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The Word–Jn. 1:9 [5]

The Word–Jn. 1:9 [5]

That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”

We have learnt previously that John the Baptist was a witness to the light, just as the moon reflects the sun John was but a faint reflection of the true light. This verse is like the dawning of a new day as rays of sunlight stream into the world. We learn that Christ is greater and brighter than every other man and past revelation. Every witness prior to the coming of the Lord was partial and fragmentary. The expression “true” here is used of what is ultimate, final and complete. Everything else was a shadow but Christ is the substance.

John the Baptist came preaching repentance, but repentance alone could not save the people. Christ had to come as the object of faith in order for people to believe in him. John cried “repent” (Mt 3:3) but Christ cried “repent, and believe in the gospel” (NKJV, Mk 1:15). John was the forerunner but Christ the Messiah. John prepared the way of the Lord to the hearts of the people (Lk 3:4-5) but it was only the Lord that could change the heart. John baptised with water, but said “one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Lk 3:16). John was a light, but Christ was the true light. John was the greatest prophet born of women (Lk7:28), but pales in comparison to the supremacy of Christ.

The Word here is viewed as light coming into the world and shedding light upon men. This verse reads better when translated “the true light was that which, coming into the world, lightens every man” (DBY).  It is not that every man possesses inner light when he is born, but rather it is Christ that provides light for all as he is coming into the world. God in his grace has mounted a rescue mission and shone into human history. We could not find him, but he has found us. Paul echoes this point by saying “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6).

The present continuous tense of the light coming into the world could indicate the revelation of God through Christ before the incarnation. Whether it was the Spirit of Christ speaking through the prophets regarding salvation (1 Pet 1:10-11) or the daily witness of creation (Psa 19:2), God has consistently and regularly spoken to men. The phrase includes the incarnation but could well be wider than it too. Christ is often spoken of as coming into the world in John’s gospel, it reminds us of the nearness, earnestness and constancy with which God has spoken to this world:

the bread of God … coming down out of the heaven, and giving life to the world” (YLT, Jn. 6:33)

this is truly the Prophet, who is coming to the world” (YLT, Jn. 6:14)

the Son of God, who is coming to the world” (YLT, Jn. 11:27)

The fact that the Lord Jesus is described as shedding light on every man reminds us of the scope and availability of salvation. There is potential for every person to be saved because the Light of the world has come. John presents a global Saviour in his gospel. Time and again he speaks in universal and inclusive terms, reminding us that none are excluded from God’s revelation. The dimensions of God’s salvation are limitless and are repeated throughout the gospel:

Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3: 16)

If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (Jn. 7:37)

Though many reject him, may we who are children of the light (Eph 5:8) rejoice again in Christ this morning as we remember one who has rescued us from eternal darkness and called us into his marvellous light (1 Pet 2:9).

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