Light of the World
A Christmas Eve Meditation
It is not at all surprising that John begins his Gospel with these multiple references to light.
7 Times in these opening 14 vss.
As the beginning of His Gospel parallels the Creation account in Genesis, so we are reminded that at the very beginning of all of God’s ways – His 1st act of creation was “Let there be light.”
In the symbol laden account of Creation we learn that in creating, God was first and foremost interested in bringing light or understanding – and that, in the highest – understanding of Himself.
Creation is the beginning of God’s glorious self-disclosure.
This is why Psalm 19 begins: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.”
God isn’t just creating as something to do with His spare time – He is crafting the ultimate blessing for the creatures He is about to make in His own image – For what higher blessing can any creature have than to have the capacity to perceive and then truly know the fountain and source of all things?
As Jesus prays in John 17: 3 “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
So it is in regeneration the first thing He does is bring light to the soul once more.
Light and understanding and His self-disclosure to souls bound in the darkness of sin – shut out from God Himself.
So God begins giving light. And this theme persists in Scripture.
In Ex. 10 – God separates the Egyptians from the Israelites by sending a darkness that could be felt – but there was light in the homes of God’s people.
In the Tabernacle and the Temple there is to be perpetual light burning.
In the Wilderness, God leads the Jews at night as a pillar of fire – light.
In Esther, when the machinations of Haman are completely overthrown, the text says: “The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor”
Ps. 27:1 begins: “The Lord is the light of my salvation”
And Isaiah’s prophecy of Christ’s incarnation declares: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. ”
We could cite dozens of places where this theme is visited over and over.
And so John tells us that this idea finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus.
And virtually closes his final revelation giving expression to it in Rev. 22:5 “And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”
So it is not a one-off kind of thing to read in this passage: 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
And here is a very great and wonderful thing to contemplate – That Jesus is the TRUE light, of which all the other “lights” even that of creation itself is but a picture.
And just as the sun gives light to everyone on the planet, So Christ Jesus “gives light to everyone.”
But exactly HOW does He enlighten everyone?
I think C. S. Lewis’ famous statement begins to unpack that some. You will recall he said: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
Jesus gives light to everyone – Because in Him, in His person and work we see:
- All that mankind was created as. All that mankind ought to be.
The light of purpose and meaning comes through understanding how we were created in His image, and for His pleasure.
- In His person and work we see: All that mankind has fallen from.
- We see: All that mankind needs to be saved from.
- All that mankind needs to be restored to.
- What such a salvation requires. The Cross.
- What fullness of God is revealed. 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
- What both judgement on sin AND the mercy and grace of God look like.
Truly, He is the Light of The World. For in Him we glimpse both the manifest glory of God, and the substance of all reality.
- In His resurrection, we catch a glimpse of the glory of the Kingdom to come, and that which He has prepared for all those who love His appearing.
Lastly, as we light these candles together, we are reminded that while Jesus is this light in Himself – He also enlists Believers as part and parcel of seeing to it that light goes out to everyman.
So He can tell the Disciples in Matthew 5:14–16 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
We share in this as:
- We are His City – the Place where He rules and reigns.
- In that we bless others because of how He has blessed us.
- In that we bless others in such a way, that through our testimony we do so, only BECAUSE we are in Christ – so that the Father is glorified.