Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.
- Ephesians 5:14
In this section of the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul continues the light/dark metaphor that he began in 4:18. The use of light and dark imagery is quite frequent in scripture and is used in a variety of ways. In his book Just Words author and pastor Jacob Preus writes,
Light is one of the most “illuminating” metaphors, common to both the Old and New testaments. The light metaphor does double - even triple - duty. First, light indicates wisdom or knowledge of the truth as opposed to ignorance or falsehood or error. Second, light evokes goodness as opposed to evil, which always seems to lurk in the darkness. Finally, light stance for life as opposed to the darkness where no one can survive for long. 1
In Ephesians 4:8 Paul writes, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” It is easy to see how Paul employs all three aspects of the light/dark metaphor when dealing with his Ephesian readers. Prior to their faith in Jesus, they were ignorant to the truth that is Christ (Eph. 4:16), they were evil, worshipping false gods (Eph. 4:17), and, in their sin, they were spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1).
As sinful people ourselves, we too often walk in darkness. Often times we live as though we don’t know the ways of God or the truth of the Gospel. Sometimes we work for evil rather than good. Too often we chase after things that only bring death. As human beings, even as Christians, we have a tendency to walk in the dark.
However, the truth of the Gospel is that we have been rescued from that darkness. Or perhaps a bit more accurately, in Jesus, God has entered into our darkness. Despite our sin, our lack of understanding, and our disobedience, Jesus shone His light into our world. This is how John puts it in the prologue to his Gospel:
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood [or overcome or mastered] it. 2
This is the reality that we live in as Christians. The darkness has been overcome and there is no chance it can fight back. Evil, sin, and death have all been mastered because of Jesus. So what do we do? How do we respond? Well, Paul urges us, as he has been doing in Ephesians 4:1, to live into that reality.
Christ has shone his light on you. That is the gift of the Gospel. He has come down from heaven in order to bring life to this dead and dark world. Following Paul’s admonitions and by the power of the Holy Spirit, may our lives continue to reflect Christ’s light into this world. Amen.
Don’t forget to join us at 8:45am for Bible this Sunday as we continue our series KNOWN. If you didn’t get the Bible reading guide on Sunday, you can download the PDF version HERE.
1 Preus, Jacob A.O, Just Words
2 John 1:1, 4-5