Jesus the Light of the World
One of the ways in which we recognise that Christmas season is upon us is that when we walk the streets we so many houses decorated with lights. Indeed with every passing year there seem to be more and more lights put up even though so many don’t have a clue as to what Christmas is really all about.
But this association of Christmas with light is so very appropriate – after all light is something that we value as a positive element in our lives and the true meaning of Christmas is very good news indeed.
It’s an appropriate association because light is such a positive element in our lives. Even those dark places – the discotheque and the night club – like to liven things up with their flashing lights.
Light is not an optional extra but an absolute necessity for us. Without light our plants wouldn’t grow and without sufficient light they won’t grow well as the leggy seedlings by the window in my garage testify!
Travellers on the sea have, for hundreds of years, benefitted from the presence of lighthouses warning of dangers to be avoided whether of rocks or of sandbanks.
Without light you’ll find it hard to find what you’ve dropped on the floor at home in the evening. Without light you won’t be able to read the newspaper or that book that you find so interesting. Without light you might even fail to recognise a friend when you pass him in the street.
Light is such a good thing – you wouldn’t contemplate buying a house that had no light in it. We’re so used to being able to flood our rooms with all the light we need at the flick of a switch. In our towns and cities we expect the streets to be lit up at night so we can navigate successfully once the day is over. In fact in the economically developed parts of the world there is now so much light that we can’t get a good look at the night sky anymore because of what we call "light pollution".
There are situations, of course, where we know that light can be dangerous too and so we don’t look directly at the sun; we’re concerned about the use of laser-
But for all the risks we regard light as a good thing.
Have you ever thought about the way we talk positively about the light? Some crime has gone unsolved for some time and then all of a sudden some new evidence is "brought to light". A celebrity has been involved in some shady activities and finally the authorities have caught up with him – and he is put under the spotlight as his behaviour is investigated. We’re facing a problem and don’t know what to do and then a more experienced friend "sheds some light" on the situation for us. Or we’ve been going through a whole series of troubles and difficulties which seem to be going on forever but then hope at last as we catch a glimpse of some "light at the end of the tunnel".
Yes, light is a good thing.
And this should not surprise us one little bit because God declared right at the very beginning that this was so!
Indeed the Bible will later explain this further to us by telling us that God himself is light:
1Jn.1:5 "This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." Not even the slightest hint of any!
These two verses are found one at the very beginning of the Bible and the other almost at the end; in between there are a further 250+ references to light in the Bible. Light is an important subject. I want to refer you to just a few so that you can see how light is referred to positively in a spiritual sense.
Light a Quick Overview
Light – a sign of God’s presence and of his blessing
There were lamps to be kept continually burning in the two places that God gave to his people as places of worship – the tabernacle and the Temple. The
presence of light was a sign that God himself was with his people and his being with them was not a curse or a misfortune it was the greatest of all blessings his people could ever hope for.
Ps.4:6 "Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!"
Light to Guide
Often in their history God’s people stood in need of help and in particular need of direction: they literally didn’t know which way to go and God met them at their point of need and guided them by a pillar of fire which shone light upon them. Following this light the people were taken safely from the land where they had been slaves to their own land which God had promised to them.
Ps.119:105 "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."
Ps.119: 130 "The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
Is.42:16 "And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground."
Light to lighten our darkness ie. comfort and encourage us
Darkness not only causes problems concerning just where we are and which way we are to go but darkness also describes the sadnesses and disappointments and that sense of hopelessness that all too easily can afflict us. The light shining in a dark place was a source of encouragement to his people.
Ps.18:28 "For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness."
Ps.36:9 "For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light."
And with renewed hope morning light becomes a time for new ventures of discovery!
What has this to do with Christmas?
By now some of you are maybe beginning to think ‘that’s all very fine but what has this got to do with Christmas?’
So let me tell you.
Jesus’ coming into the world is described in terms of light coming into the world and not just any old light, this is:
The Light of the World!
The Light of men!
The victorious light that no amount of opposition can successfully extinguish!
The light that shines into the lives of all!
The baby who was born in Bethlehem and breathed his first few breaths in a place usually reserved for animals was no ordinary child. This baby was the Light of the world who would do all those good things that light did as God used it in the OT and more!
This baby was and is God – there is no way one mere man located in the ME at the beginning of what is sometimes called today the common era (but has hitherto been known as the Christian era) could do all the things that are attributed to him if he were not exceedingly special.
He was special and remains special to this day. He will always be special!
He is the light, the light that all of us need to guide and direct us through life. It is not simply that he gave good instruction but his whole life is what counts – it is his life that is described as being the light of men. He tells it like it is and he also lived it like it ought to be lived! As light was a blessing to God’s people in OT days so Jesus God’s blessing for his people today.
My friends Jesus is seriously good news for everyone who will take him seriously. The question is "Will you do that?" "Will you take him seriously?"
By no means everyone did then and they certainly automatically do so now either!
Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ is equated with coming to the light, of receiving and not rejecting it. Jesus is clearly presented to us as someone of inestimable value and worth. He has so much good to bring into our lives indeed he even gives us the life we so desperately need – a life of harmony and peace with our Heavenly Father. The light came into the world in order to seek out and save lost sinners.
But lost sinners don’t always appreciate him preferring to carry on with their existence without him. Perhaps the bright light of his life and teaching hurts too much. After all you know just how painful it can be when you’ve been in a dark room and someone suddenly turns on the light. And in spiritual terms that describes our lives so well. We live without God in the darkness of our lives and while we may feel content with what we’re doing he is not. He shines the light of his son onto our lives and shows us that we have come up short, we don’t match his standards. Some will take this onboard and respond positively receiving Jesus into their lives. Others however don’t take kindly to this divine interference as they see it in their lives. They want to be left alone in their darkened state and oppose the light doing everything they can to block it out.
Which kind of person are you?
Jesus came into the world that first Christmas: it was a necessary stage in the fulfilment of God’s wonderful rescue plan. He didn’t come to spoil your life or to restrict your enjoyment of life but he did come that you might have eternal life, life in all its fullness. Life with a capital L is life lived in intimate relationship with the Lord the Giver of Life not some kind of shadowy existence taken up uniquely with things that will quickly fail us and pass away.
Jesus the Light of the World came into the world so that people like you and me might be adopted into God’s family and constituted his children with a right to the title.
Surely that is the biggest of all gifts any of us could embrace this Christmas? And may it be true of us all!