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.”
Jesus constantly referred beyond himself: “whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.” Light does that; it is invisible in itself, but it makes everything else visible.
But “the one who sent me,” the Father, is also invisible! – the Father who “lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:14-16). Clearly, light is just a metaphor for God. It is a particularly good one: in fact the word ‘divinity’ comes, they tell us, from a Sanskrit root meaning ‘to shine’. But it is still just a metaphor.
St Augustine wrote a very clear paragraph about it. “Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your [God’s] guidance the innermost places of my being; but only because You had become my helper was I able to do so. I entered, then, and with the vision of my spirit, such as it was, I saw the changeless light far above my spiritual ken and transcending my mind: not this common light which every carnal eye can see, nor any light of the same order; but greater, as though this common light were shining much more powerfully, far more brightly, and so extensively as to fill the universe. The light I saw was not the common light at all, but something different, utterly different, from all those things. Nor was it higher than my mind in the sense that oil floats on water or the sky is above the earth; it was exalted because this very light made me, and I was below it because by it I was made. Anyone who knows truth knows this light.”
This light is now our birthright. Still darkness clings to us, or rather we cling to it. We are not imprisoned; we imprison ourselves. Milton wrote somewhere about being one’s own dungeon. Like creatures kept too long in the dark, we are afraid of the light and of the open spaces. We cannot be forced out, because the dungeon is ourselves – we would bring it with us. But we are invited and charmed and coaxed out by the one who called himself “the light of the world.”