Phil Cox


(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)

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The Light of the World

15th December 2007

The Bible gives Jesus many names. The start of John's gospel is well-known for calling Him "The Word":

John 1v1-3
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

The Greek word "logos", which the NIV and others translate as "Word", could also be translated as "utterance" or "sentence". My preferred translation of it is "Message". Jesus is God's Message to us. He came to show many things; He is the ultimate demonstration of the character of God, and He is the ultimate example of what a human can be.

That's why John went on the call Jesus "the light".

John 1v4-5
In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

For 2000 years, Jesus has stood alone as the Message from God, the proof of the love of God and the ideal human. No-one else did what He did, or said what He said. But the Message isn't only what He said, or what He did, it's Him himself. He is the Light of men. We understand God, and we understand mankind, because Jesus came to teach us, and to show us. He is still uniquely the Message; no-one else comes close, because only Jesus Christ is Emmanuel - God With Us (another name the Bible gives Him). But many don't understand the Jesus Christ the Message.

John the Baptist realised that Jesus is unique:

John 1v6-8
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

And if - like John - you recognise the Light of the World, then you can be utterly changed!

John 1v9-13
The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God ó children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husbandís will, but born of God.

Just in case you didn't get it first time, John repeats:

John 1v14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus is God. And God choose to become human, and to live with us, to share our experiences and to show us that there's a better way to live.

Later, Jesus called Himself the Light of the World:

John 8v12
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

And again:

John 12v44-46
Then Jesus cried out, "When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no-one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

To avoid walking in darkness, we need the light of life. Jesus is that Light. But can we recognise Him as God's unique Message? Can we believe in Him?

But Jesus said a couple more very interesting thing about this. Firstly, He said:

John 9v5
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

And He also said:

Matthew 5v14-16
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Yes, folks. Jesus is the Light of the World. But since He ascended into heaven, he shines through the church. How much the world recognises Jesus the Light of the World depends on how brightly the church shines.