Lighting Up The Darkness
God fearing people believe in Divine light. The Bible says, “God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.” (1 John 1:5) God shone into the darkness by revealing himself through the prophets. As it is written, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105) The Qur'an says, “God is the Light ... We revealed the Law (to Moses): Therein was guidance and light.” (Surah 24:35; 5:44)
Christians and Muslims believe that Jesus Christ is the “Word of God” (Arabic – Kalimatullah). Being God’s Word meant that Jesus brought light. We read in the Injil (Gospel), “The Word became human ... and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness.” (John 1:14,4,5) We also read in Surah 5:46 that Jesus received “the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law.”
A few days after Jesus was born he was taken to the Temple to be circumcised. We read how Simeon spoke a remarkable prophecy while holding the baby in his arms. “He praised God saying, ‘I have seen your salvation which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations.’” (Luke 2:28-32)
This Messianic light was described as “sunrise [that] shall visit us from on high ... to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:78,79 ESB). This fulfilled what the prophet Malachi foretold, “But as for you who fear my name, the Sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.” (Malachi 4:2)
We all know that Jesus performed miraculous healings. But how does this relate to light? Jesus taught that doing good is a way of shining light. “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, NIV)
We read in the Injil that Jesus brought “a great light ... in Galilee where so many Gentiles live ... he healed people who had every kind of sickness and disease. News about him spread far beyond the borders of Galilee so that the sick were soon coming to be healed from as far away as Syria. And whatever their illness ... he healed them all.” (Matthew 4:15,16,23,24)
There is an interesting Arab proverb that throws light on the perplexing prophecy about the “Sun” of righteousness rising with “healing” in his wings. This proverb implies a connection between sun and healing when it advises people: “Go to the sun like you go to the doctor.” It is well known that doctors encourage patients who have a sore on their skin to get morning sunlight as this helps the wound to heal. Moreover, sunlight restores vitamin D which is necessary for our health. Furthermore, sunlight is an antidote for chronically depressed people.
Among the many sick people healed by Jesus there were some who were in critical condition, even terminally ill. Jesus was a beacon of hope to such people. When he intervened they were saved them from dying. We could say that Jesus was their salvation. (Luke 7:2ff; 8:43ff)
Saving people from death takes on a new level of meaning when we realize that Messiah’s light shone powerfully on those living “in the darkness and shadow of death.” Not only so, Jesus raised people from the dead (as taught in the Qur'an and the Bible).
There is another prophecy about light that is worth thinking about. In Isaiah 49:6 we read that God’s Servant, the Messiah, will be “a light to the Gentiles and ... will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Earlier we saw how Jesus Christ is God’s Word (Kalimatullah), and as such, he “brought light to everyone.” Now we will look at Christ’s teaching and see once again the close link between light and life.“I am the light of the world” Jesus said, “If you follow me you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12)
Some years after he had ascended to heaven Jesus appeared to John in a vision and said, “I am the First and the Last. I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever. And I hold the keys of death and the grave.” (Revelation 1:16-18)
John described how Christ’s face appeared “as bright as the sun in all its brilliance.” This stunning radiance shining from Jesus reminds us of the Messianic title, “Sun of righteousness”. This brilliant light implies he is perfectly pure and faultless (cf. Surah 19:19).
May I ask you to consider: “If Jesus really did rise from the dead doesn’t it make sense that he has the keys of death and the grave?” After all, he entered that dark realm and exited successfully! No one else has ever done that!
A Light to Non-Jews
In John chapter 4 we see an interesting example of how Jesus brought spiritual enlightenment to people known as Samaritans. Like their Jewish half brothers they believed in the one creator God, who revealed the Law through Moses. Unfortunately, however, the Samaritans had deviated from the true path in certain ways. Jesus said that they didn’t really know God, explaining that “salvation comes from the Jews.” (John 4:22)
Today many people feel uncomfortable with this kind of remark because it seems narrow minded and prejudiced. Who are we to judge another person’s culture? They forget it was through the Jewish nation that God sent the prophets, the scriptures and finally the Messiah who God promised would bring his salvation. As it turned out, the Samaritans accepted Christ’s loving rebuke. After seeing and hearing him for two days they acknowledged, “He is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42)
In recent years many Muslims have reported seeing Jesus in a vision involving a bright light. Perhaps you (or one of your friends) has seen such a vision.
On the other hand, you may struggle with feelings of suspicion or hostility to Jewish people. Like the Samaritan woman, you may not understand that salvation was predicted to come through the Jews. In one sense, it should not be so difficult for you to accept Al Masihu Isa (Jesus) as Savior when you realize that the Qur'an indicates Allah purposely chose Jesus’ name. Moreover, this name means, “God is salvation” as acknowledged by Muhammad I. A. Usman in his book ‘Islamic Names’ (p. 77).
If you have come to the conclusion that Jesus is God’s light and salvation I would be interested to hear from you so that I can further encourage you. You may also like to contact me if you have any questions you would like to ask.
All biblical quotations are taken from the New Living Translation. All qur'anic quotations are from Yusuf Ali’s translation.