Light That Conquers Darkness
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.”
That’s what Isaiah says – chapter 9, verse 2. What is the darkness? And what is the light, of which the prophet speaks? Regarding the “darkness,” Isaiah refers to people who “walk” in it. Most of us probably readily understand the sense of that, don’t we? It’s something that we ourselves know firsthand. The darkness is something we experience. Something we feel. The prophet is not talking about just the physical darkness of physical night. Rather he’s talking about the spiritual darkness that has taken over our world and that manifests itself in lies and deception and selfishness and arrogance and hatred and every other vice – things that we ourselves have been victims of, but also have been perpetrators of. Every one of us. That’s the darkness.
What is the light? Well, this is, of course, the Christmas season – and Christmas gives us several possibilities. Is the light the star of Bethlehem? It must have been quite a star for the wise men to follow it on what must have been something like an 800-mile journey to that little town. Is the star the light? Well no, that’s not the light.
Was it the brilliance of the host of angels singing above the hills of Bethlehem? That too must have produced quite a light – a multitude of holy angels singing and praising God. But no, that was not the light. No, the prophet himself goes on to explain – Isaiah 9:6 –
"For to us a child is born,
To us a son is given,
And the government shall be upon his shoulder,
And his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and uphold it,
With justice and with righteousness
From this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”
What is the light? Or rather, who is the light? …. The light is the child born in Bethlehem. The light is the Son who has been given. The light is Jesus, virgin-born of a young peasant woman, and laid in a manger at his birth, because there was no room in the inn. And from the very beginning we see his light shining. He is born in a stable because there is no rank in the stable. Everyone can come to the stable – rich, poor, highborn, lowborn, educated, uneducated. Shepherds, who would have been excluded from the palace, are welcome in the stable. No one is excluded from the stable except those who refuse to lower themselves to come. From the very beginning his light is shining as he shows from the very point of his birth that he is a Savior for all people.
And this child of course grows. He becomes a man. And in John 8 he makes this stunning claim: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The gospel-writer John says of Jesus’ light: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
It is true that the darkness often feels deep and great. And it is. We should not try to pretend that it is not. But here, in Jesus, we have a Savior who vanquishes the darkness, no matter how great. This present darkness will not last forever. The apostle Paul says, “the night is far spent; the day is close at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
Come once again this Christmas season. Look at the babe in the manger. Look forward to the cross, and on to the resurrection – and remember that Jesus is the light that the darkness cannot overcome. If the light of Jesus has shone on you, you have nothing to fear from the darkness.