Have Seen a Great Light

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I don’t know what you favorite Christmas movie is. Perhaps its “It’s a wonderful life” or “White Christmas” or “A Christmas Story” or “Elf” perhaps “Die Hard”.
Have you ever thought about what it is about these movies that make them so iconic and special for this time of year?
In each story, the stage is set, the characters are established, but then some crisis arises that needs to be addressed. Though the journey isn’t easy, fun, or sometimes even safe, in the end, the girl is won, the day is saved, and the good guys win.
These movies inspire joy, hope, love during a time of year that these themes are given a little extra attention.
So we get sentimental about them. When those same Christmas songs play over the radio that played when you were a kid, it does something to our brains.
But why those themes? Why does it matter if there is Christmas cheer? Or Joy? or Love? or Hope? Or that the bad guys lose and the good guys win?
I think a reason why these movies and these theme hit home for us is because they speak to the longings that are in our hearts. We want Christmas to feel special. We want to have a nice time with family. We want to give and feel love and joy and peace, and all those things.
But life isn’t always that way. Bad guys seem to win. The stress of wanting the holiday magic seems to counter act it and the joy and peace we desperately want can be so fleeting.
But we long for the hero, the one who will save the day and make it all right in the end.
We long for those things because we are hard-wired to long for them.
We long for those things because this is the story that God has woven into the world, and we are living it out.
We are a people walking in darkness. There is chaos. There is uncertainty. We need someone to rescue us, to give us light.
Last week we studied the passage from Isaiah that spoke of a coming light that would bring Joy, freedom, peace and a new kingdom. This is what we long for.
But that light isn’t just an idea.
I’d like us to consider four truths concerning the light that came into the world that answers our most fundamental longings.
Our Chrismtas series is based on that Text in Isaiah “The People who walked in darkness have seen a great light”
Who or what is that light? And what has that light come to do?

The Light is a Person

Turn with me over to John chapter 1.
So often, when the Scriptures speak of the concept of light, it refers to revelation from God. A famous text that many have memorized is Psalm 119:105 “105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
God’s Word illuminates our way, but it is also how God reveals Himself. His Word is His self-revelation to us. He reveals who he is to us through His word.
Here we are gathering on Christmas morning, celebrating Jesus Christ coming into the world. Jesus Christ is the ultimate self-revelation of God, he is the Ultimate Word of God.
Colossians says he is the image of the invisible God.
It’s no surprise, therefore to read the words of John 1 which expounds for us more of who this Jesus is.
John 1:1–4 ESV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The Word. the self-revelation of God. later in Vs 14 we see that John 1:14 “14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
In many ways this is a mysterious thing. How can the divine take on humanity, how can the infinite take on the finite?
Truly a miraculous thing.
The word has come to bring life and light. Look down at verse nine for a moment
John 1:9 ESV
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
Jesus will say at another time that he is the light of the Word.
John 8:12 ESV
12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
The Light is a person. He is the self-revelation of God, and he shine light to all who will follow him that we may not walk in darkness.
We talked last week about what its like to live in the darkness.
When we forsake the word of God and choose to live our own way, we choose the way of darkness. And in that darkness there is pain, anguish, and gloom.
But Jesus came to bring life and light so that we do not have to walk in darkness. Christmas is a season of Joy because we celebrate the arrival of the light.
What’s more is that he cannot be defeated!

The Light Cannot be Defeated

John 1:5 ESV
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The Spiritual forces of darkness hate the light. Like cockroaches when the light comes on they scurry and hide.
Those who hate the light may have thought they scored a great victory in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, but the resurrection of Christ demonstrates that Christ is unconquerable.
How many of you have ever turned on a flashlight only to discover that the darkness fought back and pushed the light back into the flash light.
It’s a silly thought isn’t it? Darkness is not a genuine threat to the light. When the light shines, there can’t help but be a victory for the light. Darkness dissipates when the light shines.
And so we have statements about the inevitable and eternal reign of Christ that will surely come to pass.
1 John 2:8 ESV
8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
1 Corinthians 15:25–27 ESV
25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.
Darkness doesn’t win.
It may seem as though for a time that the darkness is winning. There are times of struggle, distress, suffering, hardship, and so forth here on this earth for a time. But make no mistake. Darkness will not win, for it is not in its nature to win. Light always gains victory wherever it shines.
Christmas is a season of Joy because we celebrate the arrival of the unconquerable King.
But question arises. Are you part of His Kingdom?
Jesus didn’t come to bring mere sentimentality and create a holiday that will be laden with nostalgia.
He came to defeat the forces of darkness and invite us to join his team. He came with a message.

