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Who Is Jesus? Light of the World
by Dr. Linda Smallwood, BBS, M.Min., D.Min.


In This Lesson
Light vs. Darkness | Light Repels Darkness | Light Is Impartial


There are two types of light in the world. We can be aware of and comprehend one, or both, or neither. When we are born, most of us immediately become aware of physical light. As we develop, by that natural physical light, we see and learn about God's beautiful creation.

And although that light is good and necessary for physical growth and health, there is another light in the world that enables us to know God. In the Old Testament, that light shone from time to time as men would earnestly seek Him and as He honored their hunger by revealing more of Himself to them.

"For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness." (Psalm 18:28)

"For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life." (Psalm 56:13)

Psalm 119:105—

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Light vs. Darkness
How many times have you gotten up from bed in the middle of the night and hit your leg or stubbed your toe on some obstacle you couldn't see because of the darkness? We all have at one time or another. Or perhaps you have spent a night in fear of some danger, whether real or imaginary, because it was dark. How different everything seemed the next day in the bright sunshine!

It's easy to understand how the analogies of darkness and light can be used as symbols of evil or good, error or correctness, uncertainty or assurance, trouble or peace, death or life. Black, or the dark, represents everything bad in the world, and light is a symbol of all that is good.

Contrary to popular thought, dark is not the opposite of light. Darkness is the absence of light. Think about it. You can be in a totally dark room, but when someone strikes a match or turns on a flashlight [torchlight], immediately the light invades the darkness. And no matter what happens, darkness never gets more dark — pitch black is simply pitch black. But light, on the other hand, can get brighter and lighter. Darkness can never overcome light either, but the light can totally repel the darkness.

The same laws that God created to govern our physical world also govern the spiritual one. In the Garden of Eden, everything was beautiful and bright and perfect. Then suddenly, the world was plunged into spiritual darkness because sin had entered the picture and separated Adam and Eve from God. Why? Because our sin separates us from our holy and righteous God who cannot even look on sin, let alone cohabit with it. The Bible describes it this way:

"...but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. . . . Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men." (Isaiah 59:2, 9-10)

"They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart." (Ephesians 4:18)

1 John 2:11—

Without God in our lives, all we can do is wander around in the dark — lost, not knowing where we are going, searching for a light, for a reprieve, for a way out . . . for a way back to Him for whom we were created.

Light of God
The light spoken of above is so necessary to our souls that the Son of God became one of us to declare it and to impart it to us, so that by it, we might better know our God.

God is the source of all light. In fact, God is the light. "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5)

Until we receive a special revelation of the true Light of God, we are all in spiritual darkness headed for certain destruction where "there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (cf. Matthew 8:12, 13:42,50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30; Luke 13:28).

That is why Jesus describes Himself as the "Light of the World"; He came to give us God's light, to reveal to us God's love and His will for us.

"In him was life, and the life was the light of men." (John 1:4)

Listen to Jesus' own words about Himself.

John 8:12—

John 9:5—

It should not have surprised the people to hear Jesus call Himself the "Light of the world". The prophet Isaiah had predicted that the Messiah would come as the Light of God. In fact, the Apostle Matthew quoted this Old Testament prophecy and said that it came true in Jesus: "The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned." (Matthew 4:16 via Isaiah 9:2)

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Light Repels Darkness
It's a reality of nature that light totally, absolutely repels [drives away] darkness! Where there is light, no darkness remains.

In the same way as natural light repels natural darkness, Jesus, the Light of the world, drives out the spiritual darkness that came as a result of man's sin. His presence in our hearts repels sin, guilt, shame, and fear. His love drives out hatred and brings hope, assurance, comfort, and strength to the soul.

Psalm 27:1—

In a way, you could say that light is stronger than darkness. All the darkness in the world can't shut out the light of a single candle. If you have Jesus in your life, the powers of evil around you and the dark experiences of life cannot put out His light.

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5)

Frances Jane Crosby (18201915), better-known as Fanny Crosby, was one of the most prolific hymn writers in history. Despite being blind since the age of six, Fanny Crosby wrote more than 8,000 hymns. She did not spend her life in bitterness and defeat, but instead dedicated her life to Christ.

She once remarked that, if she had perfect earthly sight, she might not have written so many poems and hymns to the Lord because she'd have been distracted by all the interesting things in this world. But in blindness, she could "focus" on the pure light of God. She said, "When I get to Heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!" Jesus was clearly her inner source of spiritual light that drove away the darkness and gloom. He flooded her soul with sunshine. Although she didn't have the first natural physical light we mentioned in the introduction, she certainly perceived the second Light!

"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. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.'" (John 12:35-36)

Other references to the Light of God:

Micah 7:8—

1 John 1:7—

Light Reveals What Is True
Often, things in the dark take on peculiar qualities or shapes — sometimes as a result of varying shadows and other nearby objects and sometimes from our own active imaginations. But in the light we are able to see these objects as they truly are. In the same way, spiritual light reveals the truth about God, His will and His works, and it exposes the works of darkness done by our spiritual enemies.

