Illumination. Revelation. Goodness. Purity. Glory
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
- Matthew 5:14
L i g h t .
It’s SO IMPORTANT to understand how the Bible uses the word “light”.
I’ve said it before, but in case you're new around here, I’m an unapologetic word-nerd. Jesus wooed this geeky English major to himself through the glorious beauty of his Book. All of the imagery, the poetry, the gritty characters, the messy graphic stories—these are the ways God drew me into his book. And, I have never put it down. So, that’s my quick backstory to help you know that I am passionately, drop-dead serious when I say you’ve gotta understand the use of “light” imagery if you’re gonna get the sheer beauty and shocking implications of this month’s verse.
Like that good Junior English teacher (the one that even the bad kids love) I promise to keep it fun if you promise to keep up. There is so much treasure here for us. But, I’m not gonna bore you with all of it. I’m just gonna bring out the brightest gems for you to marvel at. So, hang on tight. It’s gonna come fast at ya!
Before we really start moving though, I just want to point out that we modern people use light symbolically all the time. We see the “light at the end of the tunnel”, when we find hope in a difficult situation. The “lightbulb comes on” when we understand a hard concept. Something that’s “brought into the light” has been revealed. Both heavy sleepers and heavy-weight fighters can be “out like a light”. See what I’m getting at?
So, how does the Bible use the concept of light?
First off, “light” imagery is all over the Bible. I couldn’t even begin to scratch the surface. So, let me just give you an overview. “Light” symbolizes that which is right, true, wise, hopeful, excellent, or complete. “Light” also describes full intellectual comprehension, complete moral purity, and spiritual enlightenment. “Light” represents the ultimate good that overcomes the “darkness” or evil in the world. And finally, as you might know or have guessed by now, the absolute culmination of “light” imagery in the Bible is God himself. God is Light, and in him is no darkness at all (1 Jn. 1:5). His every word is light (Ps. 119:105). And, at the end of all time, we won’t need the sun, for God himself will be our light.
But it gets even crazier!
Jesus came into the world as the true light that gives light to everyone (Jn 1:9). His light—his goodness, purity, truth, wisdom, excellence, his very glory—shines in our hearts when we put our faith in him. Which brings us, finally, to our own sweet verse. Jesus tells us, “You (and I) are the light of the world.” Oh friends, do you see it, do you see the sweeping beauty of it all? The God of the universe, the one who spoke light into being, that same God has put his light inside us. And, he says, it’s not just for you to keep for yourself. It’s for all the people around you. He has called us to be light in the darkness of our broken world, in our own little spheres. It’s just too good.
More of that next week.
But, for now, just sit here a minute and let it sink in deep. How might knowing all of this, change you, change your too-small perspective of your life, give significance, joy, and hope in the dark places that you know, even the ones inside of you?
Whew. I know that was a LOT. But, isn’t it amazing? Wasn’t it worth the lesson Biblical symbolism to know all of that? I hope you will start to “see the light” that penetrates the Bible and begin to be that light to those around you.
How will you let the sweeping beauty of these concepts penetrate into your soul?
How do you see the light of Jesus at work in your own life?
How is your perspective of your own life "too small"?