The coming of Jesus was, in more ways than one, an invasion of radiance that still shocks the cosmos with the brilliance of infinite, holy love. Just as surely as a star lit the night sky, irresistibly drawing the gaze of those who sought truth and led them to worship Jesus, His life and love today draw the gaze of those who even now crave and seek truth. The love and holiness that shone through His life were beacons to a heart-hungry people who had been locked away from the mercies of God. His mercy and fairness lit His countenance so that when people looked upon His face, they beheld the luminance of the Lord of light.
“Behold My servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen, in Whom My soul delights,” said the Lord of His Son hundreds of years before that first Christmas, “I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up His voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for His law. Thus says God, the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: ‘I am the LORD; I have called You in righteousness; I will take You by the hand and keep You; I will give You as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:1-7 ESV).
When Jesus began His public ministry, He openly declared the heart of God and the heart of His mission when He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19 ESV; Jesus was citing Isaiah 61:1-2a).
At Christmas, we think of baby Jesus. But He became a baby that He might become the Man Who died for our sin, the perfect Lamb of God. And He died the death we deserved that we might be forgiven of our sin and live eternally with Him, the resurrected King of Kings. He came to penetrate the darkness of our ignorance of God, His love and His ways. Today He still invades dark hearts, shrouded with fear and hate, with the hope that only His love can bring.
Darkness in December in the Northern Hemisphere grows, but if God’s people allow Jesus’ light to shine through them, a ray of light pierces through the darkest night of sorrow in the heart, the dreariest dungeon of despair in the most forlorn soul, and the grimmest shroud of bitterness in the mind of the most forgotten.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Isaiah 60:1-3 ESV).
Darkness still covers the earth as people struggle with ignorance and rejection of God’s grace. Yet, to those who finally surrender the shadow of selfishness and confess the stain of sin, His light drives away the nightshades of fear and condemnation and brings to light a true knowledge founded upon eternal truths.
“This is the message that we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7 ESV).
The Christmas story is an annual inspiration that should reassure us with the truth that no matter what we face or fear to face, God is steadily loving us with a profound and perfect love that is not predicated on our living up to the standards of His Law — because we can’t — but relies upon His own mercy for those who still need to be awakened to the life that only Jesus can give them.
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5 ESV).
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 24 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com.” Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at [email protected] Viewpoints expressed are the work of the author.)