Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. The LORD wraps Himself in light as with a garment….Jesus says: I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (Psalm 104:1-2; John 8:12)
Dr. Vernon Grounds (1914-2010) told of a dark and dangerous night during World War II. Leading up to the Battle of Midway, a U.S. aircraft carrier was moving through the seas north of Hawaii. All lights were out on the carrier to avoid Japanese submarines. One of the U.S. planes was missing, circling the carrier in the pitch-black sky, searching for its home. That was its only safe landing place, its only hope of not being swallowed up by the South Pacific Ocean. The ship’s captain knew it was risky but he gave the order, “Light up the ship.” Quickly the plane zoomed down onto the carrier’s deck like a homing pigeon.
God did something similar when He sent Christ His Son to come down for us as Savior of the world. The Father gave the command, “Light up the world,” then Jesus arrived. God’s eternal Son took on a human body and soul, and God’s new and radiant light began to shine, pushing back the world’s darkness, spiritual ignorance, and human despair and death. Like a ship lit up in the dark sea of humanity’s sinfulness, Christ came as “the light of the world.”1 Jesus came like the rising sun from heaven, bringing us God’s tender mercies, salvation in the fullest sense, forgiveness, and purification from all unrighteousness. Jesus came to shine on people living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of God’s perfect peace.2 In His amazing grace, the Father sent His Son to obey God’s law in our place, to die on the cross for us, and to rise from the grave to save us from blackest darkness.
Christ’s apostle John writes that we know we have come to know God if, by His grace, we keep His commands and live as Jesus did. True believers never achieve sinless perfection in this life, but the Holy Spirit gives us new sensitivity to our wrongs, new revulsion to them, more strength from God to fight against our own unrighteousness, new humility about our own remaining sin, and a willingness to confess and turn from it. Then John says, God’s truth is seen because the darkness is passing and the true light of Christ is already shining.3
Psalm 104 says “The LORD wraps Himself in light as with a garment,” and this topic of God’s light is rich for meditation. I will touch upon a few more related ideas and number them for ease of discussion.
1. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.4 Let us count our blessings, beloved, and praise God for each one of them. There is no other Fountain and Source for good things than the Lord (the Holy Trinity) and it is wrong to take His good gifts without adoring Him. That is how unbelievers treat God and we cannot be like that.5 Ungratefulness is one of the sins that marks wicked people in the last days.6
2. Jesus says: I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.7 Let’s never forget that the unbelieving world lives in the darkness of sin, ignorance, and aimlessness, so we are never supposed to go along with the crowd. They follow a way that seems right to them, but in the end it leads to eternal death. Christ delivers us from this and guides us in His new way of life, life with eternal value and meaning. Jesus gives us new birth so that we follow Him, not just become His fans. Following Christ means lifetime repentance, trusting Him as Lord and Savior, and devoting our whole life to Him promptly and sincerely. We are saved from sin for holiness to the Lord.8
Through this vain world God guides our feet, And leads us to His heavenly seat:
His mercies ever shall endure, When this vain world shall be no more.9
3. At Christ’s transfiguration, His face shone like the sun and His clothes became dazzling white, as bright as lightning. It was a foretaste of Jesus’ resurrection glory. This event happened as Christ set His face like flint toward His crucifixion at Jerusalem, determined to do God’s will for us and for our salvation.10 Praise the Lord for Christ’s matchless love that motivated Him to sacrifice Himself for us. “Amazing love! How can it be that you, my God, should die for me?” Jesus taught that however great a sinner we may be, if we turn to Him and follow Him, we will never perish or be lost, but will be secure with Him forever. This is the best news of all time!
4. Jesus’ followers receive spiritual enlightenment when the Lord saves us. God the Holy Spirit calls us out of darkness into His wonderful light. It is as if He turns on a bright new light in our soul. We are His chosen people, His royal priesthood, His holy nation, God’s special possession, that now we may thank Him forever with our lips and our lives.11
The Lord says: I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.12
5. Until Jesus returns for us, we are to be light-bearers for Him, reflecting God’s light in this morally dark world. Christ says: You are the light of the world….Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.13
6. When Christ returns, the New Heaven and New Earth will be a kingdom of neverending light, where Christians share in our inheritance with Christ. There will be no more night. We will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun or moon, for the Lord God will give us light. And we will reign with Jesus for ever and ever.14
No need of the sunlight in heaven, we’re told, The Light of the world is Jesus;
The Lamb is the Light in the City of Gold, The Light of the world is Jesus.
Come to the Light, ’tis shining for thee; Sweetly the Light has dawned upon me;
Once I was blind, but now I can see; The Light of the world is Jesus.
To be continued
Notes (various translations): 1 John 8:12. 2 Luke 1:78-79. 3 1 John 2:3-8 and help from a quotation by Pastor Paul Washer. 4 James 1:17. 5 Romans 1:18-32. 6 2 Tim 3:1-5. 7 John 8:12. 8 Romans 6:22-23. 9 from the hymn “Give to our God immortal praise” by Isaac Watts. This hymn is a paraphrase of Psalm 136. 10 Matt 17:1-9. 11 1 Pet 2:9; 2 Cor 4:4-6. 12 Ezek 36:25-27. 13 Matt 5:14-16. 14 Col 1:12; Rev 21:23, 22:5.