Greeting: Jesus comes to give us light and life. Amen.
Text: “I have come into the world as a light so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness.”
Intro: All throughout the Bible, God makes some things very clear to people. He is the Creator and Giver of light and He does not want people to have to live in darkness. He makes the point in the record of His creation of the world. God said: “Let there be light.” And there was. He makes the point again in the ministry of Jesus, when Jesus healed blind men and gave them the ability to see. God makes the point in the First Epistle of Peter, when Peter rejoices in a God who calls us out of spiritual darkness to live in His glorious light. God is firm in His resolve and desire that He wants us to live in the light and not in the darkness.
Perhaps God says this most clearly in the words of Jesus, recorded in John 12:46. Here the Savior announces: “I have come into the world as a light so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness.”
Christmas is the time when God sent His best and most brilliant light into the world. He sent His light in the form a Baby, born of Mary in a stable in Bethlehem of Judea. God’s gift of this special light started off small with the infant Jesus entering the world like a tiny, flickering flame. At first, God’s light seemed so small, so fragile, so unimpressive to the human eye. But that tiny flame would grow in size and strength. Later, Jesus would burn more clearly with His brilliant life of love and holiness. Later, Jesus would burn more brightly with His majestic works of healing and deliverance. Later, Jesus would burn more powerfully as He mightily resisted the Devil’s temptations and accusations. Then, at the end of His earthly life, when His bright light appeared to be extinguished forever in death, Jesus came back to shine even more brilliantly and powerfully in His resurrection. Now and always, He shines radiantly through His Word to bring light and life to the souls of many people.
On this Christmas Eve, it is good for us to think about the gift of God’s special light sent to shine for us. Scholar C.F. Bundy once reflected on the helpful characteristics of light. His observations can help us appreciate the blessings of the light the Christ Child came to give us.
The first thing C.F. Bundy says is that is the nature of light to break through and dispel the darkness. Perhaps you’ve been in a dark room or a dark cave with no trace of light. The darkness covers everything and you can’t see a thing, not even your own hand. When darkness envelops us, we become isolated and separated. We become unaware and uncertain of what surrounds us. We become lost and aimless. We easily lose our confidence and give in to fear and despair. But when light enters our darkness, things change. The darkness is broken through and driven back. It loses its hold on us and we can be calm and confident. Christ came as a light to break through the spiritual darkness that surrounds us because of our sin. He comes to drive away the things that make us alone, unsure and afraid. This little Baby in Bethlehem come to bring God’s light so we don’t have to be in darkness any more.
The second thing Bundy mentions about the nature of light is that light reveals things that the darkness hides. Maybe you’ve tried playing the game: “Pin the tail on the donkey” where you are blindfolded, spun around and then challenged to take a pin and put it on the proper part of a donkey on a wall. After you have placed your pin, you take off the blindfold and see how well you’ve done. It is very interesting and entertaining to see what people do with a pin and a donkey tail when they cannot see. When the light shines, we can see what we could not see before. When Christ’s light shines on our lives, we can see so many things. We can see the truth of things. We can see things that are right and things that are wrong. We can see errors we’ve made and problems we’ve caused. We can see hurt we’ve inflicted and help we’ve denied. We can see the sins we’ve committed and the punishment we’ve deserved. It is not pleasant to see, but it is real and true and important to recognize so we can renounce our rebellion against God and repent of our sins.
Christ’s revealing light shows us more. It reveals the story of God’s love for sinners and His determined efforts and sincere offer to rescue us. It shows us a holy life, a sinless sacrifice, and a sufficient payment all given by Christ for us. It shows a complete pardon, a divine acceptance, and a heavenly Father’s favor all freely granted from God’s gracious heart. It shows us a sure and safe path to follow that leads to the brighter and eternal light of a heavenly home. It shows us the deliverance that the Christ-child came to accomplish for us.
A third point C. F. Bundy makes about the nature of light is that it provides warmth and promotes health. The light of the sun warms our bodies and the rays of the sunlight keep us healthy in body and mind. We hear about the people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and how limited exposure to sunlight brings gloomier thoughts and debilitating depression to them. Jesus Christ, God’s bright light, comes to warm and comfort us, to heal and energize us in the depth of our souls. In Malachi 4:2, God speaks about Jesus as a rising Sun who does this. He says: “But for you who revere My name, the Sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.” What a beautiful picture of the warmth and healing Christ brings to human hearts.
One day a non-Christian was challenging the faith of a Christian co-worker. He said to the believer, “What does your Christianity get you? I live in the same world you do. I have the same sun to warm me that you have. The Christian responded, “I have to disagree with you. It’s true that we share one sun that warms us, but I have two suns. I have the sun that warms my body, but I also have Jesus, the Sun of God, to warm my soul.” At Christmas we are two remember that God has given us a second Sun, the one who comes to warm and comfort us to the depths of our souls.
C.F. Bundy made one final observation about the nature of light. It was this: Light is more helpful to you the closer you are to it. The closer we are to God’s Light, the better we can see, the warmer we can stay and the safer we are. As we celebrate the entrance of this wondrous Light into our world, may we recognize it as a time for us to get closer and to stay close to Christ in our worship, our study, our thinking and our living.
God’s Son, Jesus Christ, has come as a light into the world. May He shine brightly through His Word into your hearts and may He keep you from ever returning to the darkness. Amen.