John A. Braun
Isaiah wrote, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light” (9:2). The words are familiar to every Christian because they are part of a familiar Christmas text. Isaiah went on to identify the light as a child born for humanity who would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6).
Jesus identified himself as that light: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). By the power of the Holy Spirit we have the light in our hearts. We believe in the One whom God has sent to rescue us from the darkness.
But there is still darkness in this world. Jesus reminded us, “Nation will rise against nation. . . . There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events” (Luke 21:10,11). Was he reading our newspaper headlines? Remember he was the Son of God. He knew that disasters such as earthquakes were an ongoing part of history. He also knew more clearly than anyone else the darkness within the human heart.
In spite of the darkness, he came. His message was God’s love for darkened souls—forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and hope. The apostle John (1:1-4) saw the light of the One who was with God in the beginning. It was a light for all mankind. He treasured that light and waited for the time he would leave the darkness for eternal light and life.
But Jesus did not come to remove the troubles of this life. Some in his own day expected him to bring a return to glory for Israel and the destruction of their enemies. They wanted a world without subjection, disappointment, struggle, and pain. Perhaps they interpreted the miracles of Jesus as promises of a perfect life on earth without disease or death. The hope of those in darkness is often a perpetual life of ease without much change except for the removal of what troubles them.
The hope this light gives is different. It looks to God. We have been called out of the darkness, as Peter says (1 Peter 2:9), into God’s marvelous light. Because Jesus came we are declared right and holy; he has suffered for our sins—all that we want to hide in the darkness. Because of Jesus, we stand as children of God and do not shrink in his holy presence or hide from his gaze. We are children of light—forgiven and loved. We hope for a new life after this one is over.
Now we live in a world of darkness. We, like others, experience trouble, pain, and sorrow. Our hope helps us endure these tragedies and wait patiently for life with Jesus. And while we are here, we “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15 ESV). Our lives are transformed and different from the crooked and twisted world that is still blind to the light of Jesus. While we have opportunity, we work to be God’s people here—kind, gentle, courteous, courageous, thoughtful, loving, and persistent in our hope. We remain ready to give an explanation for the hope within to those who ask.
The world remains blind to the light of the gospel. Even at Christmas the world only sees the joy of another holiday rather than a celebration of the Savior’s birth. The lights that shine from decorated trees are attractive and interesting trimmings for all of us. Yet for children of the Light, those Christmas lights remind us that Jesus is the Light that shines in our dark world.
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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 101, Number 12
Issue: December 2014
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