He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light
Jesus referred to John as “a burning and shining lamp,” where people “were willing to rejoice for a while in his light” (John 5:35). Here, however, we have a clear distinction and a definite statement: “He was not the light.”
To help us understand this, let’s consider the following: man was made in God’s image and likeness. Yet, man isn’t God, but has been created to reflect Him. What about the analogy of an original painting versus a replica? One is the original one while the other is not. To me, the best illustration is the moon receiving light from the sun and reflecting it accordingly. That seems to be the essence of Jesus being “the light of the world” (John 8:12) and we being “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). We receive His light in order to reflect it accordingly.
John made it clear that John the Baptist “was not the light.” He was not to draw attention to himself, but to point to “the true light” (v. 9). He was to point to Jesus, “that all might believe through him.” That’s the essence of being a witness—reflecting Jesus’ light and pointing toward Him.
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The Devotional Writer
Author of “An Unfathomable Gift!“