Summary: Christians are witnesses of the light who have seen something, have something to say, and who have a dangerous but rewarding job.
By Mark Winter
Text: John 1:1-9
Have you ever read a scripture so thoroughly that you believe there’s nothing else to wring out of it? That’s what I thought with John’s Prologue, when suddenly verse 8 leapt out: “He himself was not the light (meaning John the Baptist); he came only as a witness to the light.”
A witness to the light. That’s a strange statement. How many of us have walked outside on a summer day and said, “I would like to bear witness that this is a bright and sunny morning”? Anyone standing around you might question what you’re putting in your coffee. Light needs no witness. It is self-evident. It bears witness to itself.
And yet there’s the verse, as bright as noontime: “He came as a witness to the light.” So it must mean that John is talking about another kind of light – and indeed he is.
In John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” But He was grieved because men loved darkness more than the light. It’s still true today. Darkness gets far more press than the light. Evil sells.
But, of course, without light we would be in a mess. We couldn’t see. If the sun were to suddenly burn out, we would have eight minutes of light and heat left, and then Planet Earth would slip into a permanent deep-freeze. In the Pacific Northwest, where it’s overcast most days, lots of people suffer from light deprivation, which results in mood swings and depression. There’s even a scientific name for this problem: “Seasonal Affective Disorder,“ or S.A.D. People suffering from S.A.D. have to set up special light panels in their homes and get heavy doses of illumination in order to be happy campers. We need light. We can’t survive without it.
We need another kind of light, too. Our souls depend on the light of God. In this spiritually darkened world, God uses us as His witnesses to point out the Light. The Light has always been here. The Light has never gone away. But people who are in sin or despair sit in darkness, and cannot see the Light. That’s where you and I come in. In one Gospel, Jesus said He was the light, while in another Gospel He told His followers, “You are the light of the world.” Jesus is the true Light from heaven, but we can be reflectors of that light, much like a highway sign reflects the high-beam headlamps of a car.
We’re talking about True Light, the Light that came into the world and made Christmas, the Light to whom John the Baptist pointed and said, “He must become greater; I must become less.” John was a witness. He came to testify to the Light. We, too, have been called to this task, and so let’s consider what a witness is and does.
I. A WITNESS HAS SEEN SOMETHING.
We all know that. We’ve seen enough courtroom movies to know that a witness is valuable because he or she has seen something – something crucial that could either convict a criminal or set an innocent person free. Our testimony of Jesus is crucial, too, because it can mean life or death for a soul hanging in the balance of eternity.
But you know what? You can’t witness to what you have not seen. Have you seen Jesus? I will never forget the first time the eyes of my heart were opened to His majestic beauty. Oh, I had “seen” Jesus all my life. He was in the stained glass windows of my boyhood church in Oklahoma City, in the pictures hanging all over the hallways which depicted him as a starry-eyed do-gooder with no grasp of the real world.
Eventually I walked away from Him. Who needs an irrelevant Savior? I would save myself. But after a long, rough road of unfulfilled dreams and broken relationships, I was in the dark, ready to look at Jesus a second time. This time I went to the Bible and read about Him myself. And there I found a pertinent Jesus, a Man who made audacious claims of Lordship and backed them up with miracles of love, a Savior who seemed vitally interested in everyone He met. Could it be that He was interested in me, a nobody going nowhere? I found out that He was. The Light began to dawn in my heart.
I have never forgotten that remarkable, transformational period in my life, and so I yearn to introduce others to the wonder-working Savior whom I met some 18 years ago. That really is the business of the church, isn’t it? Not politics and potlucks, but introducing lost people to Jesus Christ, the Living Light.
Let me ask you today: have you seen Him?