“The Light of the World Is Jesus”

"…I am the light of the world…" (Jn. 8.12)

     INTRO.: A song which is based upon the idea of Jesus as the light of the world is "The Light of the World Is Jesus" (#537 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed both by Philip Paul Bliss (1838-1876). Born in Pennsylvania, Bliss became one of the best-known gospel song writers in the mid to late 1800’s as a result of his association with the evangelistic campaigns of revival evangelists Dwight L. Moody and Daniel W. Whittle. For the most part, Bliss produced both words and music for most of his songs, but occasionally would provide a tune for the text of another, and at his tragic death left some poems that were set to music by others.

     Whittle, in his Memoirs of Philip P. Bliss, written in 1877, stated, "’The Light of the World Is Jesus’ was written in the summer of 1875, at his home, No. 664 West Monroe Street, Chicago. It came to him all together, words and music, one morning while passing through the hall to his room, and was at once written out." It first appeared in The International Lessons Monthly of 1875. Its first hymnbook publication was that same year in Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs No. 1.  Bliss and his wife were killed in a train wreck near Ashtabula, OH, when returning to Chicago from a holiday visiting with family in Pennsylvania. He was only 38.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "The Light of the World Is Jesus" is found in only two that I know of–the 1956 Sacred Selections of Ellis Crum and the 1971 Songs of the Church edited by Alton H. Howard. However, those two books held almost universal sway among churches of Christ in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and are still used by many.  As a result the song is quite well-known among us in a number of places.

     The song points our minds to Jesus Christ as the light of the world.

I. Stanza 1 says that Christ’s light shines in the darkness of sin
"The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin;
The Light of the world is Jesus;
Like sunshine at noonday His glory shone in;
The Light of the world is Jesus."
 A. To be lost here means to be outside of Christ, aliens from God, and without hope: Lk. 15.24, Eph. 2.11-12
 B. The reason why the whole world was lost is that it was in the darkness, which is representative of sin: Jn. 3.19-21, Rom. 3.23
 C. Yet, into this darkness, the light of the the glory of Christ has shone in like sunshine at noonday: Jn. 1.4-5, 14

II. Stanza 2 says that Christ’s light provide guidance to us
"No darkness have we who in Jesus abide,
The Light of the world is Jesus;
We walk in the Light when we follow our Guide,
The Light of the world is Jesus."
 A. Since God is light and in Him is no darkness at all, as long as we abide in Jesus, we have no darkness: 1 Jn. 1.5-6
 B. Therefore, it should be our aim to walk in the Light: 1 Jn. 1.7
 C. The means by which Jesus guides us with a lamp to our feet and a light to our pathway is God’s word or truth in which we are to walk: Ps. 119.105, 3 Jn. vs. 3-4

III. Stanza 3 says that Christ’s light enables us to see
"Ye dwellers in darkness with sin-blinded eyes,
The Light of the world is Jesus;
Go, wash, at His bidding, and light will arise,
The Light of the world is Jesus."
 A. Those who live in sin are likened to people whose eyes have been darkened by darkness: Eph. 4.17-19
 B. However, Jesus has the power to make our spiritual eyes see again, if we let Him, just as He made the physical eyes of the blind man see: Jn. 9.1-7
 C. Yet, as the blind man was told to go and wash in the pool of Siloam, so we must come to Christ and meet His conditions to have our sin-blinded eyes opened: 2 Cor. 4.3-4, Eph. 5.8-14

IV. Stanza 4 says that Christ’s light will continue to shine forever in heaven
"No need of the sunlight in heaven, we’re told,
The Light of the world is Jesus;
The Lamb is the Light in the City of Gold,
The Light of the world is Jesus."
 A. As John describes the new heaven and new earth, the New Jerusalem, he says that the city had no need of the sun or of the oon to shine in it: Rev. 21.23
 B. The reason for this is the Lamb, an obvious reference to Jesus Christ: Jn. 1.29, Rev. 5.6-12
 C. Because the Lamb is its light, there will be no night there: Rev. 21.25, 22.1-5

     CONCL.: The chorus then invites all to come to this light:
"Come to the light, ’tis shining for thee;
Sweetly the Light has dawned upon me;
Once I was blind, but now I can see;
The Light of the world is Jesus."
Sometimes this hymn has been used as an invitation song, and it can be a very effective one. It should also encourage Christians to recognize the importance of sharing to a sin-cursed world dwelling in darkness that "The Light of the World Is Jesus."


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s