Christ the Light: “I am the Light of the World.”
© C. O. Bishop, 2011 Revised 2021
John 1:4, John 8:12
The Gospel of John has one central theme: “The person and work of Jesus Christ; God in the flesh.” John makes no apology for presenting Jesus Christ as God. He is God! He makes no attempt to “prove” his existence nor does he try to “justify” his claims. He simply presents Him as He is and tells the narratives in such a way as to demonstrate the truth of those claims.
He began with Jesus Christ, as the Word of God. It’s an odd statement, but one supported throughout the Scriptures. He progressed to presenting him as God, specifically the Creator. Again, it turns out, this is supported throughout the Scriptures. He presents Him as the one source of life, and, ultimately as The life. It turns out that this, too, is supported by the Scriptures from Genesis, onward. Now he presents Him as The Light. John 1:4 “…in him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.” And Jesus confirms that claim, saying that He, Himself, is the “Light of the World.” (John 8:12)
So, let’s go back to the beginning of time and see whether the Scriptures also support this notion.
The Light at the Beginning of Time
Genesis 1:3 “…and God said let there be light, and there was light, and God saw that the light was good…” God created physical light, without a source other than Himself. The light was good: God said so. Then (Genesis 1:4) God separated the light from the darkness. Light is by its nature separate from darkness—in fact, darkness can only be defined as the relative absence of light. So evidently when God said “let there be light” there was light everywhere. It permeated the universe. Then, for God to separate the Light from the darkness, He must have limited the light to a discrete source or sources, so that shadows could exist. In terms of our solar system (which was not yet created) it meant that there was a single source of light in relation to which the world rotated on its axis, and, as the Scripture says, “…there was evening, and there was morning, the first day.” The sun was not yet created: God was the source of the light. He will again be the only source, after the end of time as we know it. Revelation 21:23 says “…the city will have no need of the Sun or Moon, as …the Lamb will be the light…”
The Light in the World, Today
The New Testament spells out this truth, in a variety of ways. 1st John 1:5 says “This is the message that we have heard of him and declare unto you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” In this instance it is not about the physical light so much as the moral and spiritual light, as the context goes on to talk about our response to the light, and how it affects our relationship to God.
Different creatures respond differently to physical light. Green plants thrive on it and will bend toward the prevailing light-source in order to maximize the amount of light received. In fact, virtually all physical life depends, ultimately, upon the physical light of the sun. Green plants are the only creatures capable of deriving energy for food production directly from the light. All other life depends ultimately upon green plants for food, whether as a primary or a secondary source. (Snakes, for example, don’t eat vegetables, but they swallow whole those animals that do.) The only exceptions seem to be some very small deep-sea creatures that live next to hot vents of water coming from the ocean floor, and somehow live on that energy source. And it is possible that even they are ultimately dependent upon the Sun. Mushrooms don’t like the sun, but they live on the carcasses of plant and animal life that do thrive in the light. We all live by the light, whether we admit it or not.
Animal life is somewhat divided in its response to physical light: Cockroaches and rats definitely prefer darkness. Bats and owls do, too, for different reasons.
J. Vernon McGee told how, as a young boy, his chores required him to go out to the barn in the darkness, to check on the livestock. He didn’t much like the experience, as many can understand. He carried a lantern with him to light his way, and to allay his fears of the deep shadow. When he was older the fears may have disappeared, but the memories remained. He told how there were two things that happened the moment he walked into the barn with the lantern: The rats ran for cover, fearing him and the light. The birds, roosting in the rafters, thought it was morning, and began to twitter and sing. What was the difference? Had he terrorized the rats at some time? Had he led a choir for the birds? No; of course not. The natures of the creatures were simply being revealed by their response to the light.
This is a good principle to recognize in life. The nature of the person will be revealed by their response to the light. Jesus said, (John 3:19-21) “This is the judgment, that light has come into the world, and the world loved darkness better than light because their deeds were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” The character of the world is revealed by its response to the light.
“I AM the Light of the World”
In John 8:12, Jesus said, “…I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.” You see, some flee from the light…some follow it. You have to determine what response you will give to the Light of the World. Most of you, if not all, have already responded to Him initially by placing your trust in Him as your Savior. But you still have an old nature—you still have that character within you that flees the light, and loves the darkness. There is a very good reason that bar-rooms are usually very dark places: the practices of those who frequent such places do not reflect a love of the light.
