Wednesday Words – Light
January 22, 2019
Pastor Paul Cannon
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
On them light has shined.
- Isaiah 9:2
The internship congregation I served at was named Light of the World. When I first began serving there, that name called to mind one of Jesus’ famous “I am” statements from the Gospel of John- John 8:12 which reads, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” But that wasn’t the scripture the name of our congregation referred to.
Instead, Light of the World used Matthew 5:14 as its theme verse, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.” They even adopted a theme song by “Tangled Blue” that had been written for that verse, which said, “You are the light of the world. So shine, shine, shine where you are. You are the light of the world” (Click this link to listen to the song on Tangled Blue’s website)
In John, Jesus says, “I am the light” and in Matthew Jesus says, “you are the light.” Which is it? Jesus? You? Who is the light that Isaiah mentions, when he says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”?
There’s a theological part of my brain that wants to reconcile the two disparate passages from John and Matthew by saying, “Jesus is the light and we reflect his light.” After all, our Mission Statement is “We reflect Christ in message and action.” There’s truth in that statement … but that’s not what Matthew is saying here.
Our upcoming text for Sunday recalls Isaiah’s prophecy about light breaking into the darkness on the shores of Galilee. The image points a finger directly at Jesus, who began his ministry there. Jesus is indeed the Light of the World.
But then Jesus did something surprising; as the crowds began to follow him, he turned and told them “You are the light.” Not only that, but it’s your responsibility to shine your light on the world. “In the same way” Jesus says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
It’s not one or the other. It’s both! Jesus is our light and our salvation, but that light now lives in us. It shines through in our actions, that they might give glory to God (not for our own glory or our own righteousness). You carry that light in you.
Let it shine!