The Herald (John 1:6–8)

silhouette of man standing on mountain peak

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

John 1:6–8, ESV

When a king was going out, it was customary to send out a messenger ahead of him to inform everyone about his imminent arrival. This messenger was called a herald. Kings didn’t just show up and tell the people: “Hello. I’m the king.” No. The King always had an entourage, and he sent a herald ahead of him so that the people could arrange a grand reception for him. Because Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, He had to have a herald as well. His herald was John the Baptist.

Ever since God had brought His people Israel out of Egypt during the Exodus, God had periodically spoken to them through the prophets, who prophesied everything from the disastrous fall of Jerusalem to the glorious arrival of the Messiah and His messenger, until around 440–400 BC, when God sent His last prophet Malachi. Malachi (whose name means “The Lord’s messenger”) prophesied that God would send His messenger to “prepare the way before me” (Mal. 3:1) and that He would send “Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes” (Mal. 4:5). Then, for the next 400 years, God was silent.

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Life and Light (John 1:4b–5)

fluffy sunset clouds above waves

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1–5, ESV

In the last article, I began to explain the thematic words in John, starting with life; in this article, we will continue to look at life and its close companion: light.

Life and light are closely associated. “the life was the light of men.” The light is one with life. You can distinguish between them but never separate them. They’re one inside of God almighty. He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust, giving light and life to every man and the world (Matthew 5:45). Jesus reinforces this connection between life and light in John 8:12 when He says: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The connection is also found in the Old Testament in Psalm 36:9: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”

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