In the first two posts in this ‘Light in the darkness’ series we considered some of the prophetic announcements which foretold the arrival of Jesus. In this third instalment, we look at how the apostle John describes the Light and how he links it to Life itself.
Light and Life
(John 1:1-13) Simon Clay
‘In the beginning…’ are the words which open the Bible. God’s first action is to call physical light into being with the dramatic command, ‘Let there be light!’ (Genesis 1:3). Without this light, darkness would continue to dominate. Without this creation of light there could be no other life.
John’s gospel opens with the same three words, ‘In the beginning…’ as he produces a flashback to creation, indicating that at the beginning of his story, too, light and life must emerge. The light John goes on to describe is Jesus, the Word of God, who is both Light and Life.
The Word is Life and Light
John’s opening description of Jesus is one of the greatest ever penned.
Read the passage again, slowly. Let the words sink in.
Jesus is the Word who was with God in the beginning and was God. He was involved in the acts of creation and everything was made through Him (vv1-3). In this Word was life, and this life was the Light of men (v4). The physical light created on page one of the Bible is a forerunner of the true Light. The physical, created light into which mankind was born points towards a spiritual light which will shine in the darkness and bring true light to mankind.
John’s introduction continues as he explains that John the Baptiser (who we read about last time ) ‘came as a witness to testify concerning that light…He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light’ (vv6-8). The true light was coming into the world (v9). The source of life and light was coming to ‘give light to everyone’. John the Baptiser’s ministry aimed to rekindle the hope of Isaiah’s prophecy which had been clung onto by God’s people for centuries. But he didn’t just repeat an old hope; he announced the arrival of the light.
This moment in history should have been an unfettered celebration of God’s grace as His word is fulfilled. But instead this passage carries an undercurrent of tragedy:
– The Light has shone in the darkness … but the darkness has not understood it (v5).
– The Light has come into the world He created … but the world did not recognise its own Creator (vv9,10).
– The Light came to His own … but His own did not receive Him (v11).
The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us (v14). Jesus arrived on earth to save and redeem. He was born to reconcile us to God. The Word, the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth was misunderstood, unrecognised and rejected.
And yet, in the grand sweep of the promises of God this was not unanticipated. The hope remained. There was still a plan that all – yes, ALL – who do receive Him are given the right to become children of God (v12).
The plan which was revealed at that first Christmas is that the Light will shine in the darkness and bring new Life for mankind.
John’s magnificent description of Jesus describes the response of the majority to the arrival of the Light of the world as being negative. Most didn’t understand or recognise or receive Jesus.
Think about your friends, family and colleagues. How have they responded to the Light? For those who are yet to respond positively to Jesus pray for God to shine into their darkness and pray for opportunities this Advent for God to use you to witness to the Light.
Song: Let there be light
XplosionTV Bitesize: a video for children and the young at heart
A craft activity is available for the whole blog series. Please download the star instructions