The Life, The Light Of Men
4ejn aujtw'/ zwh; h\n, kai; hJ zwh; h\n to; fw'" tw'n ajnqrwvpwn:
4In him was life; and the life was the light of men
In this verse are two statements and two principal values that arrest the attention of the reader: “The person and the proclamation”.
As to the Person referred to here, He is the man whom many first century people saw, and were familiar with. The Person is first mentioned by named in the account of the John the baptizer, in which the writer declares, John 1:29
29The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
This statement is an interesting
introduction, revealing as it does the human personality of the man of
Jesus, Who during His ministry, wrought miracles and uttered words of astounding meaning, who was brutally murdered, but by resurrection from the dead, gave the company of His disciples new understanding regarding His life and the nature of His death. 1 Peter 1:3 - “The Person of our text”
And this leads us to the proclamation of our text “4In him was life;” This is a most amazing statement and can only be interpreted by the opening words of John ¾
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
With this clear declaration of the pre-existence of Christ, John begins his book. Notice that he does not call Him "Jesus" at this point, but "the Word" , His name for the Second Person of the Godhead in His pre-existent state, He Who became Jesus of Nazareth.
He was equal with God (Phil. 2:6), because He was God. John 1:1 says so. He was not the Father, but He was God, He was Deity, which is what the word God signifies. Because He is God He is eternal, no beginning no end, He does not dwell in time as do we. Eternity, (a concept impossible for us to grasp). John 1:3-4
“All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. 4In him was life;” Not one thing created without Him Who was the instrument of the creation. Life begets Life, all life originates from Him.
The second part of the statement “and the life was the light of men” John 1:4--- He is the desperately-needed light in a world engulfed in darkness and moral decay. Christ declared " I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)
Here with eyes fixed upon the Person of Jesus we read ¾ John 1:6-14
“There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. 7The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. 9There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. 11He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. 12But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth”.
It is declared that by the coming of this One True Light, every man has light. Paul writing to Timothy states is thus:
“but hath now been manifested by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”, 2 Timothy 1:10
Not only the whole of His life, but the whole of His teachings attest to the fact of His deepest trust and devotion to His heavenly Father. We may gather up into one brief sentence His whole message to man about our relationship to the Father,
“Seek ye first
These are the words of the Him Who is Light
and Who lights everyone coming into the world. I look at Him I say "You are the one in
Whom I find perfection, Your life
is the explanation of what my life
And when I would learn the secret of that Life He says to me "33Seek ye first the
The master passion of His life was the will of God, the whole of it, communion, and fellowship with the Father.
The Bible is replete with admonitions for us to be imitators of Christ. I read for your admonition a verse taken from Paul the apostle in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be ye followers of me, even as I am also of Christ”
This of course the reading taken from the King James' or Authorized Version. The Greek text when rendered word for word would read thus: Imitators of me be ye becoming, according as also I of Christ. The word imitator literally translates the Greek term used by inspiration [mimhthv"] (mimētēs)
The word imitator is a stronger, more comprehensive term that follower. A follower is one who attaches himself to an other or to his opinions. The word imitator includes all that is involved in a follower but more, to pattern one's life after the one to be imitated. They thus become our pattern. I follow the leadership of my manager at work, but would not subscribe to his manner of life. The words of Paul were penned in recognition of a universal need that all humanity has, we are so constituted as to need a pattern, a model or guide in about all we undertake. “Be ye followers of me, even as I am also of Christ.”
Please observe that Paul did not lay down a blanket proposition applicable to any and all circumstances. He did not say, "Brethren be ye follows and imitate me in all my actions." No Paul was exceedingly careful to point to himself as a pattern only insofar as he had succeeded in transcribing into his own life the characteristics and image of the Life of Christ. In effect Paul set Christ forth before them as their ultimate example and Divine pattern.
And this is precisely what Peter did as well. 1 Peter 2:21 – “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, [uJpogrammov"] that ye should follow his steps: The word example in our text is from [uJpogrammov"], is of interesting origin, and its etymology, sheds much light on the significance of the English word used.
