Summary: 6th in a seven part series on the incarnation from John 1.
As a young child growing up in Tucson, one of the special treats at Christmas time was going down to Winterhaven to see all the Christmas decorations and lights that were on display there. And so when we had our own children, one of the traditions that developed in our family is that we would go to Christmas Eve service at church and then afterwards we would drive around and look at Christmas lights.
It seems that the association between Christmas and lights is certainly appropriate. Even in the Biblical accounts that we associate with Christmas, light is a predominant theme. In Luke’s account in chapter 2 we see the angel appear amid the great light of the glory of the Lord. And in Matthew 2, we find that the magi were guided to Jesus by the light of a star, arriving at the house in Bethlehem about two years after He was born.
So we shouldn’t be surprised that as we continue our study of the “logos” from John chapter 1, John also uses light to describe the nature of the “logos”. Once again let’s read our passage out loud together:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-5, 14 (NIV)
Let’s take a moment to quickly review what we’ve discovered about the “logos” so far:
• He is eternal. He has no beginning or end and He is uncreated.
• He has personality, which means that we can have a relationship with Him.
• He is fully God. He has all the attributes of God
• He is the Creator and His creative process is ongoing
• He is life, and therefore is the source of both our physical and spiritual life.
This morning, we’ll focus on the last part of verse 4 and verse 5:
…and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
Just as we saw with “life” last week, the concept of “light” is one that is used frequently by John. He uses the word 24 times in his gospel, including 7 times here in the first chapter. And he uses it another 13 times in his epistles and in Revelation.
When we think of light as it’s used in the Bible, several different ideas come to mind. Light is often associated with illumination and knowledge. In fact, we still use it that way today when we use a light bulb as a symbol of understanding. But I think John has something else in mind here and we can get some insight into that from Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus. After Jesus was born, He was taken to the Temple to be presented to the Lord. A man named Simeon was there and he took Jesus in his arms and proclaimed these words:
"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."
Luke 2:29-32 (NIV)
In that passage we find that light is very clearly associated with revelation and I think that is exactly the same thought that John is expressing in his gospel when he describes the “logos” as being light.
The “logos” revealing
There are obviously almost unlimited aspects to the revelation of the “logos”, but we’re going to focus on just three of them this morning:
1. The “logos” reveals the true nature of God
Up until the incarnation of the “logos”, man had only an incomplete picture of the nature of God because God had only partially revealed Himself. In the Old Testament we see God appearing before a few people at various times and in various forms, but He never fully reveals Himself. We also see pre-incarnate appearances of the “logos” – for instance I’m convinced that the fourth man in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego was Jesus. But again we don’t get a full revelation of God. God the Holy Spirit was present at times as well, but only for a specific time and for a specific purpose. He didn’t dwell permanently in the lives of God’s people.