The Light in the Darkness
Isaiah 9:1–3; John 1:1–9
The light shines in a land of darkness. (Isaiah 9:1–3)
Light produces something special. During the Christmas season, houses and stores are transformed as they are adorned with lights. Light beautifies. The very first act of creation in Genesis 1 occurred when God said, “Let there be light.” Light illuminates, reveals, attracts. Light drives out the darkness.
My eyesight changed when I reached age 50, and now I need to wear glasses to read small print. However, when the light is bright, I can read the small print without the glasses. Light brings clarity.
Seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ, the prophet Isaiah, by divine revelation and celestial observation, saw a coming wonderful light that would bless the land of Zebulun and Naphtali (v. 1). These people lived in a land of darkness, and they were the doormat for every invading army. To the other Jews, they were stigmatized because they intermarried with foreign Gentiles. They were outcasts. They were far from Jerusalem and far from the temple. This was the last place anyone in Isaiah’s day would expect God to do something significant.
Yet, to these overlooked and downtrodden people, God was going to send His one and only Son. Ultimately, Jesus would grow up in Nazareth, in the tribe of Zebulun.
Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness. (John 1:1–4)
The Apostle John echoes Genesis 1:1 when he writes, “In the beginning was the Word” (v. 1).
The Word (logos) is Jesus. Colossians 1:15 states, “The Son is the image of the invisible God.”
John also identifies Jesus as the source of life and light. Light is necessary for life. Without it, photosynthesis is impossible, which means no life-sustaining plants to provide nourishment and scrub the atmosphere. Jesus is light, and Jesus is the source of life.
As the light shines in the darkness, those who are first experiencing it are confused. They cannot comprehend it. When the light of Jesus shines on the human heart, it has the effect of drawing men like a moth to the flame — but there can be an opposite reaction, as men often are repulsed by it. The darkness can be more comfortable and familiar to those who don’t want to see themselves clearly.
John tells us that darkness cannot overcome light (v. 5), and I am always amazed how, into the darkest places, one small candle can bring illumination.
Illumination brings understanding and understanding leads to freedom.
Jesus gives light to everyone. (5–9)
John tells us that Jesus is not the light for just a few, but for all men (v. 4). This was a revolutionary message that the Messiah was coming, not just to the Jews, but to the whole world.
John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, came as the forerunner to the Christ (v. 23). Some in that day looked at John to be the light. However, as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so John reflected the glory of Jesus, the Son of God. John’s purpose was to point all men to Jesus.
In 1 John 1:5–7, the Apostle John makes this powerful declaration: “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.” He encourages believers to walk in the light as He is in the light. “Walking” in Bible terms speaks to a lifestyle. The benefit of walking in God’s light is that we have deeper fellowship with each other.
In 1 Peter 2:9 we’re told we are “God’s special possession, that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.”
This Christmas season, may we, like John, point men and women to the source of light and life, forgiveness and peace, hope and joy.
By Don Fugate
Fugate is senior pastor at Foxworthy Baptist Church in San Jose, California.