"Let there be Light!"
A new life is always exciting! When couples announce to the church, “We’re pregnant!”, we rejoice with them. We watch anxiously as mom’s tummy begins to show and then to expand. When the baby's born, we celebrate! And on that first Sunday when the new baby is brought to the assembly, we fawn over it in amazement. Look at what God has done! We’ve already fallen in love with Noah Talley. We’ll be just as thrilled to meet Amelia Evans soon. And, of course, we anticipate with Dacus and Bella the arrival of their baby girl. Babies are a great blessing!
It’s sad in some ways that Joseph and Mary didn’t get to experience the excitement of Mary’s pregnancy on the level that most do. Sure, they were thrilled to be chosen by God to “raise” Jesus to manhood. But Mary’s pregnancy was scandalous. There’s a good chance she was already starting to show at the wedding. Nazarene tongues were wagging. “Look! I believe Mary is with child!”
“Oh, you hadn’t heard? Word is… the baby isn’t Joseph’s.”
“Seriously? How can he marry her? He should drop her like a bad habit.”
For some reason (maybe all the talk), Mary leaves Nazareth for an extended visit with Aunt Elizabeth. Can’t say I blame her.
After Jesus’ arrival in Bethlehem, the birth announcements come fast and furious. God’s angel army sings to the shepherds. They leave the 90-and-9 in the field to meet the new baby. After spying a brilliant star over Bethlehem, some wise guys from the east scramble to throw a baby shower.
Forty days later, Jesus is taken to the temple where Joseph and Mary dedicate him for service to God. There they meet Simeon who announces that he’s ready for the Lord to take him home. “I can die in peace now; for I have seen the salvation of God. This baby will be a light of revelation to the Gentiles and a glory to the people of Israel.”
The 84-year-old prophetess Anna praises God and preaches to anyone who’ll listen about the coming of the Savior.
It’s interesting that Matthew and Luke are the only two gospels to tell of Jesus’ birth. Mark and John begin their gospels at Jesus’ baptism. Many scholars believe that Mark was the first gospel written. He writes with urgency, so it’s no real surprise that he leaves out the story of Jesus’ birth.
By the time John writes his account of Jesus, he is an old man… maybe a hundred years old. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are complete and copies were circulated throughout the Roman Empire. Maybe John thought that the story of Jesus' birth was “plowed ground.” No need to retell it. So, he said nothing about mangers, shepherds, magi, or singing angels.
Instead, John announced the arrival of Jesus with words like light, life, world, and witness. John the Immerser came to witness about the light—the One who was the light of the life of mankind … the One who brought salvation to the world.
The apostle writes, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own people, but they did not receive him.” (John 1:9-11).
Jesus is the light of the world—the light that shines into the world’s darkness and “the darkness cannot overcome it.” And yet, people—even His own people—said, “No, thanks.”
The contrast between light and darkness is one of God’s favorites. In the beginning, God shouts, “Let there be light!” And instantly, there is very good light. But starting with Adam and Eve, the world once again becomes a dark place. In John 1, it seems as if God is once again shouting, “Let there be light!” as He brings the Word in flesh to dwell among us. The light came into the messy darkness.
A little while later, John writes letters to the church. In his first letter, he writes, “This is the message we received from Jesus. And now we proclaim the same message to you. Here is the message: God is Light—and in Him there is no darkness… none at all.”
He goes on to tell us that light is the best place to live. Good things happen when we live in the light. “If we walk in the light of God, we have fellowship with Him and with each other. And the blood of Jesus His Son continually cleanses us from ALL sin.”
Israel rejected the light. They chose to walk in darkness. They refused to receive the greatest gift God has ever given. What a tragedy!
Where are you walking right now? God offers you the gift of light. But you must choose to receive it. The gift is free. And yet, it will end up costing you everything you have in this life. But don't forget the promise Jesus made to Peter and the disciples in Matthew 19.29, “Anyone who gives up everything to follow me will receive a hundred times more in the life to come.”
Accept the gift. Walk in the light of eternal life. It makes no sense to continue in darkness.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).