Written by Philip P. Bliss, the old gospel hymn sings of Jesus as the light of salvation in this manner:

The whole world was lost
In the darkness of sin,
The Light of the world is Jesus!
Like sunshine at noonday,
His glory shone in.
The Light of the world is Jesus!


Come to the light, ’tis shining for thee;
Sweetly the light has dawned upon me.
Once I was blind, but now I can see:
The Light of the world is Jesus!

Indeed, “the light of the world is Jesus.” There is no metaphor better than Christmas to proclaim Jesus as the Light of the World.

On Friday evening, December 2, I journeyed with my wife, oldest granddaughter, a young friend and his wife, and their two sons to Greenville, SC, to participate in the annual Christmas carol sing and lighting of the front campus of Bob Jones University. I had never participated in this or seen nearly a quarter of a million Christmas lights turned on simultaneously.

The Christmas carol sing started at 6:30 PM and lasted an hour. The sound of over 5000 voices singing in the evening air was emotionally and spiritually uplifting. Christmas carol after Christmas carol was sung until a crescendo was reached with Joy to the World, and then, with the words “let heaven and nature sing” reverberating in our ears, someone flipped a switch and 250,000 Christmas lights illuminated the December night with glorious brilliance and glowing beauty that proclaimed the joyous message of Jesus’ birth and His reign.

The photograph above freezes a bit of the splendor of that spectacular moment. Around me, I heard the muted whispers of “Wow! Look! Look!” For me and many others, it was a moment in which to reverence the One who is the Light of the World and the One who has overcome “the darkness of sin.”

The metaphor of light as it is used with reference to the coming of Jesus is Biblically driven, so much so, that in John 8:12 Jesus refers to Himself as “the light of the world.” In so doing, Jesus was not inventing something new; rather, He was reaching back and pulling forward the fabric of Old Testament prophesies. This Biblical use of light fascinates me. Consider the following:

  • The first “And God said” of creation in Genesis 1 is God’s creative work of bringing forth light that dissipated the darkness of the primeval earth that was “formless” and “void.” It was a word that brought forth day’s light.
  • Light is the place of the living (Ps. 56:13); shadows and darkness are the hues of death (Ps. 23:4).
  • According to Psalm 103:2, God robes Himself in light, and, in the words of the beloved hymn, Immortal. Invisible, God Only Wise, God dwells “in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes.”
  • In Psalm 27:1, the Psalmist declares that Jehovah is his light and salvation.
  • Often, both the knowledge of God and God’s law are portrayed in terms of light (Ps. 36:9; Ps. 119:105 and 130; Prov. 6:23; and Isa. 51:4).
  • Sin, defined as “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God,” is depicted as rebellion against the light of God’s revelation and person (Job 24:13 and John 3:19-20).
  • Woes and curses are cast against those who put darkness for light by their willful disobedience and apostasy (Isa. 9:2).

Along with these concepts, light is also used for the ruler of the people (1 Kings 11:36). The promise is that God will not leave the people without a “light” – a ruler who will judge them in equity (Ps. 67:4 and 98:9).

The sum of the above is that light is a metaphor for life, the garments and abode of God, knowledge of God, salvation, God’s law, and His rule over His people through His king. Faithful obedience to God’s Word is described as walking in the light. Sin, in contrast, is depicted as walking away from the light and into the darkness of terrible judgment. The promised King is the light of His people who both saves and rules the people of His love.

In the midst of this multifaceted metaphor of light, there is the promise of the Messiah who is the Savior and Light of the World. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light (Isa. 9:2). Arise, shine! Indeed, the Light is come, and the gross darkness that covers the minds and hearts of men is dissipated by the brilliance of God’s glorious light in the face of Jesus, and the peoples and kings of the earth shall come to the dawning of His light and the brightness of His coming (Isa. 60:1-3; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

In the midst of this language that portends fulfillment of superlative promises that are stupendous, the story continues and concludes with these royal words spoken by Magi: “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him (Matt. 2:2).

Indeed, worship is the proper response to the One who is the Light of the World. But if one is blind to the Light, that worship is not going to be given. The Apostle John writes that Jesus is the Life that is the Light of men. He is the Light that shines in the darkness of sin’s night; however, that darkness has not comprehended the Light. “Yet to all who receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gives the right to become the sons of God” (John 1:4-5, 12).

The dark evenings of Christmastide glisten and gleam with a billion points of light declaring that Jesus is the Light of the World. Dancing in celebration of His Incarnation, these lights call us to believe and receive Him as the Savior. Dancing in celebration that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, these lights call us to bend our knees and to worship the One that John called “the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8).

Wow! Look at those lights prancing in the dark evenings of Christmastide lighting the path to Jesus! With the old songwriter, I sing: “The light of the world is Jesus.”

Christmas light points out that Jesus is the only Savior. Christmas light reminds us that unless our faith is in Jesus we are hopelessly lost in the darkness of sin’s night. Christmas light announces that Jesus is King Jesus and we bow and worship before His majesty.

Merry Christmas!

These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson

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  1. Tony Locke says:

    Preached on the same topic this last Sunday. Thanks for sharing. Loved your post. My sermon was “Jesus is the Radiance”

    Merry Christmas!


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