1 John is an awesome little letter near the end of the New Testament. Here are a few factoids about the letter in general:
- It was written by the Apostle John who also wrote the Gospel of John, 2 and 3 John as well as writing down the Revelation.
- It was written between 85-90 AD most likely while John was living in Ephesus.
- It was written to safeguard the saints against several false teachings that were circulating: 1) Docetism – which denied that Jesus was God in the flesh, and 2) the idea that there was no such thing as sin.
As I pondered chapter 1, there was one verse in particular that caught my attention: “This is the message that we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (verse 5)
My curiosity was piqued as to why John would sum up the message of Jesus in this way. I mean, after all, this guy wrote 21 chapters of stuff that Jesus did and that Jesus said – why did he succinctly describe Jesus’ message with this one sentence and just 12 words?
As John writes, it has been about 60 years since he hung out with Jesus – 60 years since the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. He is an older man and has had a lot of time to reflect on the time they had together. No doubt some of his experiences with Jesus impacted him more than others. Here are three that might have influenced why he said what he said in 1 John 1:5…
1) “I am the Light of the World” – John chronicled 7 “I AM” statements of Jesus in his gospel. One of them was this one: “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will walk not in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). When Jesus said this he was having a conversation with the scribes and Pharisees. It led to a series of outrageous claims by Jesus that ultimately resulted in the Jewish leaders trying to kill Jesus (John 8:59). No doubt this would stick in John’s mind all these years later because it dramatically changed the relationship Jesus and His disciples had with the leaders. From this point forward they had to always watch their back.
2) The Crazy Way Jesus Gave Sight to the Man Born Blind – Talk about something you would never forget… John and his buddies were with Jesus when they passed a man that had been born blind. They were trying to understand this from a theological perspective and asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:3-5) Then Jesus did something John would never have expected and would never forget. He spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. He then placed the spittle facial on the man’s eyes, told the man to go wash the mud off, and when he did, lo and behold the man could see for the first time in his life. I don’t think I’d ever forget anything like that either.
3) The Transfiguration – Matthew 17:1-2 records this… “And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” And if that wasn’t unforgettable enough, Moses and Elijah join the party and have a pow wow with Jesus as He prepares to make His way toward the cross.
As John was writing his little epistle, no doubt these incidents and more flooded his memory bank. And as he tried to sum up Jesus’ message in one short sentence the idea of LIGHT kept coming to mind. “This is the message that we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” It was the perfect description for an audience that was surrounded by darkness and needed the encouragement for their souls that The Light of the World will always overcome the darkness.
May this brick remind you all over again that Jesus is indeed the Light of the World!