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A sphere of hot plasma rises every morning in the sky and disappears from the horizon every evening. This has happened on schedule every day of my life. I’m told it did the same before I was born and will continue to do so after I’m gone. I feel its heat in the summer and appreciate its gentle warmth in the winter. Some call it a yellow dwarf, others a fireball. It’s not surprising that ancient cultures recognized the life-giving qualities of the sun and ascribed deity to the distant sphere, transforming it into an idol to be worshiped rather than a gift for which to be grateful.
Since God created all things for His own glory, I believe one reason we have a sun at the center of our solar system is because Jesus would come to earth one day and tell us He is the light of the world, the light of life, and the light of men. What better picture could be painted before our mind’s eye than that of daylight from a bright shining sun?
God graciously condescends and speaks to us in words we can understand, not a heavenly language that only an elite few can grasp. As the psalmist says, “In your light we see light,” meaning God the Holy Spirit shines light on the Scriptures as we read them, enabling us to apprehend life-giving and life-transforming truth, pointing us to Jesus page after page.
Seven hundred years before Christ was born in Bethlehem, Isaiah prophesied of a coming light that would penetrate the darkness of the world as well as the darkness of our hearts.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. (Isaiah 8:2)
In the fields outside of Bethlehem on the evening of Jesus’s birth, shepherds experienced the startling effects of one angel and then a multitude of angels lighting up the night sky in a stunning display of God’s glory. I think we can safely assume the shepherds had never experienced anything like this, with fear being their natural response.
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. . . And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! (Luke 2:9}
And another light, that of a star, led the Magi to the home of the young boy Jesus.
Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. (Matthew 2:2)
When Jesus walked on earth, He spoke of light, especially in regard to Himself.
I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. (John 12:46)
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)
And then, knowing the hour of his death was soon coming, Jesus told His disciples that “the light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you.”
But a Roman cross didn’t have the power to snuff out this light. Death could not hold Him for He is the sinless One.
Have you fled the darkness and come to the light—Jesus Christ— that you might have life?
A day is coming when time will be no more, when followers of Jesus will live in a city that has “no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.” On that day, we will rejoice knowing that the Light has overcome all darkness forever and ever.
This is the story of Christmas, the coming of the One who is the image of the invisible God—God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God. His penetrating light exposed the darkness of this world and the sin of our hearts as only His perfect innocence could.
But He didn’t leave us in that hopeless condition. Jesus obeyed His Father all the way to the cross, where His sinlessness shone brighter than ever, becoming our substitute as He absorbed the wrath of God against our sin—as we sing every Christmas, “Christ was born for this.”
The incarnation of Jesus is all about light and glory—the light and glory of God, the light and glory of a Savior, the light and glory of transforming grace, the light and glory of an eternity in which we will forever praise the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Joy to the world! The Lord of light and glory has come.
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
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