Summary: John was the witness to the Light. What was that light, and what does John’s testimony tell us about our role in Christmas?
OPEN: A Nashville grandfather took his four-year old grandson out in the woods to select a Christmas tree. They tramped all over, but the boy couldn’t find a tree that suited him. Finally, it began to get dark and cold, and the grandfather shook his head and said: "We’ll HAVE to take the next tree." he said flatly.
The boy looked up in bewilderment: "Even if it doesn’t have any lights either?"
It’s a little wonder that boy was confused… Christmas is a time of lights. It’s said that about 500 years ago, Martin Luther lit the first "Christmas tree". Granted he used candles – which was a bit unsafe – but from that day on people lit candles in their homes to decorate for the season.
Then, in 1895, someone invented the first Electric Christmas tree lights.
Now, all thru December, the evenings will be lit up as homes, businesses, and city streets fill the night with beautiful colored lights and decorations. Some communities even have competitions to see who can put up the prettiest and most colorful light displays.
And that seems fitting - because the Birth of Christ was also decorated with lights.
· There were the Angels who lit up the night for the Shepherds.
· And the Star in the East which led the Wisemen to find Jesus.
Christmas is a time of lights. And that’s only right… because Jesus is the light of the world.
That’s what it tells us here in John 1.
John 1:4-5 “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”
In John 8:12 Jesus… said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
And again in John 12:46 Jesus declared “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”
That’s what the prophets had predicted about the coming Christ:
Malachi 4:2 for example declared: “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings…”
The Prophet Isaiah described Jesus’ coming this way: “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.” Isaiah 9:2
It’s a repeated theme:
Jesus is the light of God to a people filled with darkness.
ILLUS: One atheist admitted to being puzzled by that.
Hemant Mehta became the "eBay atheist" when he posted his soul on eBay… and later he began accepting bids to visit churches and then share his thoughts.
"I didn’t want anyone to be able to tell me that I was just an atheist because I had never even thought about Christianity," Mehta says. Some 30 church services later, he’s still an atheist.
But… Mehta observed:
"At one church I visited, some people were asked to write down how they felt before and after becoming Christian. They said things like ’dark and light,’ ’lonely and befriended,’ which got me wondering: Is being down or lonely or desperate a prerequisite to finding God? …Do I have to go through some sort of trauma or crisis before finding some ultimate meaning?"
Outreach Magazine Newsletter, February 2007
I can understand his confusion, because I’ve seen people who’ve made dramatic changes in their lives. They’ve turned from darkness to light… from lonely to befriended… from dominated by sin to being dominated by Christ.
BUT, you don’t need to make such a dramatic turn around to become a Christian. Eleven and 12 year old kids have rarely had the time experience the darker sides of life. They haven’t lived with darkness. They haven’t tasted it, or felt it, or suffered from it.
But they do understand enough of their own personal darkness (sin) to want Jesus.
They can still know enough to believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God.
They can still know enough to understand their sin and their need to repent.
They can still know enough to confess as their Lord and Savior
And be buried in the waters of baptism and risen up to walk in newness of life.
The people who caught Mehta’s attention were those who HAD lived with darkness, and tasted it, and felt it, and suffered it’s pain and sorrow. For them, the contrast is obvious because their darkness was so black and empty.
And when Mehta looked at these folks… he missed the real genius of Christ.
You see, it’s the lives of people who’ve lived in the depth of the blackness of despair that proves the power of Jesus’ light. They’re the kinds of people which “polite society” would cast aside as ‘undesirable’.