That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world.
There has been a threefold revelation of the Word.
I. THROUGH NATURE. "In the beginning," before there was ear to hear or mind to understand — the mind of God was speaking with itself. There was a Word. Then —
1. The Word is spoken of as bringing the world into being, i.e, God's Word found utterance in creation. A word is an expression or a work. The most expressive of all are not those which the lips speak. The American sculptor gazed upon the sky upon a summer's morning. He went about haunted with the memory of it. It was a necessity for him to express it. Had he been a poet he would have thrown it into words; a painter, on canvas; an architect, into a building; but being a sculptor his thoughts and syllables were expressed in stone. This world is God's sculptured work whereby He speaks out Himself.
2. This creation is a pervading immanence. " He was in the world." Creation is not the work of a Divine watchmaker, who winds it up, leaves it to go by itself, interfering now and then in great emergences called miracles. He is in the world, the life of all that is. The world is the form of which Christ is the Personality. The beauty of the sea-shell and of the field-flower is the loveliness of God. The world is an everlasting anthem hymning God's secrets.
II. THROUGH MAN.
1. Universally: "lighteth every man." Just as the sunlight shines on all, more intensely in the tropics, more feebly at the poles, yet shines on all. Your reason and conscience are the God within you. Thus the Fathers spoke of the wisdom of Plato and others as the unconscious Christ within them. Thus, too, in the Old Testament rulers and judges are called "gods" (John 10:35, 36).
2. Specially: "He came to His own." The distinction is between those who received the light common to every man and those who received the special illumination which entitled them to be His own — the Jewish people, the inspired people. Inspiration is God's acting on man's higher spirit — his worship and reverence. There is an inspiration of genius, but the inspiration of the prophet is another thing altogether. The Jews were not great statesmen, artists, scientists; but the thought of God, the sanctity of duty, moral and spiritual truth were in them as in no other nation on earth.
III. THROUGH THE INCARNATION. God manifested Himself not through what Jesus taught or spoke, hut through what Jesus was and did.
1. Christ was not a transient theophany like the burning bush, the Angel of the Covenant, or the Shechinah glory.
2. But God Himself in man and with man for ever. The application is —
(1) That all that can be known of God is through a revelation. The light of revelation is not contrary to, but complementary of, the light of nature.
(2) That revelation is progressive. In the world; with the world; made flesh. In the world unconsciously in nature; nearer in man; nearest in Christ; the time is coming when He will be still nearer, "when we shall see Him as He is."
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.