The collect begins by establishing that Jesus Christ is “the light of the world.” He is the fulfillment of the promise made in the prophecy of our reading from Isaiah this week. This is the second of the “Servant songs” in Isaiah, the first of which we read last Sunday. The prophet speaks in this passage of the Servant’s predestined role of returning Israel to God. Then he goes even further, quoting the Lord saying, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel: I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” This servant, who is “deeply despised, abhorred,” and a slave, will cause the kings and princes of the world to acknowledge him.
This is the truth about Jesus that John the Baptist attests to in our gospel lesson this week. As John saw Jesus walking toward him, he said, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” He then recounted the events of Jesus’ baptism, how the Holy Spirit descended from heaven like a dove and remained on him. The next day, John was standing with two of his disciples when Jesus walked by; again, John said, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” They immediately wish to follow him, and they went with Jesus to the place he was staying. One of them was Andrew, who on his way found his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus, saying, “We have found the Messiah.” Jesus, upon seeing Simon, said, “You are to be called Cephus (which is translated Peter.)”
The light, the illumination, the awareness spreads from person to person to person in this scene. First it came to John at Jesus’ baptism, then it came to Andrew, and then to Peter. But that was only the beginning. John said, echoing Isaiah, that the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world, of all creation. The light will spread everywhere, to all people.
This may be hard for us to believe in dark times, but those are the times when it is most especially true. The love of God and the saving power of Jesus Christ is known in the world in times like these when every follower of Jesus stands up and lets the light in their hearts shine into the world—through acts of kindness and mercy, through encouraging others in their efforts, and through refusing to be dimmed by evil and despair. Just as in the gospel this week, this light spreads from one person to another. Eventually, the whole world can see it.