The Light of the World

John 8:12: When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jesus came into a world filled with darkness. The people living in the land of Palestine were without hope and they must have thought that God had forgotten or abandoned them. About 700 years before this, the prophet Isaiah had prophesied a Messiah for God’s chosen people. Isaiah 9:2: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Matthew, the Gospel writer and disciple of Jesus, repeated these words from the Old Testament prophet in Matthew 4:16: “the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” The “light of the world” was coming into a world that would not know him or recognize him.

Darkness filled the land of Palestine at the time of Jesus’ birth and that same darkness is desperately trying to influence and gain complete control over our world today. The angel Gabriel spoke some very important words to the young girl Mary and those were words that the people of Palestine needed to hear as well as all of us living today: “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). God was about to turn the world upside down. He did it over 2,000 years ago and He can do it again today in 2015.

Today, we live in a world where many believers recognize the “light of the world” but unfortunately there are many who fail to see this light. The world that we live in demands inclusiveness and it constantly tells us to accept diversity and those with different beliefs. Christians are admonished to be careful about wishing anyone a Merry Christmas, lest we offend someone with a different belief system. Many good people believe there are numerous paths to God and they don’t want to offend anyone by declaring that Christ is the only way to eternal life. It’s time for followers of Christ to stand up for our beliefs and for what the Christmas season signifies. It is also vitally important that we do it in a way that leads others to Christ and glorifies God.

If you are a follower of Christ, you are commanded to walk in the “light” and to point others to the light of eternal life; Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Walk in the light of Christ this Christmas season and allow yourself to be used to help those living in darkness to see the true light of the world and the only way to eternal life.

 

 

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Luke’s Gospel is my favorite when I want to reread the story of the birth of Jesus. Luke begins his Gospel account with the birth of John the Baptist being foretold to Zechariah, a priest, and his wife Elizabeth, who was a descendant of Aaron. “Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly” (Luke 1:6). Elizabeth was barren and she and Zechariah were both well beyond their child bearing years. The angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah and tells him that Elizabeth will bear a son and the name given him will be John. Gabriel tells Zechariah that John will be “filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth” (Luke 1:15).

In Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sends the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, to a young girl named Mary. Gabriel tells Mary that she will give birth to son and she is to give him the name Jesus. Mary wonders how this will be “since I am a virgin” (Luke 1:34). Gabriel tells her that her cousin Elizabeth, who was barren, is in her sixth month. Gabriel then says to Mary, “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

As you read the story of Jesus’ birth this year, remember the words of the angel Gabriel: “For nothing is impossible with God.” Our God, who reigns from heaven, is still in complete control of this world that we live in. During this Christmas season, live with a hope and a joy, believing that God’s Son, Jesus the Christ, has already overcome sin, death, and the evil of this world. Live out this Christmas season with the joy and peace that can only come through knowing Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
The United Methodist Hymnal Number 196
Text: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788
Music: Rowland H. Pritchard; harm. from The English Hymnal

1. Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

2. Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.