In John 12:44-46, Jesus said, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”
It will be helpful to view 12:44-45 as parallel statements of the same thought:
“a man believes in me, he…believe[s]…in the one who sent me”
“he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me”
We are able to draw four obvious conclusions here. First, “a man” is parallel to “he.” Second, “believing in” Jesus is synonymous with “looking at” him. Third, “believing in” the Father is the same as “seeing” the Father. Fourth, “the one who sent me” in both verses refers to the Father.
With those parallel ideas in mind, let’s turn our attention to the verse that is the reason for this blog’s title: v. 46.
The first phrase of v. 46, “I have come into the world as a light,” isn’t the first occurrence of such an idea. Previously, John 1:5, 9; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5 have advocated Jesus as the Light of the world.
While one might offer several ideas of what it means for Jesus to be the Light of the world, here in 12:46 Jesus gives us perhaps the primary reason for his claim to be Light: “so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”
Now let’s view some phrases in v. 46 in parallel form with vv. 44-45:
“believes in me, he…believe[s]…in the one who sent me”
“looks at me, he sees the one who sent me”
“no one who believes in me should stay in darkness”
Notice that, in vv. 45-46, “seeing the one who sent me” (the Father) is parallel to not “staying in darkness.” One might summarize in the parallels this way:
Believing in the Father=Seeing the Father=Not Staying in Darkness.
Just as light illuminates that on which it shines, Jesus as the Light of the world came to show us the Father. Yes, his light exposes the deeds of darkness (3:19-20). Yes, his light shows the way of salvation (8:12).
BUT, if Jesus did not also faithfully represent and show us the Father, the tragedy of 3:19-20 and the promise of 8:12 have no ultimate meaning. It’s wrong for people to love the darkness because such a sinful love is tantamount to rejecting the Father. And people who follow Jesus will have the light of life because Jesus is the Way to life in the Father (14:6).
Seeing John 12:44-46 in parallel form also shows what it means for people to remain in darkness. If believing in Jesus means to also believe in the Father (12:44), and if looking at Jesus also means to see the Father, then “staying in the darkness” would mean not seeing/believing in the Father.
Essentially, what sinners need is to believe in and see the Father! But our sinful minds and hearts cannot perceive who the Father is. As the Light of the world, Jesus shows us the Father (14:9-10) and is the Way to the Father (14:6). Believing in the Father happens when we believe in Jesus. Seeing the Father happens when we look to Jesus in faith. The reason people who believe in Jesus don’t remain in darkness is because they now believe in and see the Father–and not knowing the Father is the plight of being in the dark.
Praise be to the Father who sent his Son as the Light of perfect revelation.