“In Him was life and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness apprehended it not.” (John 1:4, 5 R.V.) The marginal rendering, “overcame,” gives us the exact meaning of the text and conveys a message of great comfort to the believer. Let us see what it is.
Christ is the light of the world. (See John 8:12.) But His light is His life, as the text quoted states. He says, “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.” The whole world was in the darkness of sin. This darkness was due to lack of knowledge of God as the apostle Paul says that the Gentiles are “darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them because of the hardening of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:18, R.V.)
Satan, the ruler of the darkness of this world, had done his utmost to deceive men as to the true character of God. He had made the world believe that God was like men—cruel, vindictive and passionate. Even the Jews, the people whom God had chosen to be the bearers of His light to the world, had departed from God and while professedly separate from the heathen, were enveloped in heathen darkness. Then Christ came, and “The people which sat in darkness saw a great light, and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, to them did light spring up.” (Matthew 4:16, R.V.) His name was Emanuel, God with us. “God was in Christ.” God refuted the falsehoods of Satan, not by loud arguments, but simply by living His life among men so that all might see it. He demonstrated the power of the life of God and the possibility of its being manifested in men.
The life which Christ lived was untainted by sin. Satan exerted all his powerful arts, yet he could not affect that spotless life. Its light always shone with unwavering brilliancy. Because Satan could not produce the least shadow of sin in the life, he could not bring it within his power, that of the grave. No one could take Christ’s life from Him; He voluntarily laid it down. And for the same reason, when He had laid it down, Satan could not prevent Him from taking it up again. Said He, “I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” (John 10:17, 18) To the same intent are the words of the apostle Peter concerning CHRIST: “Whom God hath raised up having loosed the pains of death; because it was not possible that He should be holden of it.” (Acts 2:24) Thus was demonstrated the right of the Lord Jesus Christ to be made a high priest “after the power of an endless life.” (Hebrews 7:16)
This endless, spotless life Christ gives to all who believe on Him. “As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:2, 3) Christ dwells in the hearts of all those who believe on Him. “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20. See also Ephesians 3:16, 17)
Christ, the Light of the world, dwelling in the hearts of His followers, constitutes them the light of the world. Their light comes not from themselves but from Christ, who dwells in them. Their life is not from themselves, but it is the life of Christ manifest in their mortal flesh. (See 2 Corinthians 4:11.) This is what it is to live “a Christian life.”
The living light comes from God in a never-failing stream. The psalmist exclaims: “For with thee is the foundation of life; in thy light shall we see light.” (Psalm 36:9) “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Revelation 22:1) “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)
“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:53, 54) This life of Christ we eat and drink by feasting upon his word, for He added, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (Verse 63) Christ dwells in His inspired word, and through it we get His life. This life is given freely to all who will receive it, as we read above; and again we read that Jesus stood and cried, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.”(John 7:37)
This life is the Christian’s light, and it is that which makes him a light to others. It is his life; and the blessed comfort to him is that no matter how great the darkness through which he has to pass, no darkness has power to put out that light. That light of life is his as long as he exercises faith, and the darkness cannot affect it. Let all, therefore, who profess the name of the Lord have the confidence that can say, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.” (Micah 7:8) ?
(This article was first printed in the October 15,1892 issue of the Bible Echo. It is also found on pages 72-74 of the book Lessons on Faith, by A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner. Editor)