In him was life, and that life was the light of men.John 1:4
At this time of year people enjoy putting Christmas lights on their homes, or in trees or shrubs. The days are short and it gets dark early. The desire for light is natural. Life and light go together. Light is necessary for life to grow and blossom. If there is darkness and no light, living things will not flourish, but finally die. It should therefore not surprise us that the Bible links the words "light" and "darkness" with a number of very important concepts.
In his account of the gospel, the Apostle John testifies of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. "In him was life," writes John, "and that life was the light of men" (1:4). Notice how the Apostle links life and light together. He then goes on to describe our Saviour as "the true light."
What kind of light does Jesus give? It's not "the light of reason," or "the light of nature." He is the only source of true spiritual light and life. The statement about Jesus Christ as the light emphasizes his divinity and the effect of the Word that he proclaimed. Compare it, for example, to Psalm 36:9, "For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light." Those words applied to the LORD, the God of the covenant. But the Apostle John shows that such words also apply to our Saviour.
Light in the Darkness
Jesus Christ promises to give us light. He proclaimed concerning himself:
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.John 8:12
The world in which Jesus Christ was born was different than the world made in the beginning. It's a world that has been defiled by man's sin. It's a world in which there is much darkness. The effects of sin can be seen all around us and are also evident in us. Our sinful nature continues to produce bad fruit.
Without Jesus Christ people live in darkness. This darkness results in eternal damnation. But there is hope for all who take refuge in him. After all, he "gives light to every man" (John 1:9). This means that he gives salvation without distinction. It's not just for Jews. It's for people from every tribe and nation on earth. No repentant sinner will be turned away.
Salvation is for all who acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the promised Messiah. John writes in 1:12, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."
"Receiving" Jesus Christ refers to accepting that he is who he claims to be. This is how John explains what it means to believe in the name of Jesus Christ. Believing in the "name" of Jesus Christ involves believing all that is revealed about him as the incarnate Son of God. Consider his glory, his power and majesty. Consider the love that motivated him to be born of the virgin Mary and to live on earth as a human being. Think of his earthly ministry and his death on the cross to save us from the darkness of sin. Think about his resurrection and ascension into heaven. Rejoice in what he continues to do for our salvation.
There were Jews and also people of heathen background who saw the light. They acknowledged Jesus Christ as the Saviour. John is talking about them when he writes about "all who received him." Jesus was born as a Jew. His primary task was to reveal himself to the Jews as their Messiah. But John makes it clear that salvation is not only for Jews. It's also meant for people like us.
Jesus Christ is the light of the world. Embracing this truth involves more than simply understanding it with our minds. It's a matter of the heart. It leads to a lifelong commitment, a life of faith.
Our Saviour continues to be the source of life and light. As we look to him in faith, something remarkable happens. We "reflect the Lord's glory," and "are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18). There is a purpose for this. Think of how Jesus describes his followers:
You are the light of the world.Matthew 5:14
Those words remind us of our task. What are you going to do about it?