When I read through the book of John as a whole, the word “light” jumped off the page time and again. Over and over throughout the book, light is referenced.
John 1:4-5 says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” This immediately brought to mind Isaiah 9:2: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.”
Just as there are several references to light in John, there are also several references to light in Isaiah. The prophet repeatedly spoke of the Light that was to come–the light of the sun that will equal the light of seven days when the Lord binds up the brokenness of his people and heals their wounds (30:26), a light for the nations (42:6), the Lord promises to turn darkness into light (42:16), his justice will be a light for the peoples (51:4), and the glory of the Lord will arise on the darkness and draw all nations (60:1-3). These are only some of Isaiah’s light references. John surely had these in mind when he also kept using language of light.
Jesus is the Light of the World. He is a piercing, agonizing, unbearable light to those who love the darkness. But He is the light of life and freedom and glory to those who are called by His name.
Think about the light as we experience it:
Light is safety and security to those who are afraid of the dark. You have to brave a dark, creepy, or unknown room? What do you do first? Turn on a light.
Light brings healing and wholeness to that which festers in darkness. Have a private hurt from long ago that just won’t leave you alone, or a secret sin that continues to plague you no matter how hard you try to stop? Tell someone. Get it into the light. Healing and wholeness and freedom will follow.
Light brings clarity to that which has been shadowed. Have you ever been outside wearing sunglasses on a bright sunny day? You get accustomed to seeing everything through your darkened lenses and it can start to seem real. At the pool the other day, that was the case for me. Suddenly, one of my kids said, “Wow! It’s going to storm!” I peeked over my sunglasses and realized that what had looked like normal cloud cover through my lens was actually a very dark, menacing storm. I gathered my kiddos and we made it to the van and out of the parking lot just before the wind picked up and the rain began to fall. My view was distorted and I needed light to clarify. This is true when we are influenced by false teaching or wrong thinking, or just confused on a particular issue. We need the light of truth to bring correct understanding.
On the flip side, in some situations, light is not a positive thing.
Light brings terror to that which feels secure in darkness. Think of an exterminator shining his flashlight in a dark corner: the bugs scurry and flee to get away from that light. That’s why the term exposé has a negative connotation to it. This term is usually used to refer to some sort of wrongdoing that has been covered up and is now exposed, or brought to light, and the culprits are almost always scurrying around frantically to flee or cover their tracks. That which loves darkness is terrified of the light.
Light also brings agony to that which is cursed. The most practical picture I can think of here is a migraine. I had always heard of migraines, seen my dad suffer with them and my husband on a few occasions, but until the past year or so had never experienced one myself. Then one day I had a headache that built and built until the light of even a dim room was too painful for my eyes brought tears. I craved the darkness because the light was excruciating. Well, what are migraines besides evidence of the curse of sin? Anything embodiment of the curse, whether that’s a migraine or some form of evil sin, will experience agony in the light.
And finally, light is dazzling and overwhelming for those who are accustomed to darkness or shadow. When we have been in a dark building, or even a lighted building, and walk outside into the true light of a sunny day, we instinctively squint or put our hand up or put our sunglasses on. We aren’t used to such brightness. The good news here is that we can slowly adjust. The light does draw us. The world is exponentially more beautiful in true light than it is behind shades. We know that. So we endure the discomfort until our eyes adjust and can handle the light.
Christ is the true Light. In the here and now, His light is still shadowed. We see as through a glass darkly. Our eyes, even when as wide open as we can get them, still have shutters on them. Even so, even through our shuttered eyes and with His light shadowed, we still can’t bear to look on Him here without His mercy and grace to give us eyes to see. And we certainly will never be able to stand in the presence of His unfiltered, dazzling, Glory and Light without the protection He offers us through His blood.
Oh, Jesus, be my Light. Illuminate the dark corners of my heart, and help me to bear up under your Light as it exposes what needs removed. Draw my eyes toward your Light and help me keep them focused there, and continue to help me see You with brighter and brighter clarity. Thank You, thank You, for shining Your light into my darkness.
What thoughts and insights do you have as you think about Jesus being the Light of the World, being the Light that shined on a world of darkness? I’d love to see your comments!