New Testament Lesson | BYU Studies

New Testament Lesson

Physical Light and the Light of Christ
December 28, 2018
New Testament Lesson
Come, Follow Me; January 21-27 Individual and Family Study
Author

The light that surrounds Jesus Christ draws his people to him. This week’s readings show that as welcome to Christ, we naturally want to be better sons and daughters of God.

“Physical Light and the Light of Christ,” by David A. Grandy, BYU Studies Quarterly 53, no. 4
In the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ is introduced as the Logos, that is, the Word of God by which the cosmos was created and rendered intelligible. It appears that John is responding here, at least in part, to the Greek belief that the universe is a place of reason, beauty, and harmony, and he is tracing those qualities instead back to Christ. Striking a note that would appeal to both Jew and Gentile, he states that in Christ the Logos “was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Christ was “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). Here light could almost trade places with life, for light is not simply a pleasant addition to reality, a nice extra. Rather, it shines or burns with life-combusting radiance.

The Gospel of John is filled with other images of light, the most memorable being Christ’s simple declaration, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). For those attuned to biblical echoes, this affirmation reverberates with “Let there be light,” the first great creation formula of the book of Genesis. Although God will later create the lights of the heavens (the sun, moon, and stars), he does not, according to Michael Welker, work in darkness and so first calls into existence an ambience of brightness. Welker insists that an understanding of Genesis begins with the realization that “Creation connects diverse processes and domains of life and orders them in such a way that they can be known by human beings and that human beings can enter into communication with God.” The circumambient light-realm enables this ordering, integrating activity; it is a matrix that engenders life, understanding, and communion with God.

Not only that, but light as a principle of creation seems to remain eternally operative in the cosmos. The circumambient light-realm timelessly informs what comes thereafter, so that now physical light may be said to participate in the moment of creation.

“My Testimony,” by President Gordon B. Hinckley, April 200) General Conference
When I went on a mission to the British Isles, that testimony quickened. Each morning, my companion and I read the Gospel of John together, commenting on each verse. It was a wonderful, illuminating experience. That marvelous testament opens with a declaration of the divinity of the Son of God.I thought of that declaration much then, and I have thought of it much since. It leaves no doubt concerning the individuality of the Father and the Son. To the Son the Father gave the great responsibility of creating the earth, “and without him was not any thing made that was made.” I have seen much of ugliness in this world. Most of it is the work of man. But I think I have seen much more of beauty. I marvel at the majestic works of the Creator. How magnificent they are. And they are all the work of the Son of God.

“Jesus is Jehovah (YHWH): A Study in the Gospels,” by Roger R. Keller, in Jesus Christ: Son of God, Savior, Religious Studies Center
Jesus is the light. In the Gospel of John there are a variety of words used to describe Jesus and His work. John speaks of Jesus’ glory (see John 1:14; 2:11; 17:24) and of Him as the Savior of the world (see John 4:42), as well as the Word (see John 1:1, 14). Jesus says that He is the light (see John 8:12), the truth (see John 14:6), and the life (see John 11:25).

When we turn to the Old Testament, we find a number of passages that identify Jehovah with light. For example, Psalm 89:15 states: “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.” Other passages that have a similar content are Psalm 104:2, Isaiah 2:5, and Micah 7:8. It is interesting to see, however, that light, when used with reference to Jehovah, is often coupled with another word, a word that is used to describe Jesus in the Gospel of John. Consider the following: “The Lord [Jehovah] 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 27:1; emphasis added). “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (36:9; emphasis added). “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy 

When we turn to the Old Testament, we find a number of passages that identify Jehovah with light. For example, Psalm 89:15 states : “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.” Other passages that have a similar content are Psalm 104:2, Isaiah 2:5, and Micah 7:8. It is interesting to see, however, that light, when used with reference to Jehovah, is often coupled with another word, a word that is used to describe Jesus in the Gospel of John. Consider the following: “The Lord [Jehovah] 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 27:1; emphasis added). “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (36:9; emphasis added). “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles” (43:3; emphasis added). “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path” (119:105; emphasis added). And, “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord [Jehovah] shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord [Jehovah] shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended” (Isaiah 60:1920; emphasis added). Because Jesus is Jehovah incarnate, all of the above words may appropriately be applied to Him as John does.