December 21, 2016… this year’s winter solstice. The longest night of the year. It is an astronomical phenomenon. But I marvel at the miracle it points to each and every year. Just as darkness gets its tightest grip on the world the Light of the world bursts through!
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
(John 8:12; NASB)
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we observe Christmas within days of marking the longest night of the year. We don’t have biblical record of the exact date of Jesus’ birth. But it appears to have first been celebrated on December 25 in the fourth century. The Dec. 25 date may have been strategically chosen for its proximity to the winter solstice, an event that gave cause for great festivals among ancient pagans who worshiped the sun for overcoming the darkness. How appropriate that Christ-followers would employ this same time to celebrate the Truth that, indeed, the SON did conquer darkness!
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of mankind.
The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has not mastered it.
(John 1:4-5; NET)
It’s an extraordinary image, isn’t it? Our Savior—the Light that could not be dimmed by darkness! I challenge any Christ-follower to ponder the metaphor and not see Christ and Christmas in a new way.
LIGHT – what is it? To a child who is afraid of the dark, it is comfort. To a night traveler, it illumines the path home. On a cold day, it provides warmth and for a weary soul, it awakens the senses. A bright light shines on danger and exposes it. A flashing light cautions us to move carefully. Light is a catalyst, kick-starting photosynthesis which ultimately produces food for Creation. And light is an energy source, powering modern-day technology. Though we rarely stop to recognize it, light is critical to our every-day lives. We would not survive without it... without Him.
No wonder when God spoke Creation into existence, He did so first with light.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was formless and void and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
God saw that the light was good; and God separated light from darkness.
(Genesis 1:1-4; NASB)
Sadly, the Bible tells us that it wasn’t long before spiritual darkness overcame the world. Despite his God-given ingenuity, man could not create a light strong enough to penetrate the inky black of his disobedient heart. He could not illuminate his own way back to God. He was lost…
Until the Lord Himself, in all of His mercy and glory, pierced through the darkness of longest night.
… magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him”… and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
(Matthew 2:1-2; 9-10; NASB)
Light overcame their darkness! Light conquers our longest night!
As the Lord illumines your path to the manger this Christmas, you may be distracted by the shadows of the world: depression… illness… financial distress… family dysfunction… senseless violence… political confusion… global chaos. But on this longest night, look up. See the stars and know that God is here.
The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light,
And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death,
Upon them a light dawned.
From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
(Matthew 4:16-17; NASB)
The Light of the world has come and promises to come again. Let us rejoice!
“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness will cover the earth
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the LORD will rise upon you
And His glory will appear on you.”
(Isaiah 60:1-2; NASB)
Merry Christmas to all… and to all a bright night!