The Light of the World
BY JORDAN MAYER
“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.”
When I was younger, I used to play a game with my brothers where we would go downstairs to the family room, close all the doors, shut off the lights, cover the windows, and then try to find each other in the near pitch-black room. Each of us would stumble about with arms outstretched, unable to see what obstacles might be in our way. In the context of our game, it was all part of the fun. But given a different set of circumstances, this darkness would be a source of unease, helplessness, and fear.
The Bible speaks of another kind of darkness. But rather than being physical, this darkness is spiritual. It describes the nature and condition of every single person in the world. As Proverbs 4:19 describes it, “The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” As a result of our sin, we have become blinded to the things of God. We are both unwilling and incapable of accepting God’s truth (1 Corinthians 2:14). We walk about in spiritual darkness, actively choosing, and even loving, the dark that is our sin (John 3:19).
This state can be likened to the condition of the world described in Genesis 1:2. Darkness covered the deep. The earth was formless and void. In the absence of the light, there was only chaos and disorder. There is a wonderful word in Hebrew, Tohu v’vohu, that we translate as formless and void, or literally wild and waste. The idea is that the world is still in a state of disorder, of emptiness. It is unlivable. But then we read of God’s Spirit hovering over the waters, suggesting that God was about to do something about the present situation.
By the mere words of His mouth, God speaks light into existence. "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." (Genesis 1:3) In an instant, this formless darkness explodes into light and God sees it as good. He then proceeds with His masterful work of creation and finishes by calling it very good! (Genesis 1:31) This emergence of light is the pivotal moment that ushers in God's beautiful order, structure, and life into creation.
All throughout Scripture, we find this pattern of light closely connected to God's working power. Later on in the New Testament, we see this pattern of light show up again. An angel appears to shepherds out in the field, "and the glory of the Lord shone around them" (Luke 2: 9). The angel brings news of the birth of a Savior, Christ the Lord. Wise men from the east follow a star to find the Christ child so that they may worship him (Matthew 2:1-2).
This very Jesus would go on to declare, “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) This is the Good News that we celebrate at Christmas. The Light of the World has come! Just as God had a plan for addressing the darkness over the deep, He had a plan to address the darkness of our own sin. “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) There is hope for all who walk in the dark and formless void of sin. It is through Jesus that we can be delivered from this domain of darkness and into His kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13).
With this light now in us, God declares us new creations, transforming us from the inside out. And as we walk as children of the Light (Ephesians 5:8), we also become lights in the darkness of this world (Matthew 5:14). Like lighthouses pointing lost ships to shore, we are now called to point others to the light, truth, and hope of the Gospel. We once knew what it was like to stumble around in the dark. But now we have seen a marvelous light, and others must see it too!
THE PEACE THAT SURPASSES
BY JORDAN MAYER
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Do you need some peace this Christmas season?
I find myself craving peace, perhaps more than usual. We are now two years into this global pandemic. Our country seems more divided than ever before. Right seems wrong and wrong seems right. Winter has arrived and with it comes colder weather, shorter days, and darker nights. For many people, the Christmas season is a mad dash to the finish line: decorating, buying, wrapping, traveling…surviving.
In more ways than one, our world is the very opposite of peace. It’s chaos and confusion. It’s pain and suffering. It’s darkness and despair. In a world such as ours, where is peace to be had and where is it to be found?
So many thousands of years ago, the prophet Isaiah foretold of the birth of a child. One with many names, but one in particular that sparks hope: Prince of Peace.
The world’s idea of peace is a calm and quiet home, work-life balance, good health, positive relationships, or enough money in the bank. And yet, five minutes in this world reveals just how fragile that kind of peace is. A loved one passes away, a routine visit to the doctor reveals a life-threatening illness, your kids won’t talk to you, or you lose your job. A moment’s peace is about all that can be had, but even that is fleeting.
Jesus offers a better way. A peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7). A peace that allows us to lie down and sleep (Psalm 4:8). A peace in the midst of tribulation (John 16:33). A peace at all times and in every way (2 Thessalonians 3:16). A perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).
Before we can experience this peace of God, we must first experience peace with God. Remember that the birth of Jesus was the birth of a Savior. The angel told Joseph, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). It is our sin that separates us from God, and yet it was God who came down to provide the Way for peace. Christ has done the work; we simply need to accept it by faith. Then we may join with Paul in declaring, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
Peace with God ushers in the peace of God. The kind of peace that is in Jesus, himself (Ephesians 2:14). One that is not rooted in circumstances, but firmly fixed in spite of them. It’s found in the assurance that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).
This Christmas season, don’t settle for the peace that the world offers. Find it in the Prince of Peace. Find it in Jesus.