It is raining outside as I write the opening sentence of this article. It is Wednesday evening; nothing extraordinary has happened today within my particular orbit. I suppose that if I were to ask the young fellow across the road or the girl up the street, “Well, what happened today?” I would get an answer like … “Oh nuth’n much”. Strange, is it not, that all of us with sight have been privileged to “see” that which is ETERNAL. We have had actual contact with that which is INCORRUPTIBLE and at the same time perceived something that is entirely UNIQUE, and yet generally seem to be quite unimpressed? What is this strange thing? you ask. It is that form of energy that gives everything form, beauty and colour, without which these eyes would be comparatively useless, LIGHT.
In John 8; 12 the Lord Jesus utters seven one-syllable words. The longest has no more than five letters in our language and yet they reach out beyond the macrocosm of the wheeling galaxies. The full essence of these simple words can never be fully appreciated by the greatest mind on earth, for when He said, “I am the light of the world”, He invites us to launch our thinking out, out into the vast drowned depths of space and time, where LIGHT swims through a billion years from star to star. The vastness of it, the solitary grandeur of it is almost frightening, but that “simple” phrase points to the magnitude, the greatness of our beloved Lord.
Consider light in three aspects. The character of light and our perception of it; the components of light and our reflection of it; and the claims of light and our reaction to it.
The character of LIGHT is threefold, it is ETERNAL. Light was not created, for God is Light. When His mighty fiat went forth, Light … be,” forth from Himself sped the outshinings of His own glory and chased the darkness far. So the ETERNAL character of the Lord Jesus is seen in those words “I AM .. . the light …”
To the godly opened eye the LIGHT of the world came from above. “The dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death (Lk. 1:78-79). To the darkened, blinded eye of the unbeliever this LIGHT came UP. “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death LIGHT is sprung up” (Matt. 4:16). Just as the ancients thought that the sun came out of the earth in the morning and sank into the earth at night, so the darkened mind looked on the Lord Jesus as a man who began on earth and ended on earth. In our day we know that the sunrise is but a continuation of the journey of the sun, and it’s setting is but a passing beyond where we dwell. It’s light is not dimmed nor are its rays shortened. The flaming orb rolls on in its endless path, spreading its glories in realms beyond our vision. So the Lord, the LIGHT of the world, may not be within the range of our physical sight, yet, at the right hand of. the Majesty on high, the outshining of His glory lightens all that glorious place. LIGHT is UNIQUE: There is nothing like it, nothing to which it can be compared, (How could you describe it to a blind person?) So when the Lord Jesus said, “I am THE light of the world” He gave testimony to the fact that HE IS THE ONLY ONE OF HIS KIND, there is NO OTHER like Him, Absolute God and Perfect Man. The French Bible puts John 3:16 this way, “For God so loved the world that He gave His UNIQUE Son …”
LIGHT is INCORRUPTIBLE. This was also conveyed in those words, “I am the Light …” The light that passes through a dirty window does not gather up any of the dirt, but what passes through is as bright as it was before. Our blessed Lord touched the leper, took the corpse by the hand, rubbed shoulders with the profligate and the sinner, and such is His intrinsic purity nothing could defile Him. He is Holy, Harmless and Undefiled. He is THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.
The “COMPONENTS” of light, for want of a better word, though strictly speaking light is “composed” only of itself, however for our purposes, let us consider what makes up the “white” light that we “see”.
If we were to thrust a glass prism into a beam of sunlight, the spectrum that would appear, would range in colour from violet to red. So then, we find that “white” light is really composed of RED light, GREEN light and BLUE light. We have all seen those purest of colours in the familiar rainbow when the sunlight is broken up by tiny water droplets. How beautiful are the glories of Christ, the LIGHT of the world when seen through the water of the Word!
We see the pure RED that speaks of His perfect sacrifice, and for Him to be the LIGHT of the world meant the pouring out of His precious ruby blood to put away our sin. How wonderful to know that we shall for ever bask in the eternal glow of this LIGHT, for in that place of pure delight it is the LAMB that is the LIGHT thereof (Rev. 21;23).
The question rises now, do I reflect this light down here? The red light of sacrifice? Does my Christian life COST me anything in the yielding of my personal will, my time, my few possessions myself?
The GREEN LIGHT shines forth and speaks of ABUNDANT LIFE, and for the Lord to be able to say, “I am the light of the world,” it meant the bringing of this kind of life within the reach of the earth-dwellers. We read about it in John 14, “In Him was LIFE and the LIFE was the LIGHT of men”. In some small degree do I reflect THIS light? Am I known as one who possesses this everlasting life, the very life of Christ Himself, fresh, verdant, fragrant and fruitful?
The BLUE LIGHT is the light of the Heavens, and it draws our gaze away from the haze of earth to behold the things of Infinity and Eternity. “I am the light of the world” reveals the Deity of our blessed Lord, the Son of God, or as we read it in the Hebrew Epistle, “His Son … Whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds. Who being the (SHINING FORTH) of His glory and the express image of His Person”. Here indeed is the BLUE light, and just as the light that comes from the sun enables us to know the nature and character of the sun, so the Lord Jesus, the Light of the world reveals the very nature and character of God.
This light has a claim upon us, collectively as a Church, for the Lord has commanded us saying “I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldst be for salvation unto the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47). It has a claim upon us individually as Christians, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Note that the ministry of light is a silent ministry. The injunction is not, “Hear your good words” but “SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS”. Once the unsaved have seen your good works (and your good WORKMANSHIP in the office or plant) then will your good words have some power behind them. The unsaved too have a responsibility to the light. In John 3:19 it is recorded, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil”.
“I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.” What magnitude! What infinity! What glory! These are bound up in that seemingly simple statement. When we think of the light of our sun with its vast circumference emitting incredible “volumes” of light, then think of this tiny speck of stellar dust we call the earth, and consider how miscroscopic in comparison are the few rays of light that reach us here, and of those, how few you and I perceive. Does it not make us think of the infinitude, the boundlessness of our wonderful Lord Jesus, and humbles us when we consider how little, how little, we know of Him, how tiny are our grandest thoughts of Him, and yet He condescends from His full-orbed glory to lighten our darkness, to shine upon the way we take, and at the last to lift us into the full blaze of His presence forevermore.