The Life and Light of all Mankind
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
John’s incarnation account here is not aimed at the history of the event. I would say that knowledge of Luke and Matthew’s account of the birth of Christ are assumed. Instead, John is focused more on the purpose of the Incarnation. As such, John connects the Incarnation of Christ to God’s purpose in revelation, creation and salvation. And so John uses terms to describe the coming of Christ that relate to what is needed most for every person. John is setting the foundation for all of our lives, what God’s purposes are for us, and how we can know that we are pursuing the right pathway in life!
Light and life in verse 4 are an example of this.
- Connection of Light and Life to Genesis One
The connection between Genesis 1 and John 1 is the comparison between creation and us personally. What is the significance of creation in your life today? That is what John is exploring. The action of God on all creation is the same as His action on people individually.
So, what is true of creation in Genesis 1:2? This is really the key verse that organizes the rest of the Creation account. God created the heavens and the earth.
The Earth is formless, empty and dark. This description is not good. And yet at the end of the creation account God sees all that He has done and declares it to be very good. Literally good good in the Hebrew.
It is through God speaking that all of that chaos is made good. That is what happens in creation. The connection to our lives personally is this: Every person is created by God and their lives are full of potential to honor God, to bring Him glory. But, every person’s life may also be formless and empty and dark!
- Life can be formless, empty and dark.
Life without understanding of purpose, direction, what is worth suffering for is extremely difficult and chaotic!
Purpose, meaning and impact in life, that is what I see as that which makes life worth living.
God gives Adam and Eve to each other.
Marriage, family, relationships in general, meaningful work, this is all a part of the blessing of God, which gives purpose, meaning and impact to life.
Family gives meaning to work.
Creativity and usefulness gives meaning to work.
- Light resolves uncertainty
People often suffer from a lack of certainty about their lives, what they should be and do, what we should strive to make out of the world that we live in. We can easily fall under the control of desire and spiral into greater darkness and chaos. The very things that God has given us to bless our lives can become corrupted. This is the impact of sin in our lives.
Lack of understanding or certainty is darkness. When it is dark and you are forced to move in the darkness, how do you feel? How do you move in that environment?
Often times when people are unsure of what to do, they rely on whatever they like, their pleasures. This is a short term way of thinking that often leads to more darkness.
- God speaks and creates everything good. Romans 8:28 Jesus is the Word of God. He reflects what God is like and He gives light.
In Genesis God speaks over a period of time creating light, form and fullness until all creation is Very Good! He will do this in our lives as well. He does this by speaking. That is revelation. He reveals what is good, what is God’s will for our lives. He speaks through Scripture, in His teaching and example. He speaks through other people. He speaks through the physical world and He speaks directly to us through the Holy Spirit.
When we respond by following what He reveals to us, we experience the good in our lives.
In Jesus was the light of all mankind. Verse 4. What does Jesus enlighten?
- Jesus Illuminates God Himself
18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
“If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”
“I and the Father are One.”
Before Abraham was, I AM.”
- Jesus illuminates God’s character: love, God’s mercy, God’s patience, God’s justice. Jesus demonstrates how to live in a manner that fulfills God’s will. Jesus demonstrates how to live among people who hate you and how to live with those that love you. He shows us to be serious about prayer and to live according to God’s Word.
- Jesus speaks and creates form and fullness
Ephesians 2:10 A special creation for a special purpose.
You personally are the workmanship of God. You are an expression of His creative vision!
The expression of God’s workmanship in you is your doing good works. This is function. And the endurance and love and wisdom that you gain from Christ is what your “form” is filled with. This will cause “you” to be the light of the world, a city set on a hill.
God’s purposes for you are more about how you live than what you do for a living. It is about how you are a spouse more than who you marry etc.
Example of Jesus’ parents:
Matthew 1: 18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
There is chaos in Joseph and Mary’s life. This story is from Joseph’s perspective. What is he to do? Mary will have difficulty convincing him that she has not been with another man! He must be heart broken.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
This is light from God. It is directly from God in this instance. It takes the chaos and dispels it. It give Joseph’s circumstances, which will add to the suffering in his life, purpose and meaning. It makes his life significant in terms of the kingdom of God.
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
It is the obedience of Joseph, combined with the light from Word of God that gives Joseph light and life.
- Jesus speaks light into your existence.
I John 1 light is related to how we live in a manner that is pleasing to God. To walk with God, in accordance with His character and will is to walk in the light. To sin is to walk in darkness.
Why would we walk in darkness? 1. Ignorance, we do not see God. 2. Sin in us: we fight against applying the truth of God in our lives. 3. Fear and unbelief overwhelm our thinking and we move to care for ourselves.
The most fundamental areas of light and life given by Jesus relate to relationships, especially the relationships inside of the home. Secondly, relationships at work and to the environment as it relates to work.
But the most fundamental relationship area that Jesus speaks to is our relationship to God. He is our Creator. He is our Word. His is our light. He is our life. Once we set the course of our relationship with God correctly, that will then give light and life to all of our other relationships.
III. The Point of Light is that You Might Have Life.
- Connection of light to life
I am no scientist and it’s been about 40 years since I had a biology class, but I know that without the light from the sun, there is no life. That is a physical truth. The metaphor holds true for our personal spiritual, mental and social selves!
John 10:10. Jesus came that we might have life. And have it more abundantly. (What does the word more imply?)
John 8:12 12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
I have never seen a marriage fail where the partners submitted to Jesus as their light of life! The same goes for people at work etc.
There is no more important piece of information than that Jesus is the light of the world and we are to follow His words!
I can’t think of more important information than this!!
- Salvation from sin is so you may live
Jesus is often presented to people as a Savior. And folks most often address Him as a Savior from the penalty of our sin. But there is no way to see Him as just that. He is also our Savior from the power of sin. He leads us into life so that we might live!
Wages of sin is death. But the free Gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God does not breathe into man the “breath of life” so that he might live forever in sin! Genesis 3 teaches us that!
22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
The consequence of sin is a full immersive experience into darkness, purposelessness and emptiness.
The Example of Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes:
Labor is meaningless
1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
3 What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?
Is this darkness? Is this purposelessness? Is this meaninglessness?
Education is meaningless:
12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
(It is amazing that this is the philosophical conclusion of much of the higher educational system in our day! They should have read this book! We did in high school!!)
Pleasure is meaningless:
2 I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless.
Accomplishment is meaningless:
4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
The result of not “walking in the light:”
His Dark, formless, emptiness problem:
17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.
That is the beginning of the book. At the end the preacher speaks a solution:
12:1 Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”—
9 Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
Why? Because God is the Creator, His Word gives light, meaning and purpose.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God, He gives light and life.
On the Mount of Transfiguration:
This is my Beloved Son, LISTEN TO HIM!! (Jesus is on the Mountain with Moses (the Law) and Elijah (the prophets). Listen to Jesus! He is greater than the law and the prophets. Why? Because He is God’s only begotten Son!!!
- We live when we fulfill God’s purposes for us
God’s purposes for you are not related to money, pleasure or personal success. Those things are good because God has made them so, but if God is not first in our priorities, then those other things will turn into areas of chaos, darkness, formlessness and emptiness.
So, Fear God and keep His Commands! Listen to Jesus as the revelation from God that gives light and life. When you do then this is true of you:
II Cor 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Ephesians 2: 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.