03. The Witness To The Light (1:6-15)

 There was a man sent from God; his name was John. He came for a witness, that he might witness concerning the Light, that all might believe through Him. He was not that Light, but that he might witness concerning the Light. He was the true Light; He enlightens every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave authority to become children of God, to the ones believing into His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but were born of God. And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. And we beheld His glory, glory as of an only begotten from the Father, full of grace and of truth. John witnesses concerning Him, and has cried out, saying, This One was He of whom I said, He coming after me has been before me, for He was preceding me. (John 1:6-15)

…It may be evident that the Divine Being (Esse) cannot communicate itself to anyone except by the Divine Existing (Existere), that is, the Divine itself cannot communicate itself except by the Divine Human, and the Divine Human cannot communicate itself except by the Divine truth, which is the Holy of the Spirit. (Arcana Coelestia 6886)

The Divine truth proceeding from the Lord is the light which illuminates the mind of man, and constitutes his internal sight which is that of the understanding. The subject treated of in these passages is concerning the Word, which is the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord. (Arcana Coelestia 9399)

In the Word it is read that Jehovah God dwells in light inaccessible, who then could go to Him, unless He were to dwell in light accessible? that is, if He did not descent and assume the Human and become in this the light of the world. Who cannot see that to go to Jehovah the Father in His light, is as impossible as for one to take the wings of the morning, and by means of them fly to the sun. (True Christian Religion 176)

Last time we left off our reading with this statement drawn from verses 4 & 5 where it says,

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:4-5)

The condition of our mind prior to our regeneration in regards to spiritual things is nothing but gross darkness; we actually have no capacity of ourselves to grasp anything pertaining to spiritual realities. Any genuine comprehension we have of such things is from the Lord alone or from the truths of the Word which is really the Lord with us. We should never be tempted to attribute our understanding of spiritual things to our own intellectual ability. All power in this regard is from the Lord who gives us the ability to reason about truths but more importantly, grants us the ability to love them by responding to the challenges they make on our life in freedom.

Our spiritual life is found in the Word alone, in Divine Truths. For these are able to enlighten our minds so that we can see into the nature of the darkness that binds our sense of self to selfish attitudes and perspectives. While the loves of self and the world have the chief place in our lives, we remain unable to see the way forward. The light shines but as the Scripture declares, it is incomprehensible until we see that the Lord is the Word which is the Divine Truth itself.

We are so far from comprehending this that when we first begin to awaken to spiritual life, the Lord, ever sensitive to our lowness of state makes provision so that if we are willing to live from the truths which we have in our possession, we may be led into the light. This provision is in the form of a witness – a witness to the light, a witness concerning the Light.

But what is this witness?

Remember we are not looking at these things in terms of historical characters in time but rather in terms of their living reality in our experience in the here and now. So the first three things we discover regarding this witness to the light is that it is described by three terms, the first is man, the second is the name John, and the third is the phrase sent from God. Each of these terms describes this thing called the witness of the light. So let us deal with each of these terms and see if we can come into a fuller understanding of what this witness to the light might be.

Firstly, the term a man, in the Greek is anthropos, which literally means human faced. This connection of the witness to what is human is spiritually significant and points to a key teaching concerning how the Divine accommodates Himself to the human mind as the Divine Human. Next, of this anthropos we see it is given a name. Names in Scripture reveal the character or nature of the thing to which the name is attributed. So this anthropos is described as to its nature or quality by the term, John which means Jehovah is a gracious giver. And finally we see that this anthropos is sent from God.

In the previous article, it was emphasised that in John’s usage, the term God is interchangeable with the concept of Divine Love. The focus here is on elucidating how the Divine Love operates through the medium of the Word. Essentially, God or Divine Love reaches us by sending forth the human or anthropos. Spiritually, this implies that due to the detrimental impact of self-interest on clouding the mind and hindering its ability to comprehend truth, the Divine Love sends forth a witness, referred to here as a man, or human face from God. This is considered a precious gift, particularly noteworthy as the name John carries the meaning Jehovah is a gracious giver.

While the literal sense mentions a man named John sent from God, and the natural mind interprets it as a reference to a historical person and event, the spiritual mode of thought perceives it not in historical terms but as ongoing spiritual activity. From this spiritual perspective, the focus shifts to understanding the meaning of these words in relation to our connection with the Word. In spiritual terms, the term John is not to be construed as the name of an individual man but should be viewed as a depiction of the nature of what God sends forth from Himself—a human form adapted for finite minds. The Lord alone embodies the quality of being a gracious giver; this is the lesson conveyed by the use of the name John in this context. The choice of the name John, Jehovah is a gracious giver, directs our attention to this timeless truth. The nature of Divine Love is such that it inherently seeks to bestow all that it possesses upon another. Therefore, we can say that God, being Divine Love, is perpetually engaged in the act of giving itself.

This gift from the Lord is a witness to the light or the Divine Truth, and because it is described as human faced, it is therefore a witness to the true face of a genuine humanity, or if you like a witness to what is truly Human. If this witness is sent forth from God, then it must be of God which means that it carries within it a testimony as to the true nature of the Divine Love, for what comes forth from the Divine can do nothing else but bear witness to the Lord’s nature.

