Light to the World
Scripture: John 1:6–13
Light to the World – John 1:6–13
PRAY & INTRO: Our scripture reading today came from the opening words of the Gospel According to John (vv. 1-5).
John’s Gospel is interesting because it has some of the simplest Greek vocabulary and syntax in the NT, but also bears some of the deepest and richest theological truths concerning the first advent and mission of the Christ, the Son of God. And John seems to have written with awareness of the other synoptic Gospels already circulating, thus intentionally supplementing and complementing them, with a particular emphasis on the spiritual significance of Christ’s coming and his ministry. So John highlights particular signs and statements from Jesus (his miracles and teaching) that substantiate the true meaning and purpose of his coming and his ministry, and of his death and resurrection.
John’s themes (many of which are introduced in this opening prologue of 18 verses) are intricately woven together in a way that becomes difficult to miss once your awareness and sensitivity to it has been kindled. My hope is that our journey today will ignite a desire in you to look even more closely, not for merely intellectual stimulation, but that you will be set ablaze in worship—both praise of Jesus and obedience to him.
Today I’d like to draw your attention to a metaphor from John’s prologue, that Jesus is the true light of God’s salvation to the world. As John sets out to prove that Jesus reveals God and is God, that he gives spiritual sight, gives spiritual life, I want us to be asking…
What does it mean that Jesus is the light of God to the world?
What evidence is there to substantiate this claim?
What should be our response to Jesus as the proven light?
John 1:6–13 ESV
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
What does it mean that Jesus is the true light of God to everyone?
John 1:9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
Consider the characteristic importance of the metaphor itself.
Meditate on the metaphor.
Light reveals and light exposes. - revealing truth (knowledge of God, shows his very presence), exposing ignorance, wickedness and falsehood
Light is contrasted with darkness. - light represents the moral holiness and purity of God; darkness represents the waywardness and blindness of man
Light gives sight. - Without God’s own light, we grope in the darkness of our sin without hope. We walk in the night and stumble because we cannot see (Jn 11:10).
So light is an apt metaphor for some of the key things John introduces in this prologue about Jesus:
Jesus reveals God.
John 1:14 ESV
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:18 ESV
18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Jesus is the truth of God revealed.
God is the source of spiritual life and light—Jesus is the one-of-a-kind Son of the Father who is himself God and reveals God.
Jesus is God’s gracious means of salvation.
John 1:16 ESV
16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
Light is an expression of grace because God has not left us in darkness. Without Jesus, we are without hope. But the revelation of God’s light is an immeasurable mercy/grace from God.
By this inbreaking of light God offers salvation:
John 1:12–13 ESV
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
So this is a spiritual birth to become God’s children, and it is a result of God’s own gracious will.
Jesus is more complete revelation.
Jesus is in the stream of God’s progressive revelation to and through Israel, fulfilling promises God had made concerning salvation through a Messiah, God’s anointed one. And he is further, more complete revelation.
John 1:17 ESV
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
The law exposes our sin, and Jesus provides God’s means of salvation by his own righteousness.
Summarizing, light is a metaphor for God revealing himself through Jesus Christ as the means of salvation.
What evidence is there to substantiate this claim?
The Apostle John launches straight into it.
John the Forerunner pointed to Jesus.
(as the Messiah)
John was sent from God to prepare for and bear witness to the light: See vv. 6-8.
John would confess openly that he was not the Christ (Jn 1:20) but instead bore witness to God’s seal upon Jesus as his anointed one (Jn 1:32-34). Now knowing that the Christ was Jesus, John would declare of him, “Behold, the Lamb of God” (Jn 1:29), and this is the one of whom I said that I’m not worthy not even worthy to untie his sandals, and I baptize with water, but he will baptize with the Holy Spirit. - So instead of elevating himself, John pointed to Jesus and said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).
Jesus would do things and say things unlike anyone else.
Now this is where we will run out of space and time to trace all of the examples that the Apostle John gives of the signs and statements of Jesus.
