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A Study of Christ - John 1:4
With this study, we continue our examination of the prologue of John's
John 1:4 - Life and Light
4In Him was life, and that life was the light
Thus far in this chapter, John has introduced Christ as the Word, as
God, and as Creator; in this verse, we see Christ as Life and Light. John
begins: "In Him was life." John goes further here than
in the previous verse. In verse 3, John spoke of Christ as creator: "Through
Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made."
In this verse, He is "life". To be a creator is one
thing; to impart life is much more. You and I can create, in some sense--works
of art, poetry, music, sculpture; magnificent towers, bridges; technological
wonders; etc.--but we are far from giving life. Oh, some arrogant men think
that they come close to being life-givers by programming up a computer to
imitate human thought, but they are deluding themselves if they think they
have a prayer of truly creating life or consciousness in any form. Only
through Christ is anything alive on this earth. "In Him was life."
Life is not inherent in creatures, but imparted by the power of Christ.
Our tent of flesh, bones, blood and muscle is as worthless as a sack of
sand without the God-given gift of life.
Life is the most important aspect of creation. It is life that distinguishes
the works of God from the works of man, and this fact applies not only to
physical life, but also to spiritual life. We have spoken of Christ's ability
to impart physical life, as Creator of the universe, but John is speaking
of more than physical life. Note that John does not say that life is "by"
Him, or "through" Him, but "in Him." Physical
life comes "through" Christ, but "in" Christ
we have spiritual life, resurrection life, eternal life, and life abundant.
Christ said: "The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they
are life" (John 6:63), and "I am the resurrection and the
life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies" (John
11:25), and "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and
only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal
life" (John 3:16), and "I am come that they might have
life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
Only Christ can bring forth physical life, and only Christ can bring forth
new life, life eternal. "In Him was life." Life: first
on this earth, then in the new heavens and new earth.
"In Him was life, and that life was the light of men." In
the Bible, "life" and "light" are often
associated. For instance:
The LORD is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The LORD is
the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps. 27:1)
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. (Ps.
For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections
of discipline are the way to life. (Pr. 6:23).
Christ Himself referred to Himself as light and life: "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'"
(John 8:12); "Jesus said to [Martha], `I am the resurrection
and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and
whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'"
(John 11:25-26). And so, it is appropriate for John here to associate
Christ's life with light: "...and that life was the light of men."
It is interesting to study how many qualities of light mirror qualities
* Light enables us to see, and Christ enables us to discern spiritual things.
* Light is pleasant, promoting peace of mind, and so the work of Christ
on the cross, reconciling us to God, gives us peace of mind.
* Light fills completely any void open to it, and so, if we empty our soul
to Christ, He who "fills everything in every way" (Eph.
1:23) will fill it.
* Light, especially bright light, is glorious; Christ is "the radiance
of God's glory" (Heb. 1:3).
* Light does not mix with darkness, but rather conquers it; Christ has conquered
the darkness of this evil world.
* Light warms the body; Christ warms the soul.
* Light makes clear the path; Christ, through His life, also made clear
the path we should follow.
* Light exposes; Christ, through His life, exposes the sin in our lives.
John here, when he says "...and that life was the light of men",
is primarily speaking of Christ's life as a spiritual light (drawing men
to God), and a moral light (showing men how to live). The spiritual light
that Christ provides draws men to God, leading them to salvation. Men are
incapable of knowing God and coming to God on their own. "The man
without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit
of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them,
because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). But through
the Spirit of God, giving us "the mind of Christ" (I Cor.
2:16), we can know God's glory, God's greatness and God's will. "For
God, who said, `Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in
our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in
the face of Christ" (II Cor. 4:6).
The moral light provided by Christ shows men how they should live. Christ
through His life is our example of a life lived in total obedience to God.
No one else has lived up to the standard that Christ set. His life is the
supreme example concerning how we should live. Also, Christ is a moral light
to us in that through His teachings, He gave us the internal requirements
of the law. The Law of Moses commands us not to murder (a command concerning
external actions); Christ expands on this and says: "But I tell
you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment"
(Matt. 5:22). The Law of Moses commands us not to commit adultery (a
command concerning external actions); Christ expands on this and says: "But
I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed
adultery with her in his heart" (Matt. 5:28). So Christ, as a moral
light, teaches us the internal implications of the external requirements
of the law.
Note that Christ's life was "the light of men." Mankind
is unique among the creatures of the earth in that he has been blessed by
God with the spiritual and moral light of Christ. Man's dominion on earth
is due to this light. Mankind's achievements on earth, far above the achievements
of any other species on earth, are due to this light. Likewise, the failures
of mankind--the evils perpetrated by men upon men--are due to the rejection
by men of this light. "This is the verdict: Light has come into
the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were
evil" (John 3:19).
Father, we thank You for this light. May we be guided by this light. Open
our hearts to the light of Christ so that we may know You, commune with
You, and live in obedience to You, serving You with all of our lives. May
Your light shine on all men, and Your glory be evident to all. In the name
of Christ, who is "the light of the world", we pray these
(Due to a special issue next month, our study of John's Prologue
will continue in two months.)
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