The Witness of the Light
Text: John 1:6-9
Let me once again remind you that the writer of this gospel, the beloved disciple John, is making a case for the identity of Christ, more so than the historicity of Christ. It’s not just the observations of a historian, he is trying to persuade us to believe in the Son of God.
So his opening lines are essentially answering the questions we might ask one another upon our first meeting. What’s your name? (The Word) Where are you from? (In the beginning) What do you do? (I give life where there is no life, and I give light where there’s only darkness)
If v1-5 give us insight into the Forerunner of Creation, v6 introduces us to the Forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist. And here the record begins to account the historical background to the coming Christ. Christianity isn’t just a philosophy and worldview, it is historical fact, and while John is focusing on the person of Christ, the truth of the person and work of Christ is framed in real history. God didn’t just send down an idea out of heaven. He stepped out of Heaven and into time to become, Emmanuel.
But the question is, why? Why did the Word, the Son of God, step into time? Was it to give us a love story? Was it to address our morals? Was it to end world hunger? Was it to spread education? Was it to preserve the earth? Why? Why did the Son of God step into time? Well we’re going to see why in this text v9 – he came to give light to all who come into this world.
witness = x14 in John, so it’s one of the themes of the book, designed to validate the claim of Jesus as the Son of God. John gives witnesses to testify of the truths he presents about Christ. Jn 8:18 – Father, The Spirit – 15:26, Himself – 8:14,
His works – 10:25, The Scriptures – 5:39, Woman of Samaria – 4:29, Blind man – 9:25, Disciples – 15:27, The People – 12:17, and of course John the Baptist.
I. HIS DIVINE AUTHORITY – v6 “sent from God”
John = gift of God. And that’s what he was. A gift from God to bear witness to the gift of God. A witness to Israel of the Christ. John is mentioned in all gospels. The others focus on his ministry among people, but John puts emphasis on his witness to Jesus, because he John revealed who Jesus really was in His person as the Son of God, and that’s the writer’s focus.
One interesting observation is that while the synoptics refer to him as John the Baptist, John only refers to him as John. Probably because he makes no mention of himself, so it’s not necessary to be any more specific.
And he was a sent man. Just like Jesus Christ himself, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world…” Jn 3:17
“What is asserted about John is required in all the teachers of the Church, that they be called by God; so that the authority of teaching may not be founded on any other than on God alone.” John Calvin
He was a burning and a shine light according to Christ. And many of his disciples under his ministry, became followers of Christ. They saw the light through his life and message, and recognized the identity of Jesus when He appeared on the scene. Jesus said, “Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist” Lk 7:28
II. HIS DIVINE APPOINTMENT – v7 “to bear witness of the Light”
We are called to tell others about the Lord Jesus Christ. That doesn’t mean we have to stand on the street corner, or declare it as a prophet like John the Baptist, but we are to publicize the Saviour. ‘bear witness’ comes from the greek word where we get the term ‘martyr’. And while the term now means someone who is killed for their beliefs, in the NT it shows the spirit of one who is willing to be killed for their beliefs.
Now is that us? Or are we so afraid we can’t remember the last time we bore witness to Christ? I want to challenge you to pray that this week you get the opportunity to speak to one person about the Lord Jesus Christ. I’ve had to rebuke myself this week. I walked away from a conversation realizing that all I dud was bear witness that I’m the new pastor. But that’s not my duty. I’m to bare witness of Christ. Jn 1:32-34
If people don’t see the Light in you, you don’t have the Light. If they don’t see Christ in your life you don’t have Christ in your life. We are to bear witness to it.
With regard to John, what a witness to the Light he was. Jn 10:41-42 “John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. And many believed on him there.”
And that’s encouraging. We can’t do miracles, and we’re not called to do them either. But we are called to bear witness to the light. The labour of witnessing did not die with John and the apostles. “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” John 17:18
III. HIS DIVINE ATTITUDE – v8 “He was not that Light…”
John was not an obscure preacher. In the short time of ministry God gave him, he garnered a large following and multitudes left the comfort of their communities to go into the wilderness to hear him preach. There was a magnetism about John that drew people.
And there’s nothing wrong with popularity in the right sense. There’s no piety in obscurity. But we must keep things in perspective and realize as John did, “He was not that Light”. We are to direct people away from ourselves.
The truth is not our testimony of our experience. We can share our testimony for sure, but our experience is not proof of the truth. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” Rev 12:11. The word of their testimony was not their story, it is scripture. It is the declaration of truth.
You’ll get different religions, social groups, and false churches speaking of changed lives. Mormonism might clean up your life, but it’s not the truth. We must bear witness to the Light. To the truth as it is in Christ. The treasure is not the earthen vessel. The treasure is IN the earthen vessel. We are not the focus.
In practical terms, this means we give God glory for everything. If we have talent in an area and someone praises it, we can say ‘thank you, the Lord helps me’. If we have customers who are happy, we can say ‘I’m so glad you like it, you’ve no idea how much I prayed for help’. In these ways, we remove attention from us and present subtle direction towards the Lord.
VI. HIS DIVINE AIM – v7b “that all men through him might believe”
It’s not about ticking a box, saying something and feeling better because we witnessed. We need to have a burning passion that they believe. Our heart needs to break. Our souls need to yearn. “It is the only happy life to live for the salvation of souls.” — D. L. Moody
v9 Summarizes this thought of bringing men to the truth. Jesus Christ is the light that lighteth every man, i.e. leaves every man without excuse.
The idea of ‘true in this text doesn’t just mean without falsehood, error, or blemish. It’s used this way in Jn 4:23 ‘true worshippers’. No doubt it can be understood that way in part. But it’s more than that.
John is using the word true in the sense of being ultimate, e.g. in 6:32 he refers to himself as the true bread.
That’s not to say the manna God gave to Israel wasn’t true, but Christ is the ultimate bread. The fulfillment of what the manna represented.
So while the light at Creation was true and genuine, Christ is the ultimate depiction of light. He is therefore the true Light.
There are a lot of lights in the world. But the great need is to see the true Light. And in order to do this, God didn’t reform the government, or elect a president, or set up a society, or grant world peace… he sent a man. A man, who in the midst of a broken and fallen world, pointed men to the true Light.
And that’s your duty, Christian. God sent John to Israel, He has sent me to Calgary to bear witness to that Light. But in a less official, but no less important sense, we have all been sent. We have a Great Commission, and in some sense we’re all to ‘go’.
Close – to you without Christ. It’s time to admit you’re broken, you’re fallen, and you’re guilty. And it’s not a psychologist you need, or a change of career, or a new house. You need the true Light. While you are without the Light, you are in darkness. You are a child of darkness. And if you die in your present condition you will go to the place Jesus called hell, and the Bible describes as a place of outer darkness. So I invite you to embrace the Light.
Without the cleansing of His blood, what will God do with your sin? Look at what God sent John to do…that you might believe. Is it not time to believe? Is it not your time to believe? Is God speaking? Have you a sense of uncertainty about eternity? Then believe my friend, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Believe in the true Light.