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John 1:1-5 1

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 

John 8:12

12 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.”

 

Matthew 5:14-16

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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.

Background

The New Testament Gospel writers like John, clearly loved the metaphor describing Jesus as Light. As this study is intended to be for the fourth Sunday in Advent, we will look at light, its power and why it is a perfect descriptor for our Savior. Lets take a quick look at a few things about light:

  • In the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ is introduced as the Logos; that is, the Word of God by which the cosmos was created and rendered intelligible. It appears that John is responding here, at least in part, to the Greek belief that the universe is a place of reason, beauty, and harmony. In today’s world, many of us may have our doubts about this but it does point us in a direction of hope.
  • Passages from the Bible both Old and New Testaments portray light as a principle of truth, intelligence, creation, and divinity. Darkness covers evil, light exposes evil!
  • Nothing can exceed the speed of light because at that primitive flash of first light, the limits were set for all future states of motion, and it did this by being the defining moment of creation. By this reason of its origin, light frames all future possibilities and bounds. What a great descriptor for Jesus!
  • Light “comes down” from its characteristic speed as it is slowed and blocked by material bodies like glass, water, or any other translucent/transparent substance. The same can be also seen in God’s humanity. God the Son came down from heaven and was bound (blocked) by earthly limitations. This remains a key element of the Christian faith: Jesus was both human and God. If it were not for these earthly limitations, we would have no perspective on who our God really is.
  • The first great act of creation documented in the book of Genesis is “Let there be light.” Although God will later create the lights of the heavens (the sun, moon, and stars), He did not work in darkness. Therefore, light, by its very creation and nature has full power over all else including darkness.

The first verse of John 1, “In the beginning,” re-enforces creation. The next verses (1:2-4) secure Jesus’ role as a creator with God. Furthermore, God has chosen to recreate God’s very self in Jesus. In John 1:14 he states, “the Word became flesh.” The fact that the incarnation of God is first presented as light shining in darkness evokes the creation story in Genesis. Here, God has been reborn into the world (incarnated), now as God’s creating Word in the flesh. The threefold claim, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” reveals the origin of Jesus, His relationship with God, and His identity as God. Christmas, therefore, can be described as the Light shining in the darkness.

In John 8:12, we learn that there are two types of light in the world. We can perceive one, or both, or neither! When we are born into this world, we perceive physical light, and by it we learn of our Creator’s handiwork in the things we see. However, although that light is good, there is another Light, a Light so important that the Son of God had to come in order to both declare and impart it to mankind. The allegory used by Jesus in this verse speaks of the light of His Truth, the light of His Word, the light of eternal Life. Those who perceive the true Light will never walk in spiritual darkness.

We take a candle into a room to dispel the darkness. Likewise, the Light of Jesus Christ has to be taken into the darkness of sin that engulfs the hearts and lives of those who are not following Him. That’s the condition behind having this Light—that we follow Him. If we do not follow Him, we will not have this Light, and this simple truth is this is the only path to eternal life.

In Matthew’s Gospel, we surmise that Jesus had in mind a specific city on a hill, Jerusalem. Jerusalem was known as the mountain of the temple of the Lord and it was the seat of King David, a man whose dynasty God had entrusted with revealing divine judgements to the world. God had promised David that he would always have a lamp in Jerusalem, so, especially at night, the light from the great fire on the Temple’s altar was a visible reminder of the cities role in world affairs. Those entrusted with God’s words were therefore likened to lights and poetically compared to the stars. As small towns were formed and began to dot the countryside, the first Century Jewish homes began casting their light across the land. Because of ancient Israel’s belief in its “light giving role,” the menorah style lamp stand, with its seven lamps, became forever associated with the Jewish nation. Jesus here was reminding His disciples that they are to to be like those Jewish lamps and reveal the Truth before men. When they do, then good things will happen and these good works will bring glory to God.

Items for Discussion

  • Have you ever been in total darkness, lost so that you had no perception of where you were or the dangers around you?
  • There are many people that seem to be happy in their dark place. Why do you think that is?
  • God gave us physical light so we could see His hand in Creation. What do you see? This would be the evidence of God’s existence.
  • God gave us the Light of Christ (Spiritual Light) so we could see God Himself. What do you see? This would be the evidence of God’s existence too.
  • Using the term, Power of Light, what power does light really have?
  • How does the statement, “God literally had to turn on the lights before creating,” help you with understanding Christmas?
  • How do you typically “Share the Light” on Christmas?
  • Lasers amplify light. They do so generating power to cut steel, even shoot down incoming missiles. How would you use the laser concept do describe what our world would be like if all humanity could focus itself on Jesus?

Discussion Challenge

  • How has this Advent Study Series helped you re-connect with Christmas during these times?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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