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Isaiah 9:1-5 records God’s promise of the coming of the light. The New Testament testifies that this ‘light’ is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Zechariah, at the birth of his son John [the Baptist], spoke of the One whom John would herald in these words:

‘… because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace’ [Luke 1:78,79].

John, the apostle, spoke of the coming of Jesus Christ in this way:

‘The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it’ [John 1:5].
‘The darkness is passing and the true light is already shining’ [1John 2:8].

Matthew identified Jesus as the ‘light’ – the one of whom Isaiah spoke:

‘Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, along the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles –
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’ [Matthew 4:15,16; Isaiah 9:1,2].

Jesus taught that he himself is ‘the Light’:

‘I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ [John 8:12].

‘I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness’ [John 12:46].

Jesus, the Light of the world, came into the world. The purpose and result of his coming is multi-dimensional:

He, the Light, rescues us from the darkness of deception and ignorance [2Corinthians 4:4-6].
He, the Light, rescues us from the darkness of death [Isaiah 9:2; Luke 1:79].
He, the Light, rescues us from the prince of darkness [Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:13].
He, the Light, rescues us from the darkness of our sin and condemnation [Acts 26:18].
He, the Light, rescues us from our personal darkness and endows us with his light [Ephesians 5:8; Matthew 5:14].

Jesus, the Light, calls us out of the darkness and into his wonderful light [1Peter 2:9]. In that light there is peace [Luke 1:79], and in that light there is joy [Isaiah 9:2,3].

But not everyone wants the Light:

‘The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him’ [John 1:9-11].

‘This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil’ [John 3:19].

These two verses are surely two of the saddest statements in the Bible: Jesus, the Light has come, with the set purpose to rescue us from the darkness in which we are trapped. Just as he gave physical sight to the blind, so he came to give spiritual sight to the spiritually blind. Jesus, the eternal Son, left his glory, left his Father, left the praise and worship of the angelic hosts, and took on our humanness, in order to save us from the darkness of our ignorance of God and from the darkness of our bondage to sin, death and Satan.

But, for the most part, we humans love our darkness.

We would rather the darkness than the Light. We would rather not have our sin exposed.
We would rather remain in bondage to the prince of darkness than live free with Jesus, the Light.
We would rather remain in the darkness of spiritual death, than be liberated to live in the Light.
We would rather cling to our own ‘god’, than know the true God by knowing Jesus, the Light.
We would rather remain God’s enemies than be transformed into his friends by the Light.

Jesus knowing how critical our response to him, the Light, is impressed his hearers with its urgency:

‘You are going to have the light just a little longer. … Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light’ [John 12:35,36].

When Jesus said this he was referring to his immanent return to his Father. But his meaning and his urgency still apply today in this interim of grace preceding his return: As long as the Gospel is preached, as long as the return of Christ is delayed, there is still opportunity to turn to the Light.

For this reason the Church engages in evangelism. For this reason, the Church engages in mission: to urge people to put their trust in Jesus Christ, the true Light, before the final judgement beyond which no repentance is available.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2014, 2023