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!