top of page

Lenten Meditation: The Light of the World

He almost walked right past the painting in the museum. But there was a small crowd standing there, talking. So he stopped to see and hear for himself what was happening. Later, he tried to figure it all out.

The painting was called “The Light of the World.” It showed a man, with a beard and long hair, in old-fashioned robes and sandals. In one hand he was holding a lantern; the other hand was on a house door as if to knock on it softly. The discussion seemed to center on several questions:

1. Who was the man outside the door?

2. There was no doorknob, handle, latch, etc. on the outside of the door; how could the man get into the house?

3. Why was he lightly knocking, not pushing or banging on the door?

4. What was he waiting for?

While the narrative is fictional, the painting is not. By William Holman Hunt, the painting has been described as the most famous of English religious pictures. Hunt said he wanted to represent the imagery of Revelation 3:20:

Here I am!

I stand at the door and knock.

If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.

Remember the old song (by Will L. Thompson):

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,

Calling for you and for me.

See, on the portals he’s waiting and watching,

Watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home.

You who are weary, come home.

Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling,

Calling, “O sinner, come home.”


Consider three Bible passages about the light:

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. Genesis 1:1-5 (NRSV).

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:1-5 (NRSV).

[Jesus said to his disciples:] You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (NRSV).

Remember the gospel/spiritual?

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine,

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine,

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine

ev’ry day, ev’ry day, ev’ry day.

So, who or what is the light of the world?


bottom of page