We were in the season of grandeur with lights blazing all around in various forms. The stars, the candles, the fireworks and the extravagant artificial lights have become prime part of the season. However, what was the light that God intended to be lit? What was the role of the star during the nativity of Jesus? It showed the way to the Way.
Can all the above-mentioned lights express or proclaim the good news to people around? Instead, God expects us to be the light of the world and the star of the season which should lead people to the true Light (Matt 5:14–16). God is the true light and remains forever the Light of the World (John 8:12); the rest dim and fade away. With this in our mind, I would like to take you through the most quoted, known and translated Bible verse—John 3:16.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
There are three key verbs in this verse that expect us to react. So, wise people, let us follow the star in the passage and find the light in it.
The Light compels us to love the undesirable
The first verb of the passage is loved. Love is the essence of God and his salvific plan (1 John 4:8). Father has shown the ultimate expression of love by giving away his Son to be a ransom for humanity (1 John 3:1). Jesus has shown his love by giving away his life for us (1 John 3:16). The Holy Spirit has been demonstrating his love in helping us to understand the love of the Father and the Son and filling us with his love (Rom 5:5). God loved us all who are not in a position to be in fellowship with God. Loving the unlovable and undesirable is the essence and uniqueness of divine love—agape—the unconditional and sacrificial love. The words world and whosoever speak about the universal dimension of God’s love—which was new and hard for the Pharisees to comprehend.
The star showed the way to the wise men of the East, who were not Israelites. If God expects us to be the light and star of the world, we ought to love people from all possible races, languages and lands, and guide them towards him. This, too, is the very essence of the great commission of our Lord Jesus.
The Light humbles us to give to the undeserving
The second verb in the verse is gave. Christmas is a season of giving. Many gifts, varied in value, are exchanged during this time. What would be the best gift one could ever give to their family and friends? All gifts are worn out over time, but Jesus is eternal and He is the best gift one can present. Just like loving the undesirable, giving to the undeserving marks the uniqueness of Christian teaching. God is the example who gave his one and only son as a gift to us—the undeserving people. The Father was selfless in giving his son, the Son was selfless in giving away his life; we ought to be selfless in giving what we have received to people whom we categorize to be undeserving. We are not giving rather sharing the joy and hope of having the gift. When we share Jesus with the world, it is the divine act that will attract them to know him more clearly and personally. Therefore, we need to work as faithful ambassadors of our king. If Christ intends us to be the light of the world, we ought to attract people to the Light, and as the star lead the wise men to Jesus so should we attract people to him alone.
The Light helps you to believe in the unbelievable
Believe is the last verb of the passage. Believing the unbelievable is a challenge. Above all, believing in Christ needs courage and divine help. What is the role of the Light in relation to belief? C.H. Spurgeon, the great preacher, once said, “To trust God in the light is nothing, but to trust Him in the dark—that is faith.” This has led me to mixed conclusions. Whether in light or in the darkness, we believe because God helps us to believe. Darkness and light make difference in our trust, faith and belief in God. God’s Word and the Holy Spirit are the source of faith. Faith comes by hearing (Rom 10:17), no one can accept the Lordship of Jesus, except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3). Consequently, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11: 1). Therefore, we trust God in the light and as well as darkness for the reason that his word is lamp to our feet and light unto our path. His word and the Holy Spirit will be source of our faith, by making things clear as to what we ought to believe and hope for. As we live as a light, we need to introduce the Light, the word of God, which will guide the paths of the people.
The foregoing discussion on John 3:16 in the light of the advent of Jesus Christ reminds me of two songs. “Light of the world you stepped in to darkness” and “There is a candle in every soul”.
The first song portrays Jesus as the light and the latter portrays us as a lit candle. Jesus is the true light and as we are lit by him he expects us to be his representatives/light in this dark world.
Light of the world, which was given unto us, stepped down in to our dark lives, lighting us with his loveand helped us to believe the unbelievable, and has shown a way of hope for eternity. He commands us to do what he has done for us. Therefore, as the light of the world and the star of the season, let us love the undesirable, give to the undeserving and believe in the unbelievable. Let us not fail to light every candle that comes across us and point them to the true and the eternal light and the star—Jesus Christ.