The Light Comes with a Message

Last week we studied the passage in Isaiah that our Christmas series is based on. Matthew quotes that passage to demonstrate the Jesus was one who would fulfill the prophecies spoken of him.
Look at Matt 4:12-17
Matthew 4:12–17 ESV
12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Verse 17 summarized Jesus message to the people. Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!
Once again, Jesus didn’t come to be a cute nativity scene. There is a message here.
First, the message is to repent.
This implies that his audience is not in a good place spiritually. To repent means to turn away from something.
Our world tries to tell you that there is nothing wrong with you. You are perfect just the way you are. It’s one of nicest sounding lies that have ever been uttered.
The truth is that none of us are perfect as we are. We all have sin within our hearts. We don’t have to teach children to lie, steal, or act selfishly. They do it instinctively, because sin is bound up within our very hearts.
And this is what Jesus came to rectify. Repent! he said. you aren’t perfect. you are sinners, in need of a savior.
Jesus came offering the way of salvation to his own people, the Jews. They rejected him, hung him on a cross, and buried him in the ground.
As if their hearts weren’t dark enough, they added the sin of the murder of the only perfect human to ever walk this earth.
But Jesus didn’t stay dead. He rose again from the dead, demonstrating that darkness cannot win. The Light will prevail. He defeated sin and death and ascended into heaven where He currently sits at the right hand of God.
This is why Jesus came. He came with a message of good news! That fallen humanity can enter into the Kingdom of God through repentance and faith!
But that message. It requires a response.

The Light Requires a Response

Not everyone will get to enter the kingdom. Jesus said narrow is the gate that leads to life. How will we enter it?
One response that Jesus aleady articulated is that of repentance. The second is that of faith.
Look at John three. After what is likely the most well known verse in all the Bible, John 3:16, Jesus said these words
John 3:18–20 ESV
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
There are two responses in this verse. There is a response of belief. The one who recognizes their sinful condition and that only way of escape, the only way of salvation is fling him or herself onto the mercy of Jesus Christ does not face condemnation. There is freedom. There is life.
But the tragic flip-side. The one who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed.
The reality that we face is that we like our sin. We prefer darkness.
This is why we get so offended when people point out our flaws. When the light shines we react against it like. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie I Am Legend with Will Smith. The creates only come out at night and they feel pain when in the light.
Such is the case for all of humanity in our natural state.
But he beckons to us. Don’t remain in the darkness. Come to the light!
John 12:36 (ESV)
36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
Jesus offers us adoption into the very family of God! Jesus was born as a son to that he could make you and I sons and daughters of the Father! He will welcome you into the brotherhood, the sisterhood.
But it requires a response.
will you turn from the darkness to trust the light, or will you cower back in the darkness like a cockroach fleeing from the light?
What Christ offers is more than mere holiday sentimentality. He offers more than warm fuzzies. More than what the best hallmark movie can offer. He offers a spot on the winning team in the battle of the ages. He offers a place in the kingdom. He offers freedom from guilt and shame.
But you must come to the light.
I close with this.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American Poet who lived during the time of the Civil War. He wrote a poem that was later turned into a song, and speaks of the tension felt during the Christmas season and that joy that is supposed to be present, and yet there is darkness in the land.
I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play, and mild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men! And thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom Had rolled along The unbroken song Of peace on earth, good-will to men! Till ringing, singing on its way, The world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, A chant sublime Of peace on earth, good-will to men! Then from each black, accursed mouth The cannon thundered in the South, And with the sound The carols drowned Of peace on earth, good-will to men! It was as if an earthquake rent The hearth-stones of a continent, And made forlorn The households born Of peace on earth, good-will to men! And in despair I bowed my head; "There is no peace on earth," I said; "For hate is strong, And mocks the song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!" Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men."

The People Who Have Walked in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light

The Wrong Shall Fail. The Right Prevail. With Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.
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