The Review and Herald


April 23, 1895

Christ, The Light of the World, Uncomprehended


Christ announced himself as the light of the world, and John declared: “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.... That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” The disciples listened eagerly to every word that fell from the lips of their Master, and never did they feel more satisfied concerning his Messiahship than when he stood before the angry Pharisees, priests, rabbis, and rulers. With frowning countenances they urged him to speak of many things, hoping to entangle him by their opposition. But he met their statements one after another in a calm, solemn, and earnest manner, and presented ideas to them of so lofty a character that human language seemed inadequate to express his divine meaning. It seemed as though he were laying his hand on the throne of God. The hearts of his disciples were deeply moved. Though he stood as a man clothed in humble garments, his Majesty was revealed before his scornful and contemptuous opponents as he asserted his true relation with God. His words were full of power as he presented his divine claim, piling evidence upon evidence, and bringing forward such positive arguments that many were constrained to believe. RH April 23, 1895, par. 1

Christ was the foundation of the whole system of Jewish worship, and in it was shadowed forth the living reality,—the manifestation of God in Christ. Through the sacrificial system men could see Christ's personality and look forward to their divine Saviour. But when he stood before them, representing the invisible God,—for in him dwelt “all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,—they were not able to discern his divine character because of their want of spirituality. Their own prophets had foretold him as a Deliverer. Isaiah had declared: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever.” But though his character and mission had been so plainly delineated, though he came unto his own, his own received him not. Occasionally divinity flashed through humanity, the glory escaped through the disguise of the flesh, and brought forth an expression of homage from his disciples. But it was not until Christ ascended to his Father, not until the descent of the Holy Spirit, that the disciples fully appreciated the character and the mission of Christ. After the baptism of the Holy Spirit they began to realize that they had been in the very presence of the Lord of life and glory. As the Holy Spirit brought the sayings of Christ to their remembrance, their understanding was opened to comprehend the prophecies, to understand the mighty miracles which he had wrought. The wonders of his life, in all its sacredness, greatness, and glory, passed before them, and they were as men wakened from a dream. They realized that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” They seemed of much less importance in their own eyes, after their awakening to the fact that Christ had been among them, than they did before they realized this. They never wearied of rehearsing every item which had come under their notice in connection with his words and works. They were often filled with remorse at their stupidity and unbelief and misapprehension as they recalled his lessons of instruction which they had but dimly understood when he had spoken them in their presence, and which now came to them as a fresh revelation. The Scriptures became a new book to them. RH April 23, 1895, par. 2

The Lord has enjoined upon all the searching of the Scriptures. It is the duty of every soul to seek diligently in order to know what is truth. The disciples remembered that Christ had said, “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” The word was to be their guide and director. As the disciples searched Moses and the prophets which testified of Christ, they were brought into fellowship with the Deity, and learned anew of their great Teacher, who had ascended to heaven to complete the work which he had begun upon earth. They recognized the fact that in him dwelt knowledge which no human being could comprehend unaided by divine agency. They needed the help of Him whom many kings, prophets, and righteous men had foretold. They were filled with amazement as they realized that Christ had actually come from God to a sinful world to save the fallen sons and daughters of Adam. They read and reread the prophetic delineations of his work and character. RH April 23, 1895, par. 3

How dimly they had comprehended the prophetic Scriptures! How dull they had been in taking in the great truths which testify of Christ! But what human mind could comprehend the mystery of his incarnation, the dual character of his nature, when they looked upon so humble a personage, one so void of human grandeur, who walked as a man among men! Their eyes were holden so that they did not fully recognize the divinity in the garb of humanity. But after they were illuminated with the Holy Spirit, how they longed to see him again, and to place themselves as learners at his feet! How they wished that they might come to him, and have him explain the Scriptures which they could not comprehend! How attentively would they listen to his words! What had Christ meant when he said, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now”? How eager they were now to know it all! They were grieved that their imagination was so feeble, that their ideas were so wide of the mark, that they had so failed to comprehend the true reality! A herald had been sent of God to proclaim the coming of Christ and to call the attention of the Jewish nation and of the world to his mission and work, that men might make preparation for his reception. The wonderful personage whom John proclaimed had been among them for thirty years, and they had not really known him as the One sent of God. Remorse took hold of their souls because the prevailing unbelief of the Jewish nation had leavened their opinions and darkened their understanding. How many times they were filled with desire to understand something that he could have unfolded to their minds; but they had slighted their privileges and failed to improve their opportunities. Jesus, the Light of this dark world, had been shining amid its moral darkness, and they had failed to comprehend the source of his beams! RH April 23, 1895, par. 4

They asked themselves why they had pursued such a course as made it necessary for Christ to say to them: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken; ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” Why had they not recognized their Master in him who had taught them marvelous truths? for “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” They often rehearsed the conversations of Christ, and said, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?” Why did we allow earthly considerations and the opposition of priests, rulers, and rabbis to confuse our senses, so that we did not comprehend the fact that a greater than Moses was among us, that One wiser than Solomon was instructing us? How dull were our ears! How feeble was our understanding! RH April 23, 1895, par. 5

Thomas would not believe until he had thrust his finger into the wound made by the Roman soldiers. Peter had denied Christ in the days of his humiliation, suffering, and rejection. These painful remembrances came before them in clear, distinct lines. They had been with him, but they had not known nor appreciated him. But how these things now stirred their hearts as they realized their unbelief! With what assurance they went forth to proclaim a crucified and risen Saviour! All fear of Jewish authorities was gone. They felt no timidity; for they realized that the Sun of Righteousness was shining upon this dark world. They realized that the central source of all the world's light was made known to them, and that they were blessed in comprehending that which worldly-wise men, with all their boasted science, theology, and philosophy, did not comprehend. The light and life of the world could be understood better by a handful of uneducated fishermen, who had experienced the love of God through Jesus Christ, than by those who were lifted up in self in their supposed intellectual greatness. RH April 23, 1895, par. 6

But how sad a thing it was for Heaven to look upon,—a world seared and marred with the curse of sin, covered with gross darkness, and yet insensible of the healing beams of the Sun of Righteousness! Christ asserted that the Pharisees, priests, and rulers chose darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. They cared not to acknowledge Christ, because it brought them into close contact with the Father, who would not tolerate sin, selfishness, and hypocrisy. Christ's mission was not to explain the complexity of his nature, but to give abundant light to those who would receive it by faith. Fallen men who should believe on him would receive the full advantage which could be produced through the mysterious union of humanity and divinity. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” RH April 23, 1895, par. 7