And that Life was the Light of Men: Jesus as God’s Revelatory Agent to Humanity in John’s Gospel

This paper investigates John’s collocation of Christology and anthropology in his Gospel. I identify how John’s introduction of Jesus as the light of men in John 1:4 establishes a rubric for Jesus’s interaction with humanity, those living in the sphere of darkness and needing redemption. After reporting how Jesus cleansed the temple complex in John 2:13-22 and gained followers there, John comments that Jesus did not entrust Himself to humanity because He knew all men and Himself knew what was in man (John 2:24-25). John’s collocation of Christology and anthropology at the conclusion of John 2 provides a rubric for how Jesus interacted with, among others, Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), the Samaritan Woman (John 4:1-42), the Man Born Blind (John 9), and Pilate (John 18-19). The body of this paper will investigate how Jesus used Scripture, rhetorical questions, and miracles to illuminate the brokenness of these individuals as representatives of humanity, bidding them to see God’s redemptive purposes in Himself.

This paper begins by recognizing that John’s Christology synthesizes Old Testament references to light as a metaphor for revelation and redemption. In Ps 27:1, the psalmist proclaims that God is his light and salvation, and in Ps 104:2 states that God wraps Himself in light. Isaiah prophesies that those walking in darkness will see the light of God’s presence (Isa 9:2). The prophet announced that God would make His servant a light for the nations (Isa 49:6) and that God would be the everlasting light of His people (Isa 60:19-20).

In the conclusion, I reiterate that one throughline in the Gospel of John is how Jesus, as God’s revelatory agent, interacts with various individuals of humanity to help them see their spiritual states. In addition to what I note above, in John 8:12 and 12:46, Jesus exclaims that He is God’s light come into the world. In John 11:9-10, Jesus implies that those who follow Him will share in His light. In John 12:35-36, Jesus reiterates that He is God’s light come into the world and explicitly states that those who believe in Him will be children of light. By grasping the way that John uses light as a metaphor that expresses Christology in relation to anthropology, my readers will be equipped to (1) recognize the relationship between Christology and anthropology in the Gospel of John, (2) appreciate the fellowship with God that they enjoy in Jesus, and (3) articulate Jesus’s saving actions and deeds to lost humanity.

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