This was prophesied 500 years earlier by the Prophet Ezekiel.
“For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. ” (Ezekiel 34:11)
When Jesus came, He fulfilled it and declared, “I have come to seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
This was the mission of the Jewish Messiah. This was what Jesus was telling the Gentile woman. The Messiah was promised to the Jews only. You cannot pretend to be a Jew when you come to Him, if you’re a Gentile!
The woman must have understood. She drops the Messiah honorific, calling Him Lord instead. Jesus engages her and sees her tremendous faith and answers her request and heals her daughter.
Besides His role as the Jewish Messiah, He also came for another purpose; to fulfill His role as Savior of the world. This was prophesied by Isaiah in 700 BC.
“You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”Isaiah 49:6, NLT
Luke records for us:
“that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”Acts 26:23, NIV
When Jesus was invited by Samaritan non-Jews, who were despised by the Jews, not only did Jesus go with them to their village, He stayed with them for two days teaching them. Why would He do that if He only came for the Jews? Yes, as the Jewish Messiah, He came only for the Jews but as Light of the World, He came for the world!
What happened after the two days Jesus spent staying with the non-Jews and teaching them?
They (the Samaritans) said to the woman (the Samaritan woman who introduced them to Jesus), “We now believe not only because of your words; we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man truly is the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42)
The Apostle John wrote:
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.1 John 4:14, ESV
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.John 3:17
As you can see, Jesus not only had a specific mission to Israel but He also had a mission of redemption and salvation for the whole world.
It all began with God’s promise to Abraham way back in Genesis 22:18. “And in your seed shall ALL THE NATIONS of the earth be blessed…”
Who is that seed of Abraham? Jesus!
This was why Matthew saw it was absolutely crucial to open his gospel with the genealogy of Jesus. To show everyone that Jesus was the One through whom the whole world will be blessed!
“This is the record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham:” (Matthew 1:1)
“For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel.”
“The true light, which gives light to EVERYONE, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him…”John 1:9