The Illuminating Life

John 1:4.--- 'In him was live; and life was the light of men.'

When we come across a passage in some other poets that speaks home to us, and charms by its beauty of thought and power of expression, we sometimes say, "That's poetry." We do not qualify the statement by any adjective. We do not say that it is good poetry. It is higher praise to say simply that it is poetry, meaning that it is worth calling poetry. And so the writer, while he could not be briefer in his statement, at the same time could not put it more forcibly when he says of Jesus, 'In him was life.' It is worth calling life. The Evangelist no doubt uses the word in a very wide sense as applied to Christ. He is the Source of all life, He is the Support of all life. But let us take it, for the time being, in a narrower sense. Looking simply at the life of Jesus lived on earth, in its beauty, its restfulness, its power, we are constrained to say, 'That is life.' It was a life bare of earthly possessions. He had no where to lay his head; but Jesus had the true secret and treasure of life in that he had always somewhere to lay His heart. It was a life separate from sinners in its purity, yet so wondrously near to sinners in its sympathy. It was a life that won of hearts of children, and drew also that outcast publicans and sinners. And it was not merely by what He said, even though 'He spake as never man spake,' that such as these were drawn to Him, and that the common people heard him gladly. The words, once used of another, apply for more truly to Jesus, 'There was something finer in Him than anything that He said.' How true that that life has been the light of men! But for Christ, life would be very dark and meaningless. Like all light, the light of Christ is a revealing light. How many themes are illumined by it which otherwise would have been left in the darkness or the twilight.

Jesus Christ revealed God to us in His own life. He could say at its close, as He sat at the Last Supper with His Apostles, 'He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. It was reserved for Christianity, to present to the world and ideal character, which, through all the changes of 20 centuries, has inspired the hearts of men with an impassioned love. In His life on earth Jesus Christ did show the world once and for ever the beauty, the lovableness, the holyness, the wisdom, the faithfulness of God. The disciples could not think of their Master apart from God or of God are apart from their Master. Strict monotheists as they were, they could not keep Him out of their prayers. Neither can we. For us, as for them, the way to God lies through Jesus Christ; and looking upon Him we see, as by a clear shaft of light, and to the very heart of Deity. He has revealed the infinite and equal value of all men and women, because all are the children of the same Father. As a result He taught that, though there are great differences in capacity, all should have the same opportunity of becoming what God meant them to be; all should of right be able to live a full human life, and to put to the best advantage all the gifts which God has given them. His parable of the shepherd who sought the one who lost sheep, of the woman who swept the house for one lost piece of silver, of the father who killed the fatted calf to welcome home the one prodigal son, and His emphatic saying that 'it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish,' taught an astonish world the value, in God's sight, of every man, woman, and child whom he has created. To a God who was essentially Power we might be insignificant unconsidered atoms, drifted along the great vortex of time and death. But inasmuch as He is centrally or essentially Father, and essence of Fatherhood is individual care for his children, then, as St. Augustine said, "He loves us every wind as though there were but one of us to love." He has revealed the tremendous possibilities of man. In His own character and life He has shown what God meant man to be and what he may be if he put God first and walked as He Himself walked with God. He teaches the death cannot destroy human life, personality, or love; that the dead are not dead but alive; that because he lived through death we shall live also, and live on to God. It has been as the daybreak to many a perplex mind to discover how clear and plain is the light Christ gives upon all essential matters. Souls are often bewildered because they worry themselves over things that are entirely subordinate. Here are certain moral difficulties in the historical books of the Old Testament; here are certain points in Paul's Epistles hard to be understood. Now it is good to come, sooner or later, by study and patience and prayer, to settle all opinions of all such matters of controversy. But most of these affairs later will suffice quite as well as sooner; our spiritual health and peace do not depend on such things, but our relation to Christ. And many minds would lose half their doubts and difficulties if they would shut themselves up with the four Gospels, and weigh simply and honestly the teaching and claims of Jesus. Here is the story of such a soul. After telling of the shattering of his faith he speaks thus of his deliverance: 'How I found my way out of the darkness is easily told, for at was in fact the only way. It was by finding Christ himself. I had lost Him even in the Bible. At last I turned to the four Gospels and stayed there. The moral and historical difficulties I put aside for a time, I set myself to account for Christ. So he and many another have found the key that opens all locks, the light that broadens and brightens and to the perfect day. But the Christ who has so illuminated the realms of truth has shed an equal light upon the path of duty. Again we turn to His words---so simple, so memorable, so commanding in their appeal to the conscience---but no less eagerly to His character an example. The intellectual life of a child usually begins with a picture book. He cannot understand printed words. They are a mystery to him. But what child has not a love for pictures, does not ask questions about them, take in from them the beginnings of thought, enriched with them the fountains of speech? And God, knowing that men are only children in some things, has given them in Christ a picture of the perfect life, a radiance that enlightens the eyes, that wins the heart, that creates an ideal and they hope as lofty as the Divine commandments. Loving Christ so, we shall grow like Him. It is worthy of his wonderful grace that He should apply to His disciples this same metaphor as He uses of himself, and should say, 'Ye are the light of the world.' We should not have dared to say it of ourselves. But let us be the mouth that speaks it, and ours the solemn joy of the privilege, the earnest purpose, to fulfill the responsibility. Like the daybreak, the divine Light is the property of no one land or race; like the noon-day, it is meant to fill the firmament from horizon to horizon. We have it that we may spread it. We're worthy of it only when we are willing and eager to share it.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha