By Editorial Staff
As a matter of fact, numerous beliefs are held about Jesus, the truth about whom is considered one of the most controversial topics among the followers of the various faiths.
One group believes that he is God and/or the son of God; a second group believes that he is a prophet; a third group believes that he is neither God nor a prophet, nor even a messiah.
Anyway, let’s set all those beliefs aside, listen to Jesus himself, and know who he is according to the New Testament, with reference to the Old Testament and, sometimes, the Qur’an.
Let’s assume that all chapters of both the Old Testament and the New Testament are actually the words of God, discuss what Jesus said about himself and interpret the verses with equivocal indications through the verses with unequivocal indications in the Bible.
Is Jesus the Light of the World?
There are many awkward descriptions of Jesus in the New Testament. One of such descriptions is Jesus’ description as “the Light of the World”.
In the New Testament, we read: “There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” (John 1:6-9)
We also read: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12)
We further read: I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. (John 12:46)
In addition, we read: “Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark.” (Romans 2:17-19)
But, what is meant by Jesus’ description as “the light of the world”? Is this description a literal or metaphorical one?
First of all, there is no doubt that God alone is the only literal light of the world. He is the true source and giver of light to His creatures including Jesus himself. This is well-established in the New Testament itself and sometimes cited as quotations for Jesus and his disciples.
In the New Testament, we read: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.” (1 John 1:5-6)
Besides, the Old Testament confirms that only God formed the light and created darkness. We read: “That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:6-7)
We also read: “It was you who opened up springs and streams; you dried up the ever-flowing rivers. The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon.” (Psalm 74:15-16)
We further read: “The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
The New Testament tells us that God has unapproachable light. We read: “To keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:14-16)
The New Testament also tells us that it is God Who really gives things light and Jesus referred to as “Lamb” is just a means of such light and the lamp that derives this light from God. We read: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.” (Revelation 21:23-24)
We also read: “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5)
Jesus made it clear to his disciples that it is God Who brought them out from darkness to light. In the New Testament, we read: “Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:7-8)
The Old Testament emphasizes that it is the light of God which guides to the truth. We read: “Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man. For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.” (Psalm 43:1-3)
The New Testament indicates that Jesus has no innate light and it is God Who made him a light for people. We read: “For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 13:47)
There is no clearer evidence for the fact that Jesus was a metaphorical rather than literal light than being a temporary light for the world that existed only during his lifetime. The New Testament quotes Jesus as saying: “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5)
We also read: “Then Jesus told them, ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.’ When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.” (John 12:35-36)
According to the New Testament, being a light means that Jesus came up with light and guidance from God to people. We read: “That the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:23)
In this sense, Jesus resembles the other human beings. Jesus described his disciples as the light of the world also because they were supposed to do good deeds and reform rather than spoil the earth. Therefore, Jesus mentioned that they would have a light shining before others.
We read: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)
Moreover, Jesus described his disciples as the children of the light. He said: “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5)
Thus, Jesus is not the light of the world literally but metaphorically and other human beings can share this description.
1- The Holy Bible (Visit biblegateway.com)