The Light and the Truth
“O send out Thy light and Thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto Thy holy hill, and to Thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy yea upon the harp will I praise Thee, O God my God.” (Psalm 43:3-4)
Thus cried the Psalmist as his soul panted after God, and God has answered his cry. He had purposed to do so before time began, so that every one who sought Him right find their full joy in Him, and that in a way that never could have entered into any human mind. The way He has done it is told out in the Gospel of John the Apostle; where we see the height from which “the light” and “the truth” have come, the greatness of the One who was sent forth to be both; the depths of shame into which He went to save us; and the triumphant way in which He leads us, not to God’s altars merely, but to His very home and heart. For the light and truth have not been sent forth in vain, and Jesus, who is “the light” and “the truth,” has revealed the Father so blessedly that He has become infinitely attractive to us, He has become our exceeding joy.
In chapter 1 we learn THE GLORY OF HIS PERSON, who said, “I am the light,” and “I am the . . . truth.”
“In the beginning was the Word”—HIS ETERNAL EXISTENCE.
“And the Word was with God”—HIS DISTINCT PERSONALITY.
“And the Word was God”—HIS PERSONAL DEITY.
“The same was in the beginning with God”—HIS ETERNAL COMPANIONSHIP WITH, BUT DISTINCTION FROM, THE FATHER.
The Word brings Him before us as the One in whom the wisdom of God’s infinite mind has found personal expression in whatever way God has expressed Himself; hence we read of Him;
“All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made”—
HIS CREATIVE WISDOM AND POWER.
Thus is the eternal glory of His Person told, and thus John introduces Him to our faith and adoration.
From the glory of His Person He proceeds to THE GREATNESS OF HIS CONDESCENSION.
“The Word was made flesh” (v. 14)—HIS REAL AND PERSONAL INCARNATION.
“And dwelt among us”—HIS ENTRANCE INTO ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF MANHOOD.
“Full of grace and truth”—HIS SUITABILITY TO ALL THAT MEN ARE WITHOUT COMPROMISING WHAT GOD IS.
And in connection with His coming to tabernacle among us, a fresh glory bursts upon our vision; one that creatorial power could not reveal; one that never would have been revealed at all had it not been for the great purpose that was in the heart of the Father in sending Him forth.
“And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father”—HIS UNCHANGING RELATIONSHIP IN LOVE AND ONENESS IN NATURE WITH THE FATHER.
An able and reverent writer has said, “His was the glory of the Only-Begotten, come fresh from the splendour of uncreated light. Every idea but that of pure sovereign Deity in this part of the argument is trifling and profane.”
The same writer, speaking of this wonderful epithet, “Only Begotten Son,” says, “When the evangelist would affirm the perfect and eternal intimacy and union between the glorious Persons in the Godhead, and the unspeakable and infinite endearment of our Lord to the Father; when he would convey the loftiest possible idea of the majesty of evangelical truth; when he would impress the minds of his readers with a deep sense at once of the inscrutableness of the Divine nature, and the certainty of the manifestations of God in Christ, he declares—‘No man’ (nemo), no being of created mould, ‘hath seen God at any time; THE ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON, who exists in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him’ (v. 18). When, again, he would illustrate the benevolence of God with the highest splendour, he says, ‘In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that GOD SENT HIS ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON into the world, that we might live through Him.’ And, finally, when our Lord would represent unbelief as the last extreme of human guilt, He finds no stronger argument than that conveyed in this appellation, ‘He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in THE NAME OF THE ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD’.”
We pass from the glory of His Person, and the greatness of His condescension, to the PERFECTION OF HIS LIFE.
“I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (chap. 17:4)—HIS ABSOLUTE DEVOTION TO THE WILL OF GOD.
“I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (chap. 8:12)—HIS PERFECT MANIFESTATION OF GOD, THE ONLY SOURCE OF LIFE AND LIGHT FOR MEN.
“Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (chap. 13:1)—HIS UNCHANGING LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS TO THOSE WHOM HE HAD CHOSEN OUT OF THE WORLD.
How great the blessing that comes from the consideration of the fulness of light and truth in the lowly life of this glorious Person; of His suitability to meet the condition and need of every sinner whom He sought; of His patience toward their ignorance; His sympathy toward their sorrows; His mercy toward their sicknesses, and His grace toward their sins. What witness to His fulness is borne by Nicodemus, the Sychar sinner, the Bethesda cripple, the storm-tossed disciples, the hungry multitude, the guilty adulteress, the blind beggar, the stricken Bethany sisters, and all who were not too utterly blinded by their love for their own evil deeds to behold His glory. It was thus amid weariness and hunger and thirst, despised and rejected by men, that He laboured amongst them, that the Father’s heart might be made known, His words declared, and His works performed; and He that hath seen Him “hath seen the Father.” He is the light and He is the truth.
We pass on from His perfect life to HIS SUFFERING AND THE SHAME THAT MEN PUT UPON HIM.
“And one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand” (chap. 18:22).
“Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber” (v, 40).
“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him” (chap. 19:1).
“And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote Him with their hands” (v. 2).
“They cried out, Away with Him, crucify Him” (v. 6).
“Then delivered he Him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led Him away” (vv. 15-16).
Thus He, whose glory the Gospel unfolds before us, was smitten, scourged, mocked, buffeted, execrated, and crucified.
Along this path of sorrow and shame the Man of sorrows trod His steadfast way to accomplish the will of God. Rising up above all the contumely and the hatred wherewith the men—whose very breath was His—hated Him, He took up the question of God’s glory in regard to sin, and became the bearer of it.
“And He bearing His cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha” (chap. 19:17).
He upholds “all things by the word of His power,” we learn from Hebrews 1:3; but heavier than the universe was the burden that He carried that day, for then and there He was “THE LAMB OF GOD WHICH BEARETH AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD.”
“They crucified Him, and two other with Him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst” (v. 18).
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, IT IS FINISHED: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.”
How incomparable the dignity of the holy Sufferer amid the shame of that cross! How triumphant that word, ere He gave up His life! The will of God accomplished; the prince of this world utterly confounded; the great sacrifice made that would fill the universe with the glory of the light and the truth that He went even into death to fully manifest.
One more passage from this most solemn chapter we must quote:—
“One of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (v. 34).
The last act of man’s hatred brought out the love of God in all its fulness.
“The very spear that pierced His side
Drew forth the blood to save.”
And now through the infinite, eternal, and ever-abiding efficacy of that blood we are in the light, i.e., we are brought to full revelation of what God is, that our joy may be full. “If we walk in the light as He is IN THE LIGHT we have fellowship one with another” [IN THE TRUTH] and the never failing basis of both is—“the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
As we consider the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ we are not surprised at anything that may flow from it. We are assured that God must have had some great purpose in sending Him forth, and in this we find that we are not deceived, for when risen from the dead the Lord sends this message to His disciples. “Go unto MY BRETHREN and say unto them, I ascend to MY FATHER AND YOUR FATHER, TO MY GOD AND YOUR GOD.” He has brethren now to whom He can declare His father’s name, and lead them, not to a Jewish altar upon which smokes an impotent sacrifice, but having Himself sanctified us for ever by His one offering, He leads them to the Father that they may worship Him in spirit and in truth. We accept in deep humility this place and relationship which eternal love first planned and then made possible, and while we find our joy. In fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, we own Him who leads us into it as our Lord and our God.