–December of 2009
The Light Has Come!
“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness could not extinguish it” (John 1:5)
In a great piece of music, the composer often begins by stating the themes which he is going to elaborate in the course of the work. That is what John does in the opening of his gospel. Light is one of the great words upon which John builds his testimony of Jesus. John describes Jesus as a light that has come into the world to illuminate the life of every man. Another one of John’s key words is darkness. John saw a darkness in the world that was very real and very hostile to the light. This darkness represents evil. Sinful people love the darkness and hate the light, because the light exposes their wickedness. John takes these two themes and shows their natural opposition. He portrays a universal battleground where the forces of dark and light are arrayed in eternal conflict.
This conflict is played out in the pages of sacred history. The Old Testament lets us witness everything from individual struggles with evil to heavenly warfare for the soul of a nation. In the New Testament this conflict emerges with intensity around the cradle of the incarnate Christ as the forces of darkness unleash Herod’s sword in a futile attempt to eliminate the light. The ultimate battle, however, was staged on the Cross of Christ. The rulers of this age and the powers of darkness thought if they could only nail Christ to the cross that darkness would win once and for all. In fact, it proved to be just the reverse. Out of the darkness of His death came the blinding light of His resurrection victory. The light of this good news exploded out of the confines of Palestine and across the known world like a quickly spreading flame until, in a few decades, the gospel had impacted every major population center of the Roman world.
The powers of darkness responded with persecution and torture. But wild beasts and boiling oil couldn’t put out the light and the blood of the martyrs only fueled the flame. When persecution from without did not succeed, the forces of darkness turned inward and awful darkness settled down over the church. But out of the heart of that darkness, reformation fires began to burn and the light prevailed. Every counter move by the forces of darkness to extinguish the light only brought revival fires that would break out and save lives, transform nations, and change the course of history.
Even in this present moment the darkness of the day is no match for the One who is “God of God, Light of Light.” As you gather with friends this Christmas season, light a candle and lift your voice in praise, for light has come into the world and the darkness has not and will not overcome it!