John 1:9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
Was the world prepared for what it was going to encounter that first Christmas? For so long the world had been in darkness. Even the religion of those chosen by God had been corrupted into something other than what God had commissioned. John the Baptist was working to prepare people to turn their hearts back toward God. But did he even know what was to come?
In all that darkness, there was about to be light. Not just any light, but the true light, which enlightens everyone. Jesus was that light. The problem is, not everyone likes to be enlightened. Those who live in darkness often prefer the darkness and resent the light. They’d rather not have light shed on their sinful behavior and their sinful hearts. Jesus would shed that light and people hated Him for it.
The child born on that day in Bethlehem would be the One to conquer sin and darkness once and for all. Where His light is shone, there can no longer be darkness. He could have entered the world on a cloud, in a lightning bolt, or in a single flash of light, but He came as a baby. A precious innocent baby was born that day, and He would soon let His light shine. The true light.
2 Corinthians 4:6 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.
How does God reveal Himself to us? Many have asked this question and many will continue long after we’re gone from this earth, but the answer has been given. God revealed Himself in the form of Jesus, who walked the earth among men, facing our temptations and yet never giving in to them, living a perfect life in perfect harmony with the Father. In Christ, the character of God was revealed and lived out. And in God’s Word, Jesus is revealed to us who never got to walk in His presence on earth.
But to some the gospel is nonsense, they can’t make anything of it. They’ve been blinded to the power of the gospel as though they’re in darkness. But to those of us whom God has called, to those of us who have responded, He has shone a light. He has illuminated Jesus in the gospel to show us the glory of God, and He’s done it in our own hearts.
Apart from God working in us, we can’t understand His revelation, we can’t see Jesus for who He is. But when God gives the light, we can see everything for what it is. His truth is made real, His character is made clear. Then and only then can we begin to know Him.
John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
God sent His light into the world in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was the radiance of the glory of God, the exact imprint of His nature (Hebrews 1:3), and yet when He ministered here on earth people rejected Him. Even though He had existed since before time (John 1:1) and created the world (Hebrews 1:2), the people didn’t see Him for what He was and many made the wrong choice by not following the true Light. They chose darkness.
You and I are given the same choice today – to receive the light, Jesus, or to reject Him. To those who receive Him, that is not only to believe in His existence but to believe that He brings life through salvation by His death and resurrection, God promises the right to become His own children.
He will bring you into His family if you believe that God became a man and lived a perfect, sinless life, one you and I could never live, and that Jesus died to take the penalty for our sins and He raised back to life so that we can have life. Do you believe this? Have you chosen the Light over the darkness? Now’s your chance.
Ephesians 5:13-14 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
It’s no secret that more crime happens in the darkness of night. Those who wish to remain unseen work in the dark. To have light shined upon them would be to expose their deeds. This is true literally, but it’s also very true spiritually.
There’s darkness in our hearts because of sin. Because of our predisposed sinful nature, we move towards that darkness and embrace it; we’re not inclined to move towards the light. That would expose our hidden secrets. It’s painful when the lights get turned on after we’ve been in the dark for a long time.
The light is a gift, though. While it may be the last thing we desire, the light wakes us up. By exposing what’s in the darkness, it frees us to really live. If Christ lives in you, which He does if you’re His follower, then light is something to love, not something to avoid.
So wake up, o sleeper! You’ve been given a new life to live. Let the light shine and work in and through you.
Ephesians 5:8-10 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
Before we’re rescued from our sin, before we put of faith in Jesus to forgive us, we pretty much do whatever we want, yet we’re slaves to our sin, unable to actually make choices that will please God. Once we’ve been saved we’re given God’s help to know what pleases Him. The problem is that sometimes we try to walk back into the darkness instead of remaining in the light.
Many a Christian has asked how far they’re able to go with this or that before it becomes a sin. That’s not how following Jesus works though! It’s not about finding the line and figuring out how much can be done before it’s wrong. It’s about trying to learn what pleases God and doing that. Is that how you live your life?
The Apostle Paul urges us to walk as children of the light, which is what we are once we’ve been adopted into the family of God. We’re not in darkness anymore, we’re not slaves to sin. Make no mistake, we will still sin, but we’re not captive to the sinful heart anymore. When we make choices to cross the line, it’s on us. It’s not because we didn’t know better and it’s not because we couldn’t help it. It’s because we chose the darkness.
We have been given the greatest gift to help us live as God wants us to live. He dwells in the hearts of believers, giving us His guidance and assurance. It’s amazing when you think of just how much God wants us to succeed in following Him. He’s rooting for us to win!
John 1:4-5 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.
Jesus Christ has always been. There was never a time when He was not in existence. He made all things, to include us, and He holds all things together, including our lives. One day, He stepped down into this world, our world, from the perfection of heaven in the darkness.
But because Jesus is the light of all the world, the darkness could not overcome Him. It didn’t stand a chance against the Son of God. He is the true light and in Him is found grace and truth.
Can any darkness exist in a place where light shines? Can any aspect of life remain dark where Christ is Lord? Apply this to your life. Submit to the lordship of Jesus, committing all areas of your life to Him, and He will prevail.
*This devotion first appeared in September of 2010.
Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
What if I won’t want to be a witness for Jesus? What if I just want to belief in Him and not have to tell others anything? The reality is, whether you want to be a witness or not, you already are one. If we had seen a traffic collision take place but tried to tell the police officer that you didn’t want to be a witness, it wouldn’t matter – you already are one.
Even when you choose not to share anything out loud with anyone, the way you live your life is evidence of your faith…or lack of it. For those who don’t learn about God through church or other intentional means, your life is how they gain knowledge about Him. Sounds like a lot of responsibility doesn’t it? But it’s something every Christian is called to.
We’re the light of the world. We’re the keepers of the secret to lasting joy and hope – but the secret is for everyone. A shining city on a hill can’t be hidden, and neither can our lives. What we do and what we say show the world what we think of Jesus and we bear witness everyday. Let’s let our light shine in a way that draws others to want to know God.