Summary: Isaiah tells us this newborn Messiah would bring light to a dark world. In what ways is our world "dark" and how does Jesus change that in our lives?
OPENING: Video – Christmas, The Nativity (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu6A9fMLnsY)
(The video was all dramatic music and words on a screen. After the video was done, I spoke the words to open the sermon)
“His birth… foretold in ancient writings a miracle that would threaten an empire.
His birth… would bring forth a revolution in new life, and shine light into a world filled with darkness.
His birth would change the world forever.
His birth would be the greatest gift God has ever given.”
That’s a powerful little video… and it points to SOMETHING that Isaiah saw. In fact, I’m afraid, it also points to something that I had not seen before. At Christmas we always hear these words from Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is given, unto us a Son is born…” Those are stirring words. Powerful words. And we all know that this verse applies to the birth of Christ.
But it seems I’d overlooked something that passage. Something I’d not considered before. “In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” Isaiah 9:1-2
The minute I read this entire section of Isaiah 9, I realized what I’d seen those words before in Matthew 4:13-16 “And leaving Nazareth (Jesus) went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
Isaiah was telling us that this child who was given, this Son who was born, this Messiah - was going to bring light into the lives of those who walked in darkness. In other words: “For a unto us a child is given, unto a Son is born”… and He will bring us light. That was the prophecy that Isaiah proclaimed to us! That was the focus of the promise – this Child was going to bring us Light.
So, is it any wonder that John’s Gospel starts out with these words: “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 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 1:1-5
AND Jesus Himself said: “I am the LIGHT of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in DARKNESS, but will have the LIGHT OF LIFE.” John 8:12
As I was studying for today’s sermon I thought of something I hadn’t noticed before: Luke 2 tells us “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock BY NIGHT. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord SHONE ROUND ABOUT THEM: and they were sore afraid.” Luke 2:8-9
The shepherds were out in the fields BY NIGHT. It was dark and a little cold And suddenly, the glory of the Lord shone round about them. The shepherds were engulfed in light. I don’t think that was done by chance, I think God was engaging in a little “show and tell.” This child born in Bethlehem was to bring light to a dark world, and these shepherds were getting just a taste of what Jesus offered.
So God waited until it was dark… and then He flooded their world with light
ILLUS: One of the most beautiful carols of the season tell us the same thing. I’d like to sing the first verse of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and make special note of the words I’ve highlighted:
“O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see the lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by; Yet in thy dark streets SHINETH the EVERLASTING LIGHT; The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee to-night.”
God repeatedly drives home the fact that we live in a dark world. Paul writes: “…this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are DARKENED in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.” Ephesians 4:17-19