It is made up of a compound word [grammov"] a writing and [uJpo] a preposition meaning under. Literally to write under. Dictionaries render this information ¾ "a copy to write after", and metaphorically, "an example for imitation." to write under, to copy and here figuratively, a pattern or model for imitation. Hence “Be ye followers [imitators] of me, even as I am also of Christ”
Whenever I come into the presence of the example of Christ I tremble. When I put my life by the side of how He lived. I discover there what was in the heart of God when He said "Let us make man in Our image." In His words I hear ¾ "Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.", in His life I see that ¾ But in my life I see failure and sin. What is the solution?
Well we must begin where the New Testament begins, and presented there to our view, is the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the Christ, or to give Him the full and dignified title due “The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. What is this Person according to the New Testament teachings? “Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:29) -- “He was manifested to take away sins; to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:5-8). I read from the Old Testament "By His stripes we are healed. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him."
That prophetic word was carried out to the letter in the person and life of Christ. I turn to the New Testament and read Hebrew writer Ch 9, beginning verse 24 (Hebrews 9:24-26)
“For Christ entered not into a holy place made with hands, like in pattern to the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us: 25nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place year by year with blood not his own; 26else must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once at the end of the ages hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself”.
I look at Jesus, I see a life, “A Sacrifice, I see an example, and I see a Savior” He all sufficient for the task of saving? Here I take one brief and all inclusive declaration from the writer of the Hebrew letter. Hebrews 7:23-25
“And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 24But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them”..
Please allow me to take one brief minute of your time with this reading. In verse 25, with three terms of this declaration. "To Save" what does it mean? I was very interested in looking up to find the Greek word [swzw] is translated in different ways, ¾ “to heal, to preserve, to save so as to render safe”. These translations are interesting because all the thoughts suggested by them lie in this great word "he is able to save to the uttermost"
He is able to heal. Is that marvelous? What more is needed today, than healing in this sin sick society. Sin diseases, Jesus comes with healing in His wings.
Then He is able to preserve. I would like to be faithful, but if I start I am afraid that I cannot hold out ¾ The answer is "he is able to preserve." The responsibility then that I have is that of coming to Christ, maintaining the right attitude of faith and repentance. These conditions being fulfilled . He Is Able To Preserve. Hear the beloved apostle ¾ 1 John 1:6-7
“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
He is able "to save " It is a great and gracious word. Do not drop it from your vocabulary. "He is able to save" It begins where our need begins, it continues with the continuity of that need, with preservation “and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” The Greek verb cleanseth, is present active meaning, He “Continues To Cleanse Heal & Preserve”
Take the next term ¾ "to the uttermost." This great Greek word appears only twice in the New Testament. It signifies to the fullest measure, the furthest extent. It occurs in the wonderful story of the woman who was bent so that she could not straighten herself up (Luke 13:11) . She walked doubled up with infirmity. He is able to save to the uttermost. Sin has crippled humanity, spiritually he is unable to walk upright, Jesus is able to save to the uttermost. This is one of the great words in the New Testament.
Tarry with me one moment longer "He is able" The Greek word from which we have derived our word "dynamic" is here. In the case of the woman who touched His garment Jesus said "Who touched me, for virtue has gone out of Me." That is the word dynamite, Jesus is powerful to save; He is able to heal, to preserve to set right and present you faultless before the throne.
What are the conditions upon which He saves? Hebrews 7:25 “Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him”. On one occasion Jesus made this statement “ (John 6:44-45)
44No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. 45It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me..
We draw near the Father by hearing and learning of Christ.
Beloved the goal? Draw near God. The way? Through Christ. We began in the 1st chapter of John ¾ hear my final word John 1:10-13
10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
You must become children of God . How do we do it? We are born again ¾ not of men , not of flesh, but by the will of God. Gal 3:26-27
In Him was life and the Life was the Light of men……
Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