As human beings we can only receive from the Divine what is in a human form. We have no capacity to receive the Divine as He is in Himself because we are finite whereas He is infinite, and the finite cannot grasp the infinite. Thus, if we are to receive what God or Divine Love gives, then this love must present itself to us in a human form, in a form that we are capable of grasping within the bounds of our limited finite minds. So we see that this form is described in the Scriptures as a man, as human faced, as a human sent from God to testify concerning the light. The term man then is not a reference to a historical person but to the quality of what is truly human, of which we have the opportunity to come into contact with and enact every day.

This witness is ever present for us in life, we just need our eyes opened to appreciate its closeness to us. For God as the gracious giver never ceases to shed forth His gift of life, ever seeking to point us to the Word as the Lord who is the one true light. Have we heard or seen His witness today? Have we seen this man – the human face of God – called John? Or are we so in the darkness that we are unable to grasp even this? John cries out in the barrenness that is our lack of understanding in spiritual things, he calls out as the voice of one crying in the wilderness. To begin to hear this cry we must come to see what the human face that God sends us is.

The face of anything is its surface. And in the case of human beings our faces are the most expressive part of us. When it’s expression is true to what is within then our mental and affectional states are represented in a corresponding physical form for all to see and read. In our facial expressions we reveal what we are experiencing within, whether it be happiness, joy, contentment, or pain, grief and anger.  Every emotion has a corresponding facial expression through which the state of our world within, can be re-presented to the world without. So spiritually the face corresponds to and reveals what is more internal.

The human face is designed to express the affectional or emotional states of our mind and also serves to give expression to the thought, although the latter is primarily by means of the voice. If this is the function of a face, then where do we find the human face sent by God? Such a face must reveal the nature of the Lord to us and if it does this then its expression will be one of love, mercy, compassion and goodness, for this is what the Lord is. And where do we find the voice that points us to this Divine Truth, this witness to the light? For that which is able to reveal the mind and heart of God to our comprehension must be the witness spoken of here.

Can we see then that this witness is really the Word itself?

The historical man that we know as John the Baptist when spoken of as the witness to the light, is in fact a symbolic representative of the true witness to the Divine truth, which when we think about it can only be the Word itself in some form. Why? Because it is the Word that testifies concerning the light. It is the Word that is both the witness of Itself and the Divine Truth Itself therefore, it alone can be said to be from God or from the Divine Love. For the Lord is Divine Love and Divine Wisdom and that which comes forth from Love and Wisdom as the living presence of the Lord in our midst is every form of goodness and truth that is able to touch the human heart and enlighten the human mind.

Of this witness it is said in verse 8…

That one was not the Light, but [he came] so that he should testify concerning the Light. (John 1:8)

All that is said of John the Baptist in the Word when understood spiritually, teaches us concerning the uses and function of the literal sense of the Word. The literal sense of the Word is a vessel that holds within it deeper levels of meaning and these are referred to as the Celestial and Spiritual senses of the Word. So these three senses or levels of meaning, the literal, spiritual and celestial, are all contained within the literal sense.  And each, on its own level bears witness to the light or the Divine Truth, even as John in the Gospel narrative points his hearers to the Lord’s Word’s internal sense as the light. However, none of these senses are the light as it is in itself, for no finite human mind can grasp that light. So, all levels of meaning then are in fact accommodations or, using the language of John’s Gospel, witnesses of the light or Divine Truth, tailored to the limitations of finite minds. And if we approach the Word then with the understanding that the Lord is present within it and nowhere else, then that the Lord can bestow the capacity to comprehend its testimony that the Word is actually the Lord in His Divine Human.

When we look to the Word as the source of our life seeking to understand it in the light of the principles for Spiritual Christianity, so then we can be enlightened as to those things within us that stand opposed to, and prevent us entering into a greater sense of the reality of the heavenly life. Armed with this light we have truths accommodated to our understanding that open up possibilities for our spiritual regeneration. For once truths are active in our life, we are empowered to make choices that involve resisting our evils and promoting what is good.

The literal sense of the Word or John the Baptist calls us to repentance, to walk a different path from the world, from what our senses would have us believe. It teaches who the Lord is and where he is to be found and so bears testimony to the light or Divine Truth and in this sense, tells us about the light but is not the light itself. This light, to which the literal sense points, can only bring life to those who are willing to act in accordance with their understanding of Word, who act on the voice of the witness and order their lives according to it. So we read of the light that…

He was in the world, and the world came to be through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become children of God-to the ones believing [or, trusting] in His name, who were begotten, not from [or, by] bloods, nor from a will of flesh, nor from a will of a man, but from God. (John 1:10-13)

Those who embrace the Word of life are granted the authority to be born of God. The Word, or Divine Truth, plays a transformative role in reshaping our minds into a receptacle for the heavenly life when we live in accordance with its testimony, in accordance our understanding of its demands on our lives. To receive the Lord is synonymous with living by the Word. Those who embody this principle are the ones born of God, and in them, the Word becomes flesh and dwells within.  

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