Jesus turned water into wine in Cana of Galilee. In Jerusalem, at the Passover, Jesus cleared the temple of the moneychangers, and when asked,
John 2:18–22 ESV
18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
Jesus would also tell Nicodemus (a ruling Pharisee) that neither he nor anyone could see the kingdom of God unless he be born again of the Spirit, and that eternal life would be granted to those who look upon the Son of Man lifted up and believe in him for salvation. (Jn 3) Who can say such things?
Jesus would declare to a Samaritan woman that he had authority and power to give her living water (meaning salvation, spiritual life by the Spirit of God). And Jesus would heal an official’s son of life-threatening illness without ever traveling over to the town where he was. (Jn 4) Who can do such things?
Jesus would heal a man, on the Sabbath no less, who had been an invalid for 38 years. (Jn 5) And because of this, the Jews (the religious leaders) began persecuting and before long seeking to kill Jesus because he was not only healing on the Sabbath, but he would say things like, “My Father is working until now, and I am working, … calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” (Jn 5:16-18)
Jesus continued: Jn 5:21
John 5:21 ESV
21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.
John 5:24 ESV
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
And then Jesus says to them that God bore witness about him at this baptism, that the Scriptures testify about him, that John testified about him, and that the works he is doing testify more brightly than the testimony of John. (Jn 5:30-47)
John 5:35–36 ESV
35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.
John (the Apostle) continues with his evidence that Jesus is the true light. Jesus feeds thousands of people (more 5,000) by multiplying 5 barley loaves and two fish, and the next day tells the crowds who want him to keep repeating that miracle:
John 6:35 ESV
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
John 6:33 ESV
33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Notice that the miracles John is pointing out are tied directly to the things Jesus is saying about himself.
Just so, when Jesus travels up to Jerusalem again for the Feast of Booths that year (Jn 7), there is a great deal of discussion and division over whether or not Jesus could be the Christ. And in that context of their confusion…
John 8:12 ESV
12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
And the emphasis of the section (in ch. 8) is that Jesus bears witness to the truth and is himself the truth sent from God. Acknowledging the truth would set them free from slavery to sin, but instead they ignore the very truth before their eyes. They prove their blindness because they will not listen to the truth Jesus presents and represents. So they are not true children of Abraham, not children of God.
(I tell you the truth) Before Abraham was, I am. (Jn 8:58)
The truth of chapter 8 is proven in chapter 9, when Jesus gives sight to a man born blind, and there’s a great commotion among the Pharisees who do not want to believe this really happened. They question the man, they question his parents, they question the man again. Although they want to accuse Jesus of being a sinner, they are stumped and angry with the formerly blind man’s response:
John 9:32–33 ESV
32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
The one who was being given spiritual sight had understanding, but the Pharisees rejected Jesus in their blindness.
But Jesus would continue in John 10:
I am the door of the sheep. (Jn 10:7) - gate/entrance: the only means of access to God
I am the good shepherd. (Jn 10:14-16) (who lays down his life for his sheep… authority to lay it down and take it up again) - Those who refuse to listen to his voice prove that they are not sheep of his fold.
Shortly after, when Lazarus had died, Jesus said to Martha: I am the resurrection and the life. (Jn 11:25) - whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live - Jesus then raises Lazarus (who had been dead for four days).
From chapter 11 into 12 there is an emphasis on the plot to kill Jesus, and preparation for his burial by Mary anointing Jesus, and his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and Jesus predicting his death, and an emphasis on the unbelief of the people, their blindness to the plain evidence before them.
Even still, Jesus made this appeal to all who would listen:
John 12:44–46 ESV
44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
What more clear evidence is there, even than all that he has already said and done?
Jesus would die and rise again.
Jesus died and rose again.
In the context of his trial and crucifixion (chs. 18-19), Jesus would say to Pilate:
John 18:37 ESV
37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
Jesus would prove all of this because he would physically die for sin, be buried, and physically rise again (resurrection and appearances, chs. 20-21).
John and the other Apostles would bear witness.
When Jesus was crucified: John 19:35
John 19:35 ESV
35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe.
When Jesus was resurrected: Jn 21:24
John 21:24 ESV
24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.
