*This post was published in this month’s issue of Faith on Every Corner Magazine. Please check out this amazing (and free!) online magazine at faithoneverycorner.com
It’s impossible to imagine the wonder of Christmas without the brilliance of thousands of twinkling lights. In fact, the lights are one of my favorite parts of the season. As a child, I loved riding in the backseat of my grandparents’ car at nighttime as we drove around our small town ohhhing and ahhhing at all of the festive lights. And without a doubt, our church’s Christmas Eve candlelit service was my favorite service of the whole year. I loved the sense of awe and majesty those candles commanded. As an adult, I still look forward to the cozy glow of the lights from our living room Christmas tree.
Until recently I just assumed the lights were part of the holiday season in that they marked this unique time of the year; that they were nothing more than pretty decorations and tradition. And maybe they are those things. But for those who know Christ, perhaps they serve as a reminder of the essence of Christmas- a reminder that light has come into the world.
The first 5 verses of the gospel of John give us incredible insight into the person of Jesus Christ. It is in this passage we learn the baby who was born in Bethlehem is the eternal Word and the creator of all things. And not only that, but all things were created for him! He himself was the life and light of men, unable to be overcome by darkness.
A few chapters later Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” (John 8:12). He spoke these words during the Festival of Booths, a celebration commemorating God’s faithfulness to the Israelites during their time of desert wandering after the exodus. During this festival, God’s provision of a fiery cloud at night would have been remembered:
“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night,” (Exodus 13:21).
What Jesus claimed here was simply incredible. He said that he was the light; the light to which the pillar of fire pointed.
The glory of God had been in that great cloud night after night. Later, His glory filled the tabernacle and eventually the temple:
“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34)
“Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.” (2 Chronicles 13b-14)
This glory returned in Jesus who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Imagine. The glory of God in the face of a baby. The glory of God laying in a manger.
And this glory forever shines brightly in the face of Jesus Christ. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6).
This light is spiritual life in Christ who raised us from our spiritual deadness. It is the light of our salvation. For as Colossians 3:1 states, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.”
This is the light we celebrate this Christmas season.
700 years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah wrote these words: “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” Praise God that this has been and continues to be so! May we give thanks now and always for the glorious light that entered the world as a newborn child; the light that now sits at the right hand of the throne of God; the light that will reign forevermore.