In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it . . . He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him (John 1:4, 5, 10, 11, NIV).Here we see the universal light that lights every man that comes into the world. Here we see the rejected light that world would not receive.
If you've ever traveled through the tobacco-growing regions, you've seen the little buildings in which they grade the leaves of tobacco. They are all situated so that their windows face north. Before the advent of the fluorescent tube, the only true light was the north light. The delicate shades of color could not be distinguished in any light except that true light. Before the fluorescent tube, diamonds were always judged by light that came from a window facing the north. Only the true light could show the color and clarity without distortion.
Christ is the light of the world. He is the true light. Other lights shine in the world, but they are not the true light. There is the light that comes to us from the book of knowledge. We would not want to be without that light. It blesses us and helps us in many ways. But that is a light that is continually changing. If you have an encyclopedia that is twenty years old, it's out of date. If you have a science book that is ten years old, it's out of date. If you have a computer book that is five years old, it's out of date. We have to keep revising the book of knowledge and updating it. It is not the true light.
Logic is not the true light. If you live your life by logic, you'll never be happy. You'll never know love. You'll never give anything to anybody. You'll never know kindness or generosity. There is no logic in these deeds. He who lives life simply by logic finds life to be barren and sterile. Logic is not a true light.
The example of others is not a true light.
There are good people who will set a good example all of their lives and
then in one single moment they will set a bad example. If all you
have to follow is human example, you will find it unreliable.
We need the true light; the light that never flickers. Have you ever tried to read a newspaper by the flashing light of a neon sign? Off. On. Off. On. It's a very frustrating thing. But Christ offers a light that never flickers. His is a light that never fails. It doesn't just shine for a while and then disappear. It doesn't grow dimmer and dimmer. Indeed, it's quite the opposite. It grows brighter and brighter. His is a light that never distorts. It shows things as they truly are. It shows the real colors of life.
In Fort Myers, Florida you can see the home of Thomas Alva Edison. Depicted there is the long struggle that brought at last the incandescent bulb and electric light to the world. How hard he had to work! How long he had to persevere! How great were the difficulties! But he kept at it until the job was done.
The search that we make for the true spiritual light is equally long and difficult. When we find that true light we rejoice in the light.
The light is the life of men. It's the true light. It's the light that lights every person who comes into the world. It's the universal light: a light for all people, kindreds, tongues, and nations. Whatever the land of their origin, whatever the language they speak, whatever the shade of their skin, whatever the cultures or customs with which they are familiar, whatever the structure of the body or the face, they need the true light. It is not enough to give them the sayings of Confucius, the statues of Buddha, the idols of Hinduism, the shrines of Shintoism, or the scrolls of Judaism. They must have more than that. On whatever continent or island they live, they need Jesus, the light of the world!
A lot of people don't believe that! We won't argue with them. They can take their argument up with Jesus, who said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." He is the light that lights every man who comes into the world. He is the universal light.
It's a light for all persons. It's a light for all situations. What is your situation today? Is it a time of success or a time of failure? Is it a time of abundance or a time of want? Is it a time of health or a time of illness? Is it a time of joy or a time of sorrow? Is it a time when you're weighed down by sin or is it a time when you are challenged by holy ideals? What is the situation of your life? Whatever it is, Jesus brings light to your situation. He may not take you out of it, but He will give you the light that you may see your way through it. No light shines farther and no light travels faster.
Light is infinite in its scope. It's the ultimate. There is nothing like it. It reaches out as far as the mind of man can reach. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second! That's faster than our fastest jet! That's faster than our mightiest rocket!
We know of nothing that travels as fast as light, except Jesus, the light of the world. All you have to do is pray and He is there. Seek His name and He is present. Invoke His power and you have it.
Nothing travels faster than light. Nothing travels farther than light. If you were to measure the distance of the twenty nearest stars (not counting our sun), they are only twelve light-years away. You take the distance light travels in a second, then multiply it by the number of seconds in a year. Twelve times the distance light travels in a year is the distance of some of the closest stars. If one of them went out tonight, you'd notice it in about twelve years. Those are the near neighbors. Out on the fringes of the universe there are stars that are 6,000,000,000 light-years away.
From beyond the farthest fringe of the universe Jesus comes! Into our universe! Into our solar system! Unto our earth! Into our lives! None travels faster and none travels farther.
