Light of the World: Day Twenty
The Light Shines in the Darkness
Read John 1:1-5
President John F. Kennedy is memorialized by what is famously known as the “eternal flame” at his gravesite. Commissioned by his wife, and lit by her at his memorial service, the eternal flame symbolizes two items: first, JFK gave his life to serve his country and second, that he will not be forgotten by his countrymen. There’s only one problem, the “eternal” flame isn’t so eternal. It’s been extinguished twice. Once, only a month after his memorial service when some children spilled water on it, and a second time just a few years later when a heavy rainfall hit Arlington National Cemetery. Despite mankind’s best intentions and inventions, eternality, even for a flame, cannot be accomplished.
Though we’ve already spent time in the Gospels, there’s not much better place to go on Christmas Eve than to the opening verses of the Gospel of John. As we consider the magnificence of the incarnation, these verses offer us a radical perspective on the eternality and deity of Christ. Three main points arise from these first five verses.
First, the opening words of John should immediately sound familiar to us…
In the beginning was the Word…
In the beginning God created…
John begins his Gospel by immediately drawing connections to the beginning in order to prove Jesus’ eternality and thus, his deity. He takes the reader back to creation and shows us that Jesus was not only with God (proves his eternal relationship with the Father) but that he, the Word, was God (proves his co-eternal deity within the triune Godhead). The preincarnate Christ shared eternal deity and relationship with the other members of the trinity. For eternities past, prior to creation, our great God enjoyed the fellowship of the relationship within the three persons of the trinity.
Next, John shows that Jesus wasn’t just a bystander throughout the week of creation but rather, he was the one by which creation was made. Both Paul and the author of Hebrews teach this same theology.
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
John’s third point is that Jesus is the source of life and light. Remember the first recorded words of God:
“Let there be light.”
With these words the eternal, triune God stepped into time and space and dispelled the darkness. This is the first evidence of his omnipotence; the evidence that this God needs only to speak and creation appears ex nihilio (out of nothing). This same triune God is also the Giver of life. While Jesus as Creator gave physical life, Jesus as Redeemer brings spiritual and eternal life.
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.
2 Corinthians 4:6
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The first 4 verses of John’s Gospel speak to what has occurred in the past. But in verse 5 an interesting shift occurs. John stops speaking in the past tense and begins speaking in the present tense.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Just as with creation, when God enters the scene, the darkness is dispelled. This light shines. It has shone. It is shining. It is a continual action. From the moment in Genesis 3:15 when God promised a Savior that would crush the head of the Serpent, the light of hope has shone. Yet now, in Jesus, the light is brighter and clearer as God’s plan for salvation has been fully realized.
It’s no secret that 2020 has been an especially hard year. Yet today as we celebrate Christmas Eve, let us remember that we do not walk through the darkness of this world as those without hope. Rather, we walk through the darkness, as those with the light of life, knowing that Jesus has come that we may have our most serious problem taken care of. This great, eternal, holy, glorious God stepped down from heaven’s throne to be Immanuel, God with us. He came to bring us light, that we might not walk in darkness. He came to give his life that we might have eternal life. Unlike anything man-made, Jesus' light is eternal. The darkness has not, and will not, overcome it.
O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in his wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace.
Action Point: Spend some time today rejoicing in the hope you have in the face of Jesus Christ. Consider the hardships God has brought you through this year and give thanks for the steadfast love he has shown you. Consider the good news that Jesus came to conquer sin and death that in him, we might have abundant life. As you meditate on these realities today, be quick to turn them into praise to the One who is our light and life.