And John says plainly the purpose of writing his Gospel:
John 20:30–31 ESV
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
And thus that is the final point for our application this morning:
What should be our response to Jesus as the proven light?
Are You Alive? Are You Born Again (Jn 1:13)? -The one who created you, giving you physical life (Jn 1:3-4), is the one who is himself salvation, is the light that overcomes our darkness (Jn 1:5), is he who gives spiritual life to the one who believes (Jn 20:31).
Come awake and…
Worship the Lord.
Listen to the ultimate response of the blind man who received his sight:
John 9:35–38 ESV
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
Thomas who needed personal evidence of the risen Christ:
John 20:28–29 ESV
28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
That last part applies to everyone reading John’s Gospel; it applies to us.
With gratitude and wonder, worship the Lord. And worship bears itself out in more than just praise, it bears itself out in obedience.
Warning: Wake up while there is still time.
He is a light that cannot be extinguished, only ignored. - Do you really want to remain in darkness?
There is a repeated theme in the John is that judgment is also given to Jesus, and that ignoring the light seals that judgment, even though the judgment itself doesn’t come until Jesus returns at his second advent to judge the world.
Just as Christ’s first coming was of a limited duration, so your present opportunity to respond is limited. When night falls, then everyone will be judged according to their response to the light.
John 3:36 ESV
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Do not run from the light; run to the light. (Jn 6:37 Jesus will not cast out the one who comes to him. You can even be assured that such was the Father’s will.)
John 12:35–36 ESV
35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.
So also, we who are in Christ must…
Walk in the Light.
Walking in the light—following Jesus, in obedience to his character and command—is our assurance that we are his. (John writes about this in 1 John - 1 Jn 1:5-10)
Humble service for the good of others - which Jesus demonstrated by him washing their feet
As I have loved you, so you should love one another (Jn 13:34); greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (Jn 15:13) - which Jesus displayed to the point of death on cross… to save them from their sins
Abide in him because apart of him we can do nothing; he is the vine, we are the branches. (There is a backdrop of Judas’s betrayal, because he is not of the light and does not walk in the light.)
Reemphasis on loving him by keeping his commandments, and comfort that when he goes he will give them the Helper, the Holy Spirit. (And there is a backdrop of Peter’s impending denial because he does not depend on Jesus to remain true to him, but on his own strength, and such a display of weakness without the Spirit’s presence.)
Finally, the high priestly prayer reminds us that we are to be…Set apart to him and Sent by him
John 17:15–18 ESV
15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
(see also Jn 20:21)
So finally, more on being his sent ones…
Witness to the Light.
While the light was among them, the light was witness unto himself. Now Jesus has ascended to heaven, and has given his true children the gift of the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit, so that we may testify to the light. - We must be as planets that orbit the sun, who is Jesus, and we are therefore transformed by his light and reflect his light for others who remain in the shadow of darkness.
Like Philip to Nathanael and the woman at the well to her Samaritan townspeople, we should be overwhelmed with Jesus and telling others to “come and see.” Open the Bible with people and tell them to come and see for themselves this light of God who can save them.
Like John the B and John the Apostle, testify about the light. Tell others that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away sin, that he is indeed the Messiah, not just of Israel but of the whole world. Tell others what the Bible says about Jesus: that these things are written so that they may believe that Jesus is the Son of God and by believing they may have life in his name.
Let me ask you an obvious (but nonetheless essential) question: Do John & John strike you as just minding their own business, or are they directly and deliberately meddling in people’s lives to point them to God? Were Peter and Paul content to just keep to themselves and go about their daily lives, or did they give their lives to bear witness to the grace and truth of God made known in Jesus Christ?
He must increase, and we must decrease. (Jn 3:30)
Is such a drudgery or a joy? - See John 3:29 into 30 (increase/decrease)
John 3:29 ESV
29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.
May you be filled with joy in God because the light of Jesus has come, and has given you sight, transforming your darkness by his light. And may you experience the assurance of the truth that you are God’s children by the transformation in your lives and by testifying to others about this light.
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