This world can be a very dark place. Sources of doom and gloom surround us: political scandals, personal tragedies, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and on and on, seemingly forever. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some sources of light and hope, instead?
Good news: We do have a Source of Light and Hope!
God is Light.
The Bible regularly equates God with Light as opposed to darkness. It starts with Genesis 1:3: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light“. It continues in Exodus 13:21, where a pillar of fire provided light to the Israelites on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. Psalms is full of praises to God for His light. A well-known verse is Psalm 27:1 “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?” but also check out Psalm 4:6, 18:28, 36:9, 43:3, 89:15, 90:8, 104:2, 118:27, 119:105, and 139:11-12. There is also Isaiah 2:5 “Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.” and Micah 7:8 “Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me.“
God promised light to the world.
All of these Old Testament passages describe God and His Light as seen from that point in history. The people of Israel could look back on God’s dealings with them and have hope that He would continue to light their way in the future.
But there is more: The Bible also gave prophecies of a time when God’s light would be seen even more directly. Isaiah’s prophecies of the Messiah speak of Him as being a Light (emphasis added below):
The people who walk in darknessIsaiah 9:2
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.
I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness,Isaiah 42:6-7
I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You,
And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the nations,
To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the dungeon
And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.
Arise, shine; for your light has come,Isaiah 60:1-3
And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
“For behold, darkness will cover the earth
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the LORD will rise upon you
And His glory will appear upon you.
“Nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
These prophecies give additional hope. Not only is God Light in Himself, but He would also send that Light into the world to shine directly on us. We wouldn’t have to stop at knowing God was in control and watching over us (wonderful as that is!). We could have that light immediately and intimately with us.
Jesus fulfilled those promises.
As Matthew 4:13-16 tells us, Jesus fulfilled those prophecies. The gospel of John starts by declaring that Jesus is that prophesied Light, the long-awaited Messiah.
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.…There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.John 1:1-10
Then Jesus emphatically declared it Himself:
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”John 8:12, see also John 12:46
Note: There are some who say that Jesus never explicitly claimed to be God. He may not have used the exact words “I am God.” But “I am the Light of the world” is one of many times that He clearly made that point.
John chapter 9 tells the story of Jesus demonstrating that truth by bringing light to a man who had been blind since birth. This is the longest, but not the only, story of Jesus healing the blind. Similar stories are found in Matthew 9:27-29, 15:30-31, 20:29-34, and 21:14. Mark 8:22-26, Mark 10:46-52, and Luke 18:35-43 repeat and overlap with Matthew’s accounts.
The John 9 account, though, starts with the explicit statement that this healing was to display God’s glory and validate Jesus’ ministry (John 9:1-5). This fulfilled the Isaiah 42 prophecy above, where verse 7 says that the Messiah is appointed to open blind eyes. In fact, when John the Baptist questioned whether Jesus was truly the Messiah or should they wait for someone else, Jesus used these miracles to point back to the prophecies and answer (paraphrased) “See for yourself.” (Matthew 11:2-5)
How do we react to that Light?
Jesus’ next sentence in Matthew 11:6 leads to another point, though. He said “blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” Our relationship with God is both shown, and determined, by how we react to that light. Will we behave like cockroaches, running to hide from the light? Or will we behave like the blind man, and worship the One who heals us? (John 9:35-38)
Notice in the story that the Pharisees were determined not to appreciate the light. First, they didn’t believe that the healed man had really been blind, until they called in his parents for confirmation. Once the parents said that Yes, this was their son who had been born blind, the Pharisees asked him to repeat once again how he had been healed. They were especially upset that this had happened on the Sabbath, when — to their minds — it was unlawful, un-holy, and a very-bad-thing to heal on the Sabbath. They told the formerly-blind man that they didn’t know where this so-called healer had come from. The man answered rather sarcastically that it was amazing the Pharisees couldn’t see that someone who could give sight to the blind must have come from God. For that bit of honesty, the Pharisees kicked the man out of the synagogue! (John 9:28-34)
Jesus told them that since they would not recognize their own version of blindness, but insisted that they were just fine, they would continue in their sin (John 9:39-41). Spoiler: They did not appreciate that news!
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.John 3:19-21, see also 2 Corinthians 4:4
Jesus is the Light.
As mentioned at the start of this article, the world often seems very dark. But Jesus gives hope. Even when bad things continue to happen until He returns, He still wants to be right here with us. He gives us an invitation to step out into the Light. No one has to remain in darkness unless, like the Pharisees, they stubbornly insist on doing so.