Summary: To discover the light of the incarnation and how the incarnation challenges us to know Christ, live abundantly and be consumed by Him.
(Begin with all lights in worship center off) Darkness. Have you ever been in a place so dark that it felt as if you could reach out and touch the darkness? I’ve been out in the deep woods after dark and I remember not being able to see my hand in front of my face. That was dark. On Thanksgiving night a few weeks ago we came home from a great dinner with friends to discover the electricity was off in our neighborhood. I drove through unlit streets and rows of dark houses. The darkness gave an eeriness to familiar surroundings. When I arrived home I stumbled around in the dark bumping into walls and tripping on dog toys until I found the flashlight. That was dark. But when I think of a place so dark that I could feel it I remember being in a cave a hundred feet below ground at Laurel Caverns in Pennsylvania. It was at that part of the tour where the guide informs us he is going to turn out all the lights…so stand right where you are…so don’t move …so don’t panic…so grab someone’s hand. Then the lights go off. That is a darkness I could feel.
Darkness is a metaphor used often in the Bible to describe the brokenness and sinfulness of the world. The darkness of the world is a darkness you can feel. You can feel the darkness in the misbehaviors of an unloved child. You can feel the darkness when your child spills a drink at the dinner table and you yell at them even though you spill things too and no one yells at you. You can feel it in the eyes of a lonely woman in a struggling marriage. You can feel it in the words of a man trying to explain why his job is more important than his family. You can feel the darkness in a person disparaging Christ in an attempt to sooth his conscious.
The Bible says it this way.
People look toward the earth and saw only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness. Isaiah 8:22
And they will be thrown into darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 8:12
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness. Ephesians 5:11
We live in a broken darkness that you can feel. But in the midst of the darkness there is hope. (lamp post on stage turns on) For there is Someone greater than the darkness. There is Someone who has taken the reins and mastered darkness. There is Someone who is the light. The Bible says…
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not mastered it. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. John 1:1-5, 14
Mid ninetieth century author Robert Louis Stevenson, who was once very ill as a child, recorded a childhood incident in his diary in the mid 1850’s. He was seated by a window at nightfall, watching a lamplighter light the street lights below. His nurse came into the room and asked him what he was doing. “I’m watching a man make holes in the darkness,” he replied. Aqua Church by Leonard Sweet, pg 45-46.
Jesus Himself is the One who is poking holes in the darkness. Jesus is the light that loves an unloved child into a life of purpose. Jesus speaks acceptance and hope to the lonely wife. It is Jesus who breaks through the deception of a workaholic lifestyle and provides a life of balance. It is Jesus who shines light on the impatience of a father and it is Jesus Christ the light who shines the spotlight of Himself on the spiritual seeker.
Light has always been a means for giving direction; for providing hope. When we began the message this morning we began in the dark with the lamppost eventually coming on. It is amazing how our attention and focus was drawn to the light when it came on. And that is the wonder of the incarnation. When Jesus the light shined in the darkness, He captivated attention and drew the focus on Himself. People could not help themselves just as we could not stop ourselves from looking at the lamppost this morning. They had to look toward the light. That is the power of light; that is the power of the incarnation. Just as the lamppost gave Lucy hope for a way home so Jesus the light exposes the emptiness of darkness and gives us a way home to God.