THE TRUE LIGHT
By Pastor Glenn Pease
A young man went from paper to paper trying to get a job as a cartoonist, but he was rejected and told he had no talent. Finally, a pastor hired him to draw advertising for the church events. It was a poor paying job, and he had no place to stay, and so he was allowed to sleep in the old church manse. One morning as the sun rose he was awakened by the noise of scurrying mice, and this gave him an idea. He began to sketch one of those church mice, and that morning one of the most famous of fictional characters was born-Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney always looked back on that morning as the dawn of his career. Amazing and wondrous things happen in history, and in our physical world when the Sun, the light of our world, rises.
Everyday is a new adventure in life as we rise from the darkness of night, and walk into the light where God promises His mercies are new every morning. What a wondrous thing is light. The poet said,
Out of the scabbard of the night
By God's hand drawn,
Flashes his shining sword of light,
And lo-the dawn.
Every dawn is a wonder, but never has there been a more wondrous dawn than that on which the sun arose for the first time on this planet when it's creator was one of the inhabitants. Through Him all things were made and now He is a part of His own creation. The artist has entered his own painting. The author has become a character in his own drama. It is a wonder beyond all wonders for on that first Christmas dawn the light of our physical world was shining down on the light of our spiritual world. It was a dawn of a new day in a new way, for never before in history had the sun ever risen on Him who is the origin of all light.
John was so dazzled by the light of Christ that he became the apostle of light and used the word light in his Gospel more than all the others put together. In this opening chapter of his Gospel he gives us some of the most amazing revelation about this light that came into the world on that first Christmas. The first thing we want to look at is-
I. THE WONDER OF HIS LIGHT.
John makes some statements here about Jesus that are as mysterious and beyond comprehension as physical light is to science. Light is the very essence of science, and everything that is wondrous about science revolves around light. Science and theology have this in common for all theology also revolves around light.
In verse 4 John says, the life of Jesus was the light of men, and then in verse 9 he says, the true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. Later in John, Jesus says, I am the light of the world. The more you know about the wonders of light, the more you know about the wonder of God's Christmas light-His only begotten Son.
Light and Jesus have so much in common. It is as if light is an expression of His image. For centuries scientists debated the nature of light just as theologians debated the nature of Christ. Was light a wave or a particle? It was so hard to decide because light was so creative it could be either. In 1905 Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize for his paper on light. He proved that the whole controversy over light was nonsense, for light did not have to be one or the other. It could be, and it was, both. Light, he proved, has a dual nature.
So also, theologians have debated the issue-was Jesus God or man? Oceans of ink have been used on both sides. But the Bible makes it clear that this too is nonsense. Jesus, like light, has a dual nature. He is not God or man, but both God and man. The Word who was God became flesh and lived among us. Just as scientists had to face up to the reality that light has a dual nature which is contradictory, so theologians had to face up to the reality that the light of the world is both God and man. It may not be easy to grasp, but light does not have to be logical. It is the absolute of science and theology, and man has to bow to it's power to be dual in nature.
The very first thing that God called good was light. He began the process of creation of all order by saying, "let there be light." Then He said the light was good. Everything else that He made He made in the light and He made all life dependent upon light.
Christmas marks the beginning of a new creation. When Jesus was born God was saying for the second time, let there be light. Thus began the creation of a new order based on the light of His Son. The wonder of this Christmas Light is that it is as universal as the physical light of the sun. John says Jesus is the true light that gives light to every man. Christmas is the most universal of holidays, for even the most worldly people get involved, even if they do not know it's true meaning. Light shines on all men even if they are blind and cannot see it. Christmas is the most unique of all holidays because God gives His light to all men even if they are not aware of it. The wonder is that every human being on this planet has a right to receive God's gift of light, and thus, become a child of God.
Spurgeon said, "The most despotic monarch cannot enclose the light for himself. The meanest beggar takes a royal share. It cannot be monopolized, but pays its gladsome visits to all alike. Even thus Scriptures reveal the freeness of divine grace and experience shows that it shines on the poorest and the simplest, and it enlightens the foolish and the ignorant." Take away light and you take away life for darkness cannot produce life or sustain it. Only light can give life. There is no power in the universe like the power of light. It is the source, not only of life, but of joy, pleasure and healing and all that makes life worthwhile. Jesus is all of this to the spiritual life of man. And the wonder of it is that it comes to us like the light of the sun, not like the thunder, but quietly.
