“We must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:4–5, ESV) (Caps added to pronouns in ESV referring to God the Father, Son, and Spirit)
Jesus was inclusive in the purpose of the Father. Just as He was sent by the Father to accomplish His purposes in the Son which primarily meant the redemption of man, so did Jesus’ disciples to whom He was speaking have purpose as well. This was not a general statement of purpose for all of mankind, but was one made directly to His disciples. These disciples were with Jesus in His ministry and each of them had a role even in their lack of full understanding. God is the One who set their course and who directed their steps. But from their perspective they were disciples of Christ and submissive to His leadership in their lives, but Jesus was about doing the will of the Father resulting in His leading of the disciples being fully in concert with the objectives of God.
As I thought about this relationship between the Son and the Father in accomplishing the will of God I thought about a passage in 1 Corinthians 12, where the fullness of the Trinity is shown in the lives of believers and the church doing this same thing. Even there when Jesus is no longer physically present we find that He is active as the head of His church and the Lord of all believers. We read, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:4–7, ESV)
Here we see that just as Jesus had come to do the will of the Father, the ascended Jesus continues to direct us in ministry. It may not be in a visibly present sense as it was with His disciples, but we have the assurance of God’s Word that this is what He continues to do. Verse 5 tells us that we each serve in varieties of ways but that all of our service is under the lordship of the One Christ. There is no other head given to this role. From beginning to end Jesus has been the One in the Trinity to bring about that which the Father intends. Scripture tells us that everything that was created was created by Him.
“For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent.” (Colossians 1:16–18, ESV)
We also read in 1 Corinthians that the Holy Spirit is intimately involved. Knowing the needs of each believer in relation to his or her service, the Spirit supernaturally enables (gifts) every believer. Working in complete harmony with each other, the Son and the Spirit enable believers to accomplish the Father’s intended outcomes (effects). This is done by our God who works these things in all believers.
Jesus also said that these works were to be done “while it is day.” There was a season to this work. There was a window when the Light of the world would be physically present in the world, and that window would not be open very much longer. When Jesus ascended back to the Father He would not return again until He came to take His church. John’s gospel began with these words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1–5, ESV) As Jesus was preparing to give sight to a man blind from birth He was also going to speak about His coming to give life through opening the eyes of men to see the light which was Him. God incarnate who is Light became man and as the God-man He was the Light of the world which was lost in the darkness of sin. With these words Jesus laid claim to the source of spiritual light.
While we know that His time as man was limited in duration we also know from Scripture that His existence is and always has been eternal. With His returning to the Father He no longer has a direct physical presence here, but we also know that His light did not cease or become dim. Rather, He continues to illumine hearts so that people might believe and provide light for them to live accordingly.