John’s sole purpose was to be a voice. That voice would be the sound of one crying in the wilderness, pointing to the coming Messiah who would redeem the world of sin. He said he was not the light but that the light was coming. John the Baptist’s only goal was to point the way to the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. The coming one was light. John 1:9 tells us, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”  The Venerable Bede suggested that the true light of the world, Jesus, makes stars seem dark. Even “The stars at the day of judgment will seem to be dark, not by any failure of their own luster, but in consequence of the increase of the true light throwing them into the shade.”[1] This true light will make everything clear, even to the blind.

Jesus, as the true light, fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy. Psalm 112:4 tells us about a light that “Dawns in the darkness.” This Psalm speaks to us of the righteous light that surpasses the righteousness of every man and yet shares his splendor with sinners. Isaiah helps us understand that man’s righteousness shines only when it finds its source in the Messiah. He is the “true light” of God’s righteousness that will come upon those who believe. The true light will be your light. Isaiah 60:1-3 says, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.  And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” It’s Daniel who tells us that this light is so bright that nothing can withstand it. All hidden truths are revealed. Daniel 2:22 says, “He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.” John is not the true light. We are not the light. The only true light is to be found in Jesus Christ. He is the demonstration of God’s love. We find refuge from our guilt and sinfulness only with Him. The Psalmist sings, “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.  For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see the light” (Psalm 36:7-9).

C. S. Lewis was a brilliant Oxford professor who had been an atheist since he was fourteen years old. He was fascinated by great stories, myths, and especially children’s fables and wrote several of his own. One day he spent the evening with his friend, J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings. They stayed up till past 3 am just talking. Tolkien asked Lewis why he was so fascinated by the children’s stories. Tolkien answered his own question and said that Lewis liked Sleeping Beauty because he knew deep down that there really was an evil prince that kept us under his spell, and it would take a kiss of grace to set us free truly. There is some revelatory light in these stories. They make us aware of certain truths. Tolkien went on to say these stories aren’t true, but they reflect a splintered fragment of “the true light.” The story of Christ is true. It’s the true story that touches the deepest needs of the human heart and changes lives when it is received and believed. Twelve days later, Lewis wrote to a friend, saying, “I have passed from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ and Christianity. My long night walk with Tolkien had a great deal to do with it.”[2]

[1] Oden, Thomas C., and Christopher A. Hall, eds. 1998. Mark (Revised). Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[2] Morgan, Robert J. 2007. Nelson’s Annual Preacher’s Sourcebook. 2007 Edition. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.