We find this light in God's written Word, the Bible, and in God's living Word, Jesus Christ. As the Creator, Jesus is also the revealer and interpreter of life. He helps us understand God's Word and shows us God's way for us. He, Himself, is the way.

"Jesus answered him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6)

Jesus helps us to see ourselves as we really are. In the light of His perfect life and teachings and what He reveals to us about God the Father, we see how far short we come of God's standards and requirements. We see our sins, our pride, our self-centeredness, and hidden motives. Jesus shows us our need for the forgiveness and new life that only He can offer us.

In Jesus we see God's love for us, His patience with us, and His provision for our salvation. He shows us how to receive God into our lives and enjoy His light forever.

2 Corinthians 4:6—

Hebrews 1:3—

Light Is Energy and Produces Growth
Light is also radiant energy. As scientists are learning more about the power of light radiating from the sun, we see more and more building and inventions that utilize solar energy.

The sun's energy is a tremendous source of power for human use. We can use it to heat our homes and power some machines.

But greatest of all is its effect on organic life and health. Plants need sunlight in order to grow. Sunlight also kills many germs and contributes to our health and strength. Plants are positively phototropic [they are always drawn to the light]. They will never draw away from the light. In fact, if you have a plant that is drooping on one side, turn that side toward the light and watch as the plant gains strength and actually turns itself to the light.

Can the same be said about us and our spiritual Light? As believers, we should always tend towards spiritual things — towards fellowship, prayer, and the Word of God. The unbeliever always does the opposite because light exposes the evil and everything that's wrong in his life. "And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed." (John 3:19-20)

Just as plants are drawn to natural light, no one can come into the true spiritual Light unless he is drawn: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:44)

What the sun is to the earth and the other planets that share our solar system, Jesus, the "Sun of Righteousness", is to us.

Malachi 4:2—

Just as the sun produces life, health, warmth, energy, and power to the earth, Jesus Christ brings life, health, warmth, energy, and power to those who accept Him. And like the plant bursting forth from the seed and rising to meet the sunlight, the dead in Christ will one day burst forth from the grave with new bodies and rise to meet the "Light of the World" when He returns for them.

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Light Is Impartial
Light does not discriminate. It shines where it shines and everything within its path equally receives the light. The sun shines on the rich and the poor, the wise and the foolish, the tall and the short, the weak and the strong, the fair-skinned and dark-skinned. Light simply does not care who or what it shines on. It simply shines.

In much the same way, God has sent His Light into the world, a light that shines for all the world to see and receive — on both good and bad, rich and poor, learned and unlearned. Some people in Israel thought the Messiah would be just for their nation. But God clearly told their ancestor Abraham that the whole world would be blessed through him (cf. Genesis 22:18). Likewise, God made it clear to the Apostles that His light of salvation is for the whole world. "The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world." (John 1:9)

Luke 1:78-79—

When Jesus was walking with a group of followers one day, a blind man sat by the roadside begging. He had heard about Jesus' power to heal, and he cried out with a loud voice, "Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!" (Mark 10:47) The people scolded him and told him to be quiet because they didn't think Jesus had time to help a beggar. But Jesus not only had time for that one man, and countless others during His earthly ministry, but He has time and help for everyone who calls on Him in faith!

"And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God." (Luke 18:43)

Life took on new meaning and a new direction for that man that day. Light had suddenly invaded his world of darkness. And just as suddenly, the past no longer mattered; it didn't matter what he had been, where he'd sat begging, how he had stumbled in the dark. Now he walked in the light!

Reaction to Light
Drive down a dark alley at night and watch what happens as the light from your vehicle's head lamps falls on the "inhabitants" of that alley. Rats, street dogs and alley cats scramble under the dumpsters and behind boxes to escape the light. Drunkards turn their heads away and hold up their hands to try to block the light from their faces. Homeless people pull their meager coverings over themselves so as not to be seen.

How Unbelievers React to the Light
In much the same way, some people refuse, and even try to escape, the light Jesus wants to bring into their lives. They want to continue living like they have, to have their own way. They don't want God on His terms; they want Him on theirs.

When Jesus was on earth, some people hated Him because His teaching showed them what sinners they were. They wanted to put out the light. So they killed Him. But that didn't put out the light...

And neither will man's rejection of Christ today put out the light. Jesus told the people of His day that He had brought salvation for everyone. And He makes the same promise for us today. Whoever accepts Him will be saved. But those who refuse His light are condemning themselves to live in darkness and to one day be cast into a place Jesus called "outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth"!

John 3:19-20—

How Believers React to the Light
For believers, Jesus promises that we will never walk in darkness (cf. John 8:12), which is a reference to the assurance of salvation we have in Him. He also promises that, as long as we remain in the Light, we will not habitually sin. Instead, we repent of our sin in order to stay close to the Light of His love.

"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:5-7)

The moon has no light of its own, but rather reflects the light from the sun. Jesus says that we also will reflect His Light into our dark world. In fact, He commands that we be lights. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16) Of course, the way in which we reflect His light is by our actions and our words.

It is important that we, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, maintain a consistent, credible, and obvious witness in the world by honoring God in all that we do. And we should always be "prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15), so that others living in spiritual darkness might come to the Light.

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