He Was not the Light: 3 Evangelism Lessons
“He was not the light.”
This is how John the Apostle described John the Baptist. In John 1:1-8, we read about one man who was not the light, and another Who was (and is). Read the full passage, but focus on the portion in bold.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through Him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
The True Light
In this biography of Jesus, John steps back to time eternal and describes the glory of the Son. Jesus is Word of God, who both is with God and who is God. Words are used for communication. Jesus is the Triune God’s communication with mankind. Many people ask why God doesn’t speak, why He has been so silent in this world He has made. He hasn’t been silent. Jesus is God’s Word to us. He has spoken, and that Word is Himself.
Not only is Jesus the Word of God, but He is also life. Insofar as any thing lives, it lives due to the active working of Jesus. If He were to stop sustaining everything in life, we would all cease to exist. Everything else has life, but Jesus is life.
He is also “the light of men,” the light that “shines in the darkness,” the light that darkness cannot overcome. Light is necessary to see reality as it is. Through Jesus, we receive God’s Word, we receive life, and we see all of reality in light of Him. When you are in darkness, you can guess what the world looks like. But light is required to truly see. Once you “see” Jesus, you can then see all reality properly.
This is the first Man whom John describes. He is God’s speech, man’s life, and the true light. He then describes a second man.
John: He Was Not the Light
In the middle of this glorious description of Jesus, John the Apostle takes a moment to describe John the Baptist. A word occurs three times in order to describe John: witness. What is a witness? If someone “witnessed” a crime, it simply means that they saw it happen.
John is not the light. He is one who has seen the light. He is not the center of the cosmos. He is someone who has seen the center of the cosmos.
In verse 7, John is called a witness to the light. He is described the same way again in verse 8. But in between, at the end of verse 7, we see this description: “He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through Him.”
In a court, what does a witness do? He takes the stand to tell other people what he has seen. But why does he do that? So that as an eyewitness, his words would persuade someone else to believe his report. John’s entire purpose was to be a witness to Jesus, someone who would speak about the true light, so that others might believe.
John is someone who has seen and heard God’s Word (Jesus), and who speaks about what he has seen and heard. As the Apostle John says in 1 John 1:3 “ that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us.”
Three Evangelism Applications
This short look at John 1 informs how we think of our evangelistic efforts.
First and foremost, it is a clear reminder that evangelism is not about us, and we need to be humble. We are not the message; we are simply the messengers. We aren’t the answer! We are simply a witness, one who directs attention away from ourselves and to our Savior.
Sometimes we can act like we are the light when we make our testimony more important than Jesus and the Gospel. Evangelism is biographical, not autobiographical. It’s about someone else’s perfect life, not yours. Yes, your story can certainly be shared! But make Jesus the center of your story, and make sure that the core aspects of the Gospel are clearly communicated.
Second, it reminds us of one of the reasons why we exist: to be witnesses of Jesus, so that others might believe through us. The world is full of people who are blinded by Satan’s lies, people who cannot see reality as it is. Tell them that life is not chaotic and dark, but that life makes sense in light of Jesus and the Gospel. Some of you don’t believe that the words “that all might believe through Him” could apply to you. Trust God that He wants to reach people through you!
Third, remembering that we are not the light takes pressure off our shoulders. It is not our job to shine, be brilliant, or to make blind eyes see. We trust Jesus to do those things. We have been called to the stand, however, and we have a solemn obligation to tell the world what we have seen to be true. So speak boldly of Jesus, knowing that the results are in His hands.