How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given.
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
Light is the greatest power in the universe yet it works so gently. A thread has more power to stop you than millions of rays of light. We can pass through them with no resistance at all, and feel no pressure as they flood our bodies with life-giving power. Jesus is the wondrous light that can silently enter our lives and give us victory over the power of darkness.
In one December issue of Discover, there is an article about physicist John Asmus and his wonderful flashblaster. He travels around the world with a light machine which can clean corroded works of art. It restores them to their original white marble. Chemicals of all kinds have been used, but they do damage to the marble. To art conservators around the world, Asmus is a sort of technical missionary saving works of art by means of light. He can focus an intense flash of light-millions of watts packed into a spot smaller than a dime-which heats a black crust of gypsum to as much as 3 thousand degrees. Then with a pop it is vaporized in a millionth of a second leaving the surface clean. Beautiful works of art in museums and churches all over Europe, which have turned black by centuries of pollution, are being restored to their original white beauty by his flashblaster.
God gave the world a spiritual flashblaster on that first Christmas. Jesus is the only light that can cleanse God's highest and most noble work of art-man. Man has been corroded by sin and has lost the luster of his original purity. Nothing can restore him but the light of Christ. John says, "If we confess our sin He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The light of the world working in total silence can focus on our sins and vaporize them, and leave us clean in an instant. Thank God for this wondrous gift of light at Christmas.
Man will go on discovering wondrous ways to use light. The plan is for a garbage disposal system where a laser will simply vaporize all of our garbage. But on the spiritual level there can be no improvement for Jesus is our light, and He can vaporize our spiritual garbage right now.
John Asmus, who developed the flashbaster, also worked on 6 devices for Star Wars. Modern man knows that light is the key to the best weapons of the future. H. G Wells, long ago, wrote, The War Of The Worlds and told of the Martian invasion of earth with their mysterious swords of light. They could drop men in their tracks and make lead run like water, and flash any substance into a mass of flame. Modern science is making this fantasy a reality by means of laser beams. But the Christian has had this weapon of light all along in spiritual warfare. By means of the Sword Of The Spirit, Christians have penetrated the world of darkness everywhere with the power of light. This wondrous power sets the prisoner of darkness free and ushers then into the kingdom of light.
When the baby Jesus was brought to the temple in Jerusalem, Simeon took the child into his arms and praised God saying, "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." This little baby was already being declared the light of the world. He is the light that saves, that cleanses, that heals and that guides.
As the light of the world Jesus is also the hope of the world. Light is the hope that every form of evil can be defeated. In the physical realm light is man's hope for defeating the negatives of life. William J. Young, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, uses the laser to detect if a painting is authentic or a fake. For example, the laser revealed that a 16th century painting had zinc in the paint. This proved it was a fake because zinc was not used in paint until 1820. Light reveals the fake and that is why the Christian is to test all things by the light of Christ and His Word. Any idea or practice that cannot look good in the light of Christ is a fake. Paul makes a major issue of this to the Ephesians in 5:8-9, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth." These are the kinds of gifts God wants to give the world through Christians who are children of light.
When God gave His Son as the light of world, He began a whole new family called sons of the light. In I Thess. 5:5 he writes of Christians, "You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness." Peter put it this way in I Peter 2:9, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praise of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light."
The wonder of this wonderful light is that we are welcome to walk in it and like the angels, the shepherds, and wise men, become witnesses of that light God gave at Christmas. That is the next point we want to look at-
II. THE WITNESS TO HIS LIGHT.
John the Baptist was not the light, says verse 8, but he came as a witness to the light. That can be said of all other persons involved in the Christmas story. The angels broke into time and space and when they did the glory of the Lord shone around them. This was a light in the darkness the shepherds would never forget, but they did not bow to the angels or set up a monument to them. They went to the manger, for the light of the angels was not the light God sent into the world. It was only a witness to the Light.
The star that led the wise men to Jesus had to be a spectacular light to get their attention, but they did not worship the star. Its light was to lead them to the light of the world, and so it's purpose was to be a witness to that light. What we need to see is that this is the case with all lights. They are all to point us to Him who is the True Light, and the source of all of lights wonders.
