The disciple was perhaps Jesus’ closest friend on earth. Because they were probably distant relatives John had watched his older cousin for years, and when he followed Him he was chosen not only to be a disciple but one of the inner 3. He knew Jesus as well or better than anyone in his day. After Matthew, Mark and Luke had written their synoptic Gospels focusing on Jesus’ earthly life, John wrote his bringing Jesus’ deity to the forefront. This was needed for heresies and false teachings were undermining the belief in Jesus as fully God. John wrote to correct that. He opens his book with a 14 verse short biography and summary of the whole Gospel. What is significant are the names he used for Jesus: “Word” and “Light.” These are very key since they set the foundation and direction for all John will write. Just what do they mean?
A word is a medium of manifestation. Words convey subjective unseen concepts, and Jesus as the Word revealed aspects of God’s character and being that are essential to our understanding of Him. These include traits like compassion, initiation, mercy and grace, holiness, forgiveness, sovereignty and power. Thoughts must be clothed in words to understand and remember them. That’s why babies can’t remember anything until they can attach word labels to the experience. We can’t really understand God without looking at the person and life of Jesus.
A word is also a means of communication. They are necessary to transmit information to others. That is how I am able to express my thoughts to you in this blog. If not for words, we couldn’t convey known truth from one generation to the next. We would each have to learn everything from nothing by trial and error. Jesus communicates what God is like and teaches about God by His words and works.
Finally, words reveal the speaker’s intellectual caliber and moral character. We form opinions about others by the words that come out of their mouths. Jesus, the Word of God, exemplifies the intellectual and moral character of God (John 1:18) and shows us how truly wonderful He is!
So Jesus as the Word reveals God to us because He is God in human flesh. But John uses another name for Him as well. He calls Him Light (John 1:4-9). Jesus called Himself the Light (John 8:12; 9:1-7). This, too, is a very significant name for there are many similarities between Jesus and light. Life cannot exist without light. Light is needed for everything to grow and for health as well. Light removed darkness, gives joy, reveals things as they are and provides guidance and direction for us. Darkness must flee from light, light never flees from darkness. All of these, and more, are true of Jesus as the Light of the world.
Physical light is a picture of the spiritual light He provides for all. In eternity He will also be the physical light. His Shekinah glory will light up the New Jerusalem and the whole universe (Revelation 21:34-24; 22:5). John also calls Him the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16), the first light in the darkness, signifying that the full light is on its way. Now Jesus is the Light for all who follow Him (Psalm 27:1).
Therefore these two names, Word and Light, clearly show that the man Jesus is totally God and therefore able to reveal God to us. He is ‘God with skin on.’ However Jesus also said that we are the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) and that we are to communicate God’s words to men (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). As God reveals Himself to us and we become more like Him we exemplify His character and nature to others. As we walk in the light then His light reflects from us to others who are attracted to the light. Make sure your light is showing clearly, not dull, not flickering from time to time. And make sure your words and works are godly so others are attracted to Jesus through you!
Think of some specific ways that Jesus reveals God to you? What do you know and appreciate about God because you see it exemplified in Jesus’ earthly life? What traits and characteristics of God as revealed in Jesus mean the most to you personally? Which is He trying to reveal to you now, in this stage in your life?
Also think about Jesus as your light. What would your life be like without His light? Think of specific times He has guided you when you need guidance, brought joy when discouraged, given hope when things seemed hopeless, and revealed danger so it could be avoided? Thank Him for these.
BIBLE STUDY ASSIGNMENT
We’ve seen the importance of seeing a passage through the eyes of the original recipients and coming up with questions they might have asked when they hear it. We’ve talked about looking at the whole context to discover the meaning of a passage and that we must view the passage through the personality and perspective of the author. Now we’ll see how to use other similar passages to bring insight and meaning to our study. Next we’ll look at the name Mediator, which is mentioned half a dozen times in the New Testament. No one passage says it all, but together these form a complete picture of the significance of calling Jesus ‘Mediator.’ Look at each passage and write a summary of what it says about a Mediator, then summarize what they all say together. The passages are Galatians 3:19, 20; I Timothy 2:5; and Hebrews 8:6; 9:15 and 12:24.
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