The Real Christmas Light is Shining
A Christmas commentary on Isaiah 9:2-7 on Christmas Eve.
It’s a tradition familiar to many families. For us, it was something we did almost every year. Every year on a night shortly before Christmas, our family went out for a drive. There was not really a destination in mind—we were going everywhere and nowhere all at once. But it was not a matter of where we were going, but of what we were going to see. It may have been cold. It may have been snowy. It may have been completely dark. It didn’t matter. We were on a mission. We were driving around to look at the Christmas lights.
Typically there were a few neighborhoods that became known as the hot spots (or maybe I should say the bright spots) for Christmas lights. Though just little residential neighborhoods, they quickly became packed with traffic as countless families wanted to see the spectacle of lights. One house had Santa and all the reindeer lit up on the roof. Another had a full manger scene on the front yard complete with live shepherds and animals. Each home attempted to outdo the next as every square inch of house and tree and bush and fence and vehicle was covered with lights. There was so much light that it was easy to see our way. The darkness wasn’t an issue. It was almost as bright as day.
Though not quite as popular here, may still get into the festivities in the same way. Be it on trees inside or trees outside, be it lining the house or just hanging around the windows, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the Christmas lights.
700 years before the first Christmas, Christmas light was also very important. The prophet Isaiah talked about seeing a great light amid much darkness. In Isaiah 9:2 he says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” It quickly becomes evident though that this is a different kind of light. Isaiah continues by talking about this light increasing people’s joy, giving peace and rest from troubles and war, and then having much authority and power. As the Israelites suffered a divided kingdom, and as mighty enemies like the Assyrians and then the Babylonians threatened, these words would have certainly caught their attention. But how would they know? How could they know when they would see this light? What would be a sign of this “great light?” God answers through the prophet Isaiah in verse six: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” A son would be born who has all power and his shoulders. A son would be born who would be the Prince of all peace. A son would be born who is not just another child, but who is also the Mighty God. And indeed, that Son was born and declared he was the fulfillment of these words when he said about himself, “I am the Light of the world.”
This world is filled with darkness. Satan lurks and looms behind every shadow and stalks us, his prey, like a great hunter of the night. Using secular government as a cohort, he tries to squeeze religion out of everything. He takes pleasure in laws and rules that promote sin and wicked immorality. Employing anti-Christian movements as another cohort, he brings persecution and hatred upon Christians—sometimes even death.
Beyond the threat of attack, this is a world that has become filled with trouble and sorrow and pain. All of us know that pain and that sorrow and that hurt all too well. That’s darkness. Further, this is a world that has also become filled with immorality and wickedness. All of us know that sin and that guilt all too well because of the wrongs we have done. That’s darkness. This world is filled with the darkness of evil, of hurt and pain, and of sin and guilt.
But, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” But it is not just any Christmas light, it is a Christ-light. Amid all this darkness, amid all the pain and sorrow that we feel, amid all our sin and guilt, “To us a child is born, to us a son is given,” and this child is the Light of the world. He came to crush darkness and death. He came to overthrow sin and Satan. By this child’s life and through his death in our place he became our Wonderful Counselor, he showed himself to be the Mighty God and Everlasting Father, and he certainly is now our Prince of Peace.
This is not just a tradition of Christmas like glowing reindeer on a rooftop. This is the whole point of Christmas. It’s the real joy and the true peace of Christmas. The child—the Son—long foretold by the prophet Isaiah has come. The Light of the world has come. And we who walk in the darkness of sin in this world have seen this Light. He shines in our hearts with his love and forgiveness, and he gives us the sure hope of eternal light in heaven. Friends, rejoice! He has come! The child is born! The real Christmas Light is Shining!