Yet we regard light as such a commonplace thing. And we take Jesus, the light of the world, so much for granted. But when we talk about light and when we talk about Christ, we are talking about the two ultimates of our knowledge. The ultimate of the material universe and the ultimate in spiritual understanding!
Light is the ultimate in life itself. Without light there is no life. It is the ultimate in speed and power. Christ is 'the ultimate' spiritually.
Light is the ultimate in beauty. The Dutch artists were the first to try to put light on canvas. They tried to paint so the light seemed to come from within the painting itself. They were masters at it. It is thought that they developed it because the light shines so peculiarly in Holland. Surrounded by the sea, almost always covered by a mass of clouds, the light filters through and shines in a very striking and unique way that is not the same anywhere else on earth. Seeing that beauty, those Dutch artists tried to capture it and put on canvas the beauty of light.
Jesus, the light of the world, shines in the splendor of His glory and His beauty.
Light purifies. Before we had all our modern germ-killers the only way to purify a thing was to hang it out in the sunlight. That's why we sing, "Walking in Sunlight" and "Stepping in the Light."
Light is our security. That's why we light our streets and our homes.
Light cheers us. That's universal. When the sun shines people feel better. When there are weeks without sun they get depressed.
Jesus cheers us. The Bible says, "The disciples were glad when they saw the Lord." Jesus said, "Be of good cheer."
Light cures us. Now the laser, a beam of light, has become the newest surgical tool of modern medicine. "In him was light and the light was the life of men."
Light to purify. Light to give us security. Light to cheer us. Light to cure us.
Now here's something very surprising! Some reject the light! They reject its cheer. They reject its protection. They reject its purification. They reject its power. There are some who reject the light!
Some of them reject it because they cannot agree on the nature of Jesus. As scientists once argued over the nature of light, so people argue now over the nature of Jesus. Once people said light was made up of particles. Other people said light was made up of waves. The battle raged until now it is admitted that light has some of the properties of each.
So people argue over Jesus. They ask, "Who is He? Is He man or Messiah? Is He human or divine? Is He teacher or Lord? Is He son of man or Son of God?"
The light is rejected in spite of the fact that the psalmist said, "The Lord is my light and my salvation." The light is rejected in spite of the fact that the prophet said, "The Lord shall be for you an everlasting light." The light is rejected in spite of the fact that Jesus, for His text in His hometown of Nazareth, chose a verse from Isaiah that said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me . . . [to preach] the recovering of sight to the blind" (Luke 4:18).
John continues this theme, "Jesus the Light." He begins in chapter 1. In chapter 8, verse 12 he quotes Jesus, "I am the light of the world." Notice the universal side to that! "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness." Again in chapter 9, verse 5, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
Again in chapter 12, verse 36, "While ye have light, believe in the light that ye may be the children of light." The saddest of all is in chapter 3, verse 20, "For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."
That's why men reject the light. That's why they turn to darkness. Their deeds are evil and they do not want them reproved!
I learned in Africa that when you go as a guest to a mission station, the first question you ask is, "What time does the generator go off?" Because at some predetermined time in the evening every light is going to go out. When it goes out it is not going to come on again until darkness falls the following evening. You don't want to be in the middle of something that you can't finish in the dark.
We need the light and we cherish the light, unless our deeds are evil. Then we shun the light and we cherish the darkness. The history of man's search for light is long. He began depending solely on daylight and when darkness fell, he could no longer work. Then man discovered fire. He could bring that flickering light into his cave. Then he devised the candle. After that, the lamp. Finally, electricity and the incandescent light. Then the neon lamp. Then the fluorescent light. Now fiber optics can carry your telephone message on a beam of light. Lasers can do surgery with a beam of light. Who would want to abandon all of that and go back to a firelight flickering in a cave or only to the light of day?
Yet men do turn back to darkness and turn away from the light. They say that the darkness is fine for them. Well, that may be all right for the way they live, but it's not going to be all right when they die. They're going to cry out with the dying German poet Goethe, "Light. More light."
That's what we need for life. That's what we need for death. And that's what we can have in eternity.
We know him as O. Henry. His real name was William Sydney Porter. When he lay dying, he called out to his nurse, "Pull up the shades, Mary. I'm afraid to go home in the dark."
Are you going to go home in the dark or in the light?