Isaiah 60:1-3 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.  Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”

This is the continuation of a ‘Thus says the LORD’ speech that began in 59:20.  The nation of Israel justifiably interprets this as addressed to themselves, applying the prophecy to the time when their promised Messiah would come.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Jesus would claim its application to himself, and the validity of this claim is abundantly clear from our present-day perspective.  What is sad is that not many Jewish people, relatively, are embracing it for themselves – although when the ‘light’ does shine for them it is so exciting, for them and for us!

It was this very claim of Jesus that so upset the Jewish hierarchy in his own day, and that ultimately led to his crucifixion.  Every time Jesus used the term ‘I AM’ (or ‘It is I’, or ‘I am he’, etc – cf Exodus 3:14) throughout the Gospels he was inviting their intense opposition because, from their (wrong) perspective, it was the height of blasphemy (cf John 8:58-59).  Jesus’ statement, “I AM the Light of the World” (John 8:12, 9:5) fitted Isaiah’s prophecy perfectly, and this fact is even clearer to US as we see the evidence of all the wonderful light the Gospel has been bringing to break through the darkness of our world for over 2,000 years!

Jesus also declared to his disciples, and to us by extension, “You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).  Doesn’t all this make our task of ‘mission’ all the more exciting, and doesn’t it give us encouragement to go about this task with greater enthusiasm and confidence?  I hope it does – especially when the LORD declares to us through Isaiah: “Nations WILL come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn”.

This is why Jesus could commission his disciples as he left them: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore, having gone, make disciples of ALL NATIONS, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely ‘I AM’ with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20)!
– Bruce Christian