It’s finally beginning to feel a lot like Christmas now. Not just with all the carols and Christmas songs playing everywhere, but especially with all the Christmas lights shining and twinkling so brightly. Our road has risen to that challenge especially well this year, with reindeer and snowmen and gingerbread men and icicles as well as lights flashing in all colours.
This fashion of lighting up the outsides of our houses at Christmas time may be relatively new, but Christians have been lighting candles at Christmas for almost two thousand years. Some people think we do this to remember the star of Bethlehem which lit the way for the Wise Men to find their way to Mary and Joseph in the stable. But of course the real light of Bethlehem was not the star but the baby in the manger.
Silent night, holy night! Shepherds first saw the light,
Heard resounding clear and long, Far and near, the angel-song:
‘Christ the Redeemer is here, Christ the Redeemer is here.’
Jesus was the light the prophets had been looking forward to. God himself is light. God spoke into the darkness and there was light. Adam and Eve’s disobedience had brought the darkness of sin into the world. But in many places the Old Testament pointed forward to the one who would bring God’s light shining into the darkness once again.
Isaiah 9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. ….
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
Isaiah 42 6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Jesus Christ himself was the fulfilment of all those wonderful promises. He did not just bring God’s light. Jesus himself WAS the Light of the World. Jesus was the Son of God, the Word of God and the creator of everything that exists.
John 1 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
Jesus himself first brought life and light into the world. And he was the light shining in the darkness.
God of God, Light of light, Lo, He abhors not the virgin’s womb;
Very God, Begotten, not created:
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!
5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.
There is a great truth. However dark darkness may become, it cannot extinguish even the tiniest light. And this message of light in the darkness is one the world really needs to hear this Christmas time. For all kinds of reasons the world is feeling like a very dark place to very many people, especially this year. We need to celebrate the light which shines in the darkness and the darkness can never put it out.
John’s Gospel explains the mystery of Jesus’s birth like this.
9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. ….
When Jesus came into the world he did not just bring light. He WAS the light.
On two separate occasions Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world.” And he made this wonderful promise to his followers.
John 8:12 … “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Jesus was the light of God shining in the darkness, bringing life and wisdom and holiness and peace.
Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail, the Sun of righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings,
Hark the herald angels sing Glory to the new-born king!
So we light our candles and switch on our Christmas lights to celebrate the Light of Christ coming into this dark world. For the time being the light is shining in the darkness. And we must allow that light to shine through us. Jesus said to his followers, “You are the light of the world.” But one day the light of Christ will be the only light we need. The book of Revelation gives us this wonderful pictures of heaven.
Revelation 21 22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honour of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
In the heavenly country bright Need they no created light;
Thou its light, its joy, its crown, Thou its sun, which goes not down.
There forever may we sing Hallelujahs to our King.
No more sun. No more stars. We won’t need candles or twinkling Christmas lights any more.
Revelation 22 3 … The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.
May the light which shines in the darkness, which brings life to all human beings, shine brightly into our lives this Christmas time.
O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM, How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee tonight.