God’s holiness, beyond our comprehension, is expressed in terms of light. Verses like 1 John 1:5 say that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” 1 Timothy 6:16 says He dwells in unapproachable light.
Unapproachable, can’t get into it, it’s higher, purer, brighter, blinding, yet He wants us into it, into His incredible ‘light’ to enjoy the light of His glory. The psalmist says this is not impossible: “With You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light” (Psalm 36:9) and “The Lord is my light and my salvation” (Psalm 27:1).
What does this light from God do for us? How can we ‘see’ it? One way is through His Word. Again, the psalmist explains. He says the Word of God “is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105) and to God, “The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). Light comes from reading His book.
It also comes from looking at a Person. In the New Testament Jesus called Himself the “Light of the world” (John 8:12). He said, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness" (John 12:46).
God shone the glory of who He is to us through written words, then through the Living Word, His Son. Because of Jesus, we have opportunity to know Him, to experience His light.
Jesus was “a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32). John 1:4-5 says, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (This likely means: “the darkness did not overcome it.”)
In John’s Gospel, light is still about God’s holiness, but also about the revelation of his love in Christ and the brilliant shining of that love into lives darkened by sin.
I know what that means. The day that Jesus revealed Himself to me is vivid in my memory. It was the day that the light came on! The room I was in suddenly seemed flooded with it as I realized who He is and what He had done for me. As Ephesians 5:8-9 says, I was “once . . . full of darkness, but now . . . have light from the Lord.”
1 Peter 2:9 says God called me “out of darkness into His marvelous light” and 2 Corinthians 4:4 says He did it “by the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” How wonderful!
The Bible urges everyone to seek this light, but not everyone is interested. As Ephesians 5:13 says, “All things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.”
Even though the Bible makes this great promise of light from God and freedom from condemnation, not everyone wants their lives brought into its glare. So there is a dichotomy: “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:18-20).
I can understand this. Who hasn’t done things that they would prefer to keep in the dark? Yet verse 21 says, “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
The light of Christ changes my mind. More and more I am realizing that allowing His light to do its work produces a transparency that is not at all painful. Often I can admit my foolishness without feeling like I want to hide. This is because I know that open honesty is the quickest way to being forgiven, cleansed and transformed.
Light is a huge part of this new life in Christ. Philippians 2:14-15 tell me to “do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” and to let my light shine so people might see my good works and glorify my Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
After looking at all these verses about God being light, even unapproachable light, and Jesus declaring Himself the “light of the world,” today’s verse just about knocks me off my feet. Jesus’ claim as light of the world is one thing, but to turn and say to me, “You are the light of the world. . . .” is utterly and totally incredible, an awesome responsibility, a huge privilege and a mind-blowing grace.