So, as believers, we are to recognize that, to begin with, (Colossians 1:12, 13) we have been made fit partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (that’s the team to which we now belong) and have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of the Son of God. This is an accomplished transaction—a done deal—nothing can be done to make it “happen more thoroughly”, neither can anything be done to undo it. That is simply where we now live! The next question, obviously, is “But how?”
How Shall We Then Live?
In light of this truth (that we have been moved from darkness into light,) what ought we to do? How ought we to live? Godgives us the answer through the apostle Paul: (Ephesians 5:6-14) he concludes, “but now are ye light in the Lord…walk as children of light”
Specifically, he begins, in Ephesians 5, to point out some of the differences that being saved has made, and should make. He says in verses three through six that the behavior of the unsaved is in keeping with their old nature—the only one they have. He lists several things that the natural men regularly practice, but which should be set aside by Christians.
- (coarse) Jesting
Paul points out the logic of the change, saying that people who practice such things have no part in the kingdom of Christ and of God. By the way, the use here of the word “kingdom” does not refer to the Millennial Kingdom, but simply the “dominion of God” as evidenced in the lives of the believers. We are not to take lightly our new position in Christ. The Church, proper, is not a kingdom, but a body, with a head, not a king. However, the Head of the Body of Christ is Christ, the King. We are collectively the “bride” of Christ—but our bridegroom is the King.
Paul goes on to say that we once behaved in similar fashion to the World, because we were of the world. We walked in darkness because we were of the darkness. Paul says, “…but now are ye light in the Lord…walk as children of light.” We are to behave like the children of light because we are the children of light. God is the light, and we are his offspring in Christ.
Now—what does that look like? How do we “walk in the light”. Peter was also given something to share with us regarding that question: (2nd Peter 2:19) “We have also a more sure word of prophecy whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place.” The Word of God (remember that Jesus is the Word of God) is still our light. We have been given the Written Word of God as a light by which to walk in this dark world. How long? Until the Living Word of God comes, and we see Him face to face.We are to apply the written Word of God to our lives in every area, learning to live in obedience to His Word, until He returns.
I carry a small flashlight, as a rule…but I only need it at night. Once the sun is up, I have no need of the little lamp. There is coming a day when you will no longer need your Bible, as Jesus will be literally, physically shining, and all of us will walk by his light. But He commands us to walk by his light now, as well, and to allow His light to spill over into other’s lives in such a way as to attract them, not repulse them. In Matthew 5:16, He said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”
1st John 1:7 “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” Philippians 2:15 says, “that ye may be blameless and harmless, the children of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”
Each individual person’s response will be partly dependent upon our use of that light:
- Some will reject the light in whatever form it appears.
- Some will be drawn to the light “as a general principle” but reject any portion of the light that specifically addresses their own sin, thus rejecting the light of the Gospel, proper: Light dispels darkness…if we will not allow that light to touch the darkness in our own hearts, then it cannot accomplish its primary function.
- Others are drawn to the light, initially, but may be driven away by the behavior of the one holding the light. All of us have known of Christians (or those claiming to be Christians) who live in such a way as to repulse all around them. Bear in mind that James says “the seed of righteousness is sown in peace of them who make peace.” (James 3:18)
- The cheerful, gentle, loving behavior of believers reflects the light and the Love of God and is attractive to the lost world. Jesus said (John 13:35) “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
There is coming a day when we will fully experience the light of God and bask in His presence: Revelation 21:23 says,“The city has no need for the sun or moon…the Lamb is its light.” But in the meantime, let’s learn to live as the children of light, and shine as beacons into the darkness of the world around us. Raging against the darkness will do no good. Only light conquers darkness. The smallest candle dispels darkness within its sphere of influence. Your light can either draw people to Christ or be obscured by your lifestyle, your actions and your words.
Please choose to be the light that God has chosen you to be, now, reflecting His light, not casting shadows of sin. Each of us has to consider what shadows we may be casting into the lives of those around us. Then we must confess those sins, and daily seek to “walk in the light as He is in the light.”
Lord Jesus, we know that, on our own, we cannot live in such a way as to please you, and to act as your ambassadors. Please overrule the sin ion our lives and fill us with the light of your presence, so as to make us a testimony of your Grace. Love the World through us and allow us to draw others to You.