This past weekend at Eastbrook, I preached on Jesus’ powerful statement: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). I wanted to spend a little time today exploring four ways that Jesus shines the light of God into the world that we might more fully consider the significance of Jesus’ identity and mission.
As the light of the world, first of all, Jesus came to shine God’s light into the world through His incarnation by which He displays the very nature and character of God. As we read in Hebrews 1:3, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” And as John the Evangelist writes in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In His incarnation, Jesus shines the light of God, displaying who God is.
Second, as the light of the world Jesus came to shine God’s light into the world through His proclamation and teaching, which reveals divine truth. After Jesus’ powerful teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, we hear, “the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Matthew 7:28-29). This idea is echoed in John’s prologue: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Jesus’ teaching shines the light of God’s truth into the world, revealing who God is.
As the light of the world, thirdly, Jesus came to shine God’s light into the world through works of service and healing. Peter, one of Jesus’ followers, spoke of Jesus’ wonder-working power in this way: “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him” (Acts 2:22). The works of service and the healing—these signs and wonders—display God’s purposes for humanity. And it is through His service and miracles shining God’s light, that Jesus also displays who God is.
As the light of the world, fourthly, Jesus came to shine God’s light into the world through enter into human suffering and transforming it. We read about Jesus’ transformative suffering on the Cross in the first letter of the Apostle John, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). Jesus’ crucifixion shines the light of God, displaying who God is and just how far God will go on behalf of humanity.
As the light of the world Jesus reveals the Father in various ways, but chiefly here through His incarnation, His teaching, His service and healing, and His entry into and transformation of human suffering.