A Biblical Theology of Light: Light Has Come Into The World

lightWe are born in darkness and sin. From birth we are spiritually dead, spiritually blind, and spiritually desperate. But God, in His grace and love, had a plan to rescue a people for himself. This rescue is described, in the New Testament, in terms of light invading the darkness. This metaphor is a powerful call to hope in the complete saving work of Christ.

John describes it most poetically. He writes:

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)

The true light, he says, has come into the world (v. 9) and this true light shatters the darkness. Jesus is the “light of the world” (John 8:12). The rescue kicks in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome Him. It is forced to flee. It is forced to run away and hide. Darkness cannot endure in the presence of the light. Elsewhere this theme is further developed as Paul describes salvation as a transfer from “the kingdom of darkness” into the Kingdom of the beloved Son, the one who is Himself light (Col. 1:13). Greg Boyd further elucidates this salvation drama as a spiritual conflict between light and darkness. He writes:

As is well known, John heavily employs the apocalyptic use of light as a metaphor for God or God’s kingdom and darkness as a metaphor for Satan or Satan’s kingdom. John is setting up the theme of Jesus’ ministry by stating that it most fundamentally constituted a conflict between the kingdom of light and the kingdom darkness. As in Genesis 1 (which a majority of scholars believe is in the background here), the light shines against the darkness, and the darkness cannot overtake it. John is summarizing Jesus’ ministry as an ongoing warfare between light and darkness (a depiction that agrees perfectly with what we have found in the Synoptics). (God at War, 228)

Salvation is viewed in terms of the intrusion of light into this darkened world. It is a most welcomed intrusion.

Thinking of the rescue mission of God in terms of invading light is a powerful illustration of the saving work of Christ. Think of the idea of “blinding light.” Imagine having been stuck in a pitch black room for hours, days, and then stepping outside into the brightness of noonday sunlight. Recall that eye exam where the doctor has to give you sunglasses in order to release out into the light of the day. The overwhelming brightness of light in those moments is a perfect metaphor for the intrusion of Jesus Christ into this world. When the spotlight of God’s rescue hits the world darkness cannot survive. It cannot overwhelm the light, but rather the light forces the darkness to flee. It reminds us well of John’s words that “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). The metaphors of light and darkness work so well to communicate the uncompromising, unflinching, all-consuming power of Christ to save! No darkness can overcome light. No darkness can survive the intrusion of light. No darkness will withstand the awesome power of the “light of the world.” Jesus saves completely and fully.

The believer has, then, no need to fear the darkness. There is no doubt that in a sense of the phrase we live in “dark times.” The persecution of believers is overwhelmingly present. Darkness seems, at times to be winning. Yet, here is the testimony of the Scriptures: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The believer need not fear the darkness. The darkness cannot win. Christ invaded the darkness, and like a warrior of light he punches it until it all bleeds daylight. Paul’s words to the Romans are an encouragement to me this morning. He writes:

The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:12)

If we are in Christ, we have nothing to fear. Though it may seem at times like the darkness is winning the truth is far from what it appears. The day is at hand! Christ has conquered the darkness. “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). We may hope in this light which has come into the world and has pierced the darkness forever!

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