As children of light, all Christians are to be witnesses to the True Light. This is the greatest challenge of the Christian life,, and there are more ways to fail than can be counted. We try the laid back approach of just being nice people, and we seldom see anybody come to the True Light. We are often like bald men trying to sell hair tonic. We do not impress people very intensely with the product we give witness to. On the other hand, there are Christians who blaze like a tumble weed for awhile and then burn out. Their witness is also negative for they are soon back in darkness. Others come on so strong they scare those in darkness.
Don Richardson in Peace Child, tells of he and his family moving into a hut among the Sawi people. As natives often do, they surrounded his house and filled the porch and were peeking in the windows. Dan, thinking nothing of it, pumped up his kerosene pressure lamp and turned it on. Listen to his description of the effects-
"...forgetting that this was the first
time I had used such a device among the Sawi. There was
a mad scramble as the unexpected burst of light struck their
eyes. No one took the time to find the stairs-they simply
abandoned ship by leaping over the railings. Fortunately the
level of our porch was only five feet above ground.
Outside, the drumming came to a sudden halt, and the
chanting boiled over into a wail. There was an unmistakable
sound of hundreds of feet stampeding into the night. Setting
the lamp on a counter, I hurried outside to reassure the people.
Then I saw why they had fled. Our entire home was agleam
with light like some gigantic, awesome jack-o-lantern. Through
hundreds of cracks in sago-frond walls, through every door
and window, the blinding light of the little five-hundred-
candlepower silk mantle was stabbing into the darkness."
Slowly he was able to get them to return and not be afraid. As children of the light and witnesses to the true light, we need to be sensitive to the fact that people in darkness are not impressed by a dim light, and they are not attracted by a light so bright that it frightens them. Light that is attractive has to be of an intensity that is pleasant and revealing. It has to give people hope in their darkness that there is a way out: That there is a power available that can cleanse and heal and set people free from the bondage to darkness. That is what motivates people at Christmas. All the lights and beauty give people hope that life can be beautiful, and darkness can be overcome.
God's plan is that we, as children of light, bear witness to the Light that can save and heal and give life. Jesus is the Lord of Light but He is also the Lord of the lesser lights which He uses to point to the greater. We are those lesser lights. A Danish author tells the true story of a widow and her child who were going to be put out of their home because of a debt. Her husband had paid off most of the debt to a friend who loaned him the money. But a plague took both he and his friend, and the heir of the friend had no record of any payments, and he demanded the full value of the debt. Without any record of payments she had no proof and was forced to lose her home. The night before she was to leave, a fire fly came into her bedroom where she was earnestly praying for God to help her find a solution to her dilemma. She did not want this creature in her house, and she began to chase it. It went behind a big chest that stood against the wall. She could not reach it so she pulled the chest out a bit. Something wedged between the wall and the chest fell to the floor. She pulled it out, and to her great delight it was the book in which her husband had receipts for all his payments. God answered her prayers by the tiniest little light. This little light of mine, we sing-I'm going to let it shine. Why? Because God can use our little light to answer major prayers and lead people to the Light of the world.
In 1979, a crew of physicists and astronomers from Minnesota were up near Winnipeg with a large array of scientific equipment. They were there to study a complete solar eclipse. Peter Fribley was one of them and he gives this account-
It was the most errie sight I have ever
seen or likely ever will: fifteen degrees
drop in temperature in minutes, sudden
high winds, the long skip of night com-
munications coming up midday, birds
nesting as if it were night, and most
awesome of all, a 360-degree sunset. And
And yet, all the while, light, the ring of
refracted light from behind the blotting
moon. Thus even during the time of so-
called total eclipse, "the light shone in the
darkness, and the darkness did not over-
On the cross, the Light of the world went through His total eclipse, and for three hours there was darkness over the land. But as with the sun of our solar system, it was only a temporary eclipse, for darkness at it's worst cannot conquer light. The cross is not a very popular Christmas symbol, but it should be, for Jesus as the Light of the world is God's greatest gift to man. On the cross Jesus continued to shine when evil was doing it's worst. Love was stronger than hate and forgiveness was stronger than sin. In this Christmas season, let us thank God often for His gift of the True Light.