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The Light of the World

How was Jesus the light of the world? How are Christians supposed to be lights in a dark world?

by Andrew Davis on March 23, 2021

“I am the light of the world.” - John 8:12  &  “You are the light of the world.” - Matthew 5:14

 God’s first words recorded in Scripture were, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3). Light is one of God’s most significant means of self-revelation, for light reveals His nature both in itself and when it reflects off elements of His creation into our eyes. John loved to use light to describe God, and in 1 John 1:5, he wrote “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” Thus, light in itself reveals God’s nature… pure, holy, radiant, and glorious. Yet light also is a fleet messenger serving the story the rest of creation has to tell of God’s nature. The immensity of outer space would not communicate to us as effectively were there not stars shining forth their light from so far away. The awesome power of the sea would not speak to us so movingly could we not see light dancing off its frothing breakers. The delicacy of a budding flower would be lost were there no light to bring its knowledge into our minds. Light communicates, for it brings the nature of God as revealed in His awe-inspiring creation into our mind, which is the seat of our worship.

Yet God most clearly communicated His perfect nature to us through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. As the author of Hebrews tells us, “In the past, God spoke to our forefathers at many times and in various ways. But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Heb. 1:1-3). Jesus Christ is to God what rays of light are to the sun… a perfect form of communication of the very essence of the sun. Jesus communicates to us the very nature of the Father. Therefore, when Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us,” Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been with you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8-9). To look at Jesus was to see everything the Father is… compassionate, holy, zealous, powerful, gentle, patient. His words and His actions, combined with His manner in everything, perfectly revealed the Father to all who saw Him. Thus, Jesus is the light of the world

"We have the same mission of revelation to the world that Jesus did… to live in the power of the Holy Spirit moment by moment is to reveal God’s very nature to those who live in darkness."

But in what sense are we the light of the world? In exactly the same sense, although not with the same perfection due to our sin. Jesus said, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5). For a short time, Jesus walked the earth and did the works of the Father where all could see Him. Now, He has ascended to the right hand of God and has left His disciples in the world to reveal God’s nature in this dark place. “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). We have the same mission of revelation to the world that Jesus did… to live in the power of the Holy Spirit moment by moment is to reveal God’s very nature to those who live in darkness. Now we are to “shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16). Our light does not originate with us, however, but is merely reflected from us from the face of the Father, much as the moon reflects the sun’s light. As we stay in the presence of the Father, our being will glow with the purity of a changed nature as Moses’ face glowed after spending time with God in prayer (Ex. 34:35). This close fellowship with the Father will lead to daily acts of service as His Spirit leads. These acts of obedience are the rays of light which we shine to those around us. The very radiance of our good deeds reflects God’s nature and causes others to praise our heavenly Father for His glory (Matt. 5:16). Let your light shine today!