Lights can make the darkest night beautiful.
They can be one color or many, twinkle or stare down the dark. They wrap around trees and homes and bring cheer to our hearts even those grieving. Some Christmas light displays don’t represent a holy night, but there’s something special that shining lights do. It’s more than how they turn a home into a gingerbread house or palm trees into fountains of light.
Their power lies beyond the way candles in windows give houses that welcoming appeal or how banisters glisten with garland lit. Light does more than please my eyes and light up the dark. Light reaches down into my soul.
If a few bulbs on a simple strand of Christmas lights can do that, how much more can the One who is called the Light of the World affect us? And how much can we affect the world?
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:4,5).
The Light of Life
What does it mean for the “life” in Jesus to be the “light” of all mankind? What does it mean that the darkness could not overcome the “light?”
I’m so glad you asked.
The Greek word for “light” is Photizo. It means to enlighten, shine light upon, to illuminate, make one see or understand. It is contrasted to another Greek word that also means light. Phengos means luminaries like the moon or sun. So, the light of Jesus is a spiritual light that brings revelation, clarity, and understanding rather than simply reflect light as the moom.
Overcoming the Darkness
The NIV translates verse five that “the darkness has not overcome” the light. But I want to show you a secret. Peak under our English with me. The Greek word translated here has a few different meanings: to take–to apprehend, to find, comprehend, understand.
I think that if John wrote in our day using modern colloquialisms, he would’ve penned: The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness hasn’t gotten it. It can’t understand the light of understanding. The darkness doesn’t “get” God and His goodness, kindness, love, mercy, and grace in Jesus.
Do you have someone in your life who doesn’t “get” your faith?
I’m hoping we all have someone like that because if we don’t, we’re not going out into the dark enough. Christmas lights don’t shine well during the day. They shine in the darkness.
Advent and Hanukkah Lights
As I write this post, the Christian world lights the first candle on their Advent wreathe, and Jewish families will light the first candle on their Menorah celebrating the first night of Hanukkah. I love when our celebrations fall on the same dates on the calendar. The season of Advent means “preparing for the arrival of someone important.” That important person of course, is Jesus. We light candles for the next four Sundays as we prepare for His birth.
The tradition of Hanukkah is held to remember how God provided a miraculous supply of oil to keep the sacred Menorahs in the Temple burning for eight days after the Maccabees revolt. The revolt itself was a miracle. Outnumbered and under-supplied, the Jews regained possession of the Temple defeating the Syrian-Greeks. God’s Temple was restored and the lights burned once more.
Let’s let the light of Jesus shine within us, the new Temple of God. We may feel outnumbered and under-supplied, but we have the Lord, Holy Spirit, with us. He provides. In this season of preparation and light, let’s focus on how we can shine in the darkness. Last week we talked about how we can make Christmas more meaningful by taking time to be in the Word. Here’s another plan to help prepare our hearts for the Light of the World.
Bite of Bread Reading Plan “Shine”
Day 1: 2 Samuel 22: 29: You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.
Prompt: I remember how dark my spirit was without Jesus. I don’t mean it made me evil; this darkness emptied me. A black hole formed and grew until I came back to the truth of the Word of God and Jesus as the world’s Savior–my Savior. The night I said yes to faith again, the light chased away the darkness and my joy was restored. Write how Jesus has turned your darkness into light, or if you haven’t said yes to Jesus and the truth of the Bible, write a prayer asking Jesus to replace the darkness in you with Himself and His light.
Day 2: John 1: 5: In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Prompt: Light a candle during your quiet time today and, if possible, carry that candle down a dark hallway. What happens as you walk with the light? Write a prayer asking Jesus to light everywhere you go today as you walk with Him.
Shining =Light and Obedience
Day 3: 1 John 1: 5-7: This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
Prompt: Light represents goodness, purity, and life while darkness represents sin and disobedience. So, walking in the light means to walk in God’s mitzvahs, commands. Mitzvah means to do good, and it’s related to an Aramaic word, tzavta, which means companionship. Do you see how these words all point to a relationship with the Author of light and life? By spending time with the Lord and His Word today, you’ve walked in the light.
Day 4: Isaiah 60: 1-3: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Prompt: Commentator, David Guzik, writes: “Darkness is for lying down; light is for rising up. Darkness is for gloom and sleep; light is for shining. When the light has come, we must respond, and arise, shine!” (blueletterbible.org.) This prophecy is to Israel, but it also applies to all who are now children of God. What does Guzik say our role is? How do we do that?
Day 5: Matthew 5: 14-16: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Prompt: According to this Bite of Bread, how do we let our light shine and why do we do it? Write down how you will glorify God today?
Day 6: Ephesians 5: 8-10: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness,righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
Prompt: What makes the string of lights on your Christmas tree shine? Well, besides not being burnt out, they must be plugged in. How do we stay lit? How do we stay “plugged into” God? Write down what your day often looks like when you’re plugged in.
Day 7: Read through each bite and journal which speaks to you today.
I feel a prayer coming on . . .grab my hands.
“Dear Light of the World, open the hearts and minds of our loved ones and friends who don’t get it. Shine your light of understanding on them! And help us shine brightly in dark places. By the grace of God and the Presence of Holy Spirit, help those in darkness take a hold of you for themselves. May your light in us stir their hearts. I pray they’ll want the light. We love you. Amen.”
What’s your favorite part of our Christmas traditions?
Christmas Gift Ideas (To Help You Spend More Time With Jesus and Less Shopping!)
Thought you would enjoy this 2018 Holiday Catalog. Great gifts for family and friends. These are gifts that keep on giving enjoyment for years to come. Enjoy!