Time and again we are reminded that context is king – Yes, indeed for understanding the Scriptures, but there is another aspect of context that is seldom appreciated; that is the context of passages and their connections in different books of the Bible. It is helpful for us to understand the relationships between these passages, some of which are set out below. They have been extracted from Genesis, Isaiah, Psalms, The Gospel of John, The Gospel of Luke and the First Epistle of John.
My subject today is, ‘A Light to the Gentiles’. There are at least three aspects I would like to consider: Who or what is the Light? What is the role of the Light? and, What is our response to the Light?
Who or What is the Light?
Unequivocally, the Scriptures declare Jesus is the Light! He is the central character of the Bible. His DNA can be found in all of its pages. He said of Himself, ‘“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world (John 9:5).”’ He also said, “He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life (John 8:12).”’
From before the beginning of the Creation Jesus was the Light (1 John 1:5). John’s Gospel 1:3-5 declares, ‘All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.’
Prior to the creation of the earth the Light had not revealed Himself. He had not created light (Genesis 1:3). All was darkness (v 2).
What is the Role of the Light?
Now, ‘“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light (John 1:6-8).’ From this we learn that the essential part of Jesus’ mission was to bring people to a belief in Him so that they would ‘have the light of life (John 8:12).’
A major role of the Light was to be, ‘………. as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house (Isaiah 42:6, 7).”’
He was also to be a Servant bringing salvation and a light to the Gentiles: “‘Is it too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel: I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:6).’”
When Simeon saw the baby Jesus he described Him as, ‘A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel (Luke 2:32).’
What is Our Response to the Light?
From Matthew 4:16 we learn that, ‘The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, Light has dawned.’
Jesus went to Galilee to fulfil what the prophet Isaiah prophesied about Him (Matthew 4:14). How did the people respond? Peter, Andrew, James and John, all fishermen, immediately stopped fishing and followed Jesus (vv 18-22). Great multitudes followed Him and many were healed by Him (vv 23-25). Jesus taught the people His laws (Matthew 5, 6 and 7).
He told those who believed in Him, ‘“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14),’” and ‘“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (v 16).”’
That should be our response. He has given us His light; He has made us His light. We should live holy and exemplary lives in His light (1 John 1:7) and reveal that Light to others (Philippians 2:14, 15).
We can go forward without fear because, ‘The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid (Psalm 21:1)?’