As I read through John’s Gospel, Chapter One ns preparation for my personal celebration of the birth of the Savior I am drawn to a familiar verse with new insights. I was sitting in a foreign nation preparing my heart for a day of ministry and looking forward to the coming season we are now entering. I was facing a day of teaching God’s Word and prophetic ministry to believers and leaders – and as I was spending some time with the Lord early in the morning before the other team members woke up the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. It has stayed with me since and I will try to share a bit of what He showed me. Maybe it will spark an insight or two for you as well.
We think of Jesus as being The Light of the world. And, He is. But what is it that shines? What is it that is the “light?” What causes Him to be the light? John’s Gopel states (1:4) “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” The focus in the first chapter is that Jesus who is the Light overcomes the spiritual darkness of the devil and his demons. But, let’s not miss what causes the Light to shine or what that external light is caused by – it is the very life of God in Jesus who is God. Jesus has within Him the very life (zoe) and nature of God as He is both perfect God and perfect man (the Incarnation – the basic Christmas message). This life flows from Him and touches others and is described as “light” because it can then be seen in His expressions of love and compassion and power. This is most obvious in His healing ministry when life flowed from Him and literally overcame the “oppression of the devil” (Acts 10:38). Life becoming light. But, it can actually be seen in all of His life and ministry. as well as in the Gospel message He preached and the fact that people delivered and set free from demons, sickness, religious bondage…
This “Life” was both physical life – as Jesus imparted this life to believers as His involvement as the agent of creation (God the Father planned the creation, Jesus created it…. John 1:3) but also refers to spiritual life that He imparts to those who believe in Him (as compared to spiritual death for those still in their sins – Romans 6:23) as well as eternal life which is a gift He gives to those who believe and which is defined in John 17:3 as a personal and intimate relationship with Him and the Father. This “life of God” was expressed by the living Word as He spoke words and became a “light” shining in the darkness.
So, when Jesus turns and speaks to His disciples and tells them that they are “a light in the world” and that they should not hide their light (Matthew 5:14) – He is referring to the fact that His followers should be allowing this spiritual life – Zoe – now in us (supernatural ability to walk with Him, hear His voice, and do what He did – John 10:10 and John 14:12) and eternal life (relationship with the supernatural God) to be seen regularly by those we come into contact with.
The first 14 verses of the Gospel of John were most likely a hymn of the early church. They remind us that Jesus is God’s Word (1:1), “word” being a Greek term that means a thought expressed. Jesus, then, is the human expression of God. He is light and flesh (1:4-5, 14). To see Jesus is to see God the Father, and to know Jesus personally is to experience God’s grace and truth. Then, as the light of the world (part of our calling as well) we are to witness publicly. The Gospel must be communicated by what we say and how we live. Just as Jesus became flesh and “dwelt among us,” so we are to “flesh out” the good news about Christ in our everyday world.
This must be remembered at this time of year and all-year round … and we must be intentional about allowing our light to shine out in the spiitual darkness that is working hard to engulf and swallow up our society and culture. True believers cannot afford to say or do nothing – we must let His light shine forth and His life inpact and influence those around us every day. A loittle easier at this time of the year – but a mandate we must obey every day regardless.