The Word Brings Light and Life

Based on: John 1:1-14
Did you ever wake up in during the night thinking about something you did that hurt someone or thinking about something you should have done, but didn’t? I have. The nagging reminder that I have sinned keeps me awake until I can push those thoughts far enough from consciousness to allow my mind to be at ease again.

At other times, something will trigger the memory of an event in my past, perhaps even something I did long ago for which I feel shame. With that memory comes this sharp pain of guilt – the realization that I deserve some punishment for that sin. Has that ever happened to you?

How do I get rid of this problem? I could try to ignore these feelings of shame and guilt – ignore them as much as possible. But they are still there. I could say that I am not so bad of a person. That’s true, isn’t it? I really do a lot of good things, don’t I? I’m certainly not perfect, but I think I’m doing pretty well, don’t you think?

Well, if those thoughts don’t work to appease my conscience, then maybe I can pretend that God doesn’t exist, and, if God doesn’t exist, I don’t have to worry about being punished, right?

Wrong, it is all darkness. It is all just groping around in the dark for some comfort that doesn’t exist. I can’t see the truth. All those thoughts come from the darkness of my heart. It is all that this world can come up with. On my own I can not know what God is like – what God thinks of me. My heart and mind are dark and so all I can do is make up my own ideas about God and they will always be wrong. There is no light, and so I can’t even see that with a single step into death I would fall into a chasm full of unspeakable terror.

If I stopped to think about it. If I paid attention to my conscience, I would realize that I am a sinner and I deserve God’s wrath. There really is no hope for me. Out of the darkness of the knife of “despair” comes to stab me through the heart – a knife with the words engraved on the blade, “God hates you!”

Left on my own all is darkness – a thick darkness, unyielding to any attempt to see the truth.

But that is not the end. John writes about a light that has pierced my darkness – a pure light, a light that reveals the truth, a light that is truth.

At first, I didn’t want this light. I didn’t want to see the truth, that I was a sinner, that I shouldn’t be doing what I want, but what God wants, that I couldn’t earn my own salvation, I had to let God do it for me. None of this made sense. I didn’t understand it. I couldn’t understand it. I wanted nothing to do with this light. I actually preferred the darkness.

To understand this light, let’s understand the darkness a little more clearly. To be in darkness is to not see God as he truly is. You live in darkness when you don’t look at your sin from God’s point of view. When you don’t think your sin is all that bad, then you don’t understand God’s holiness. You also live in darkness when you don’t see what God has done about your sin. You don’t understand his love.

But Jesus Christ is the light that reveals the truth. Jesus says, “Love God” and “Love your neighbor”. I haven’t done that and I see just how offensive my sin is to God when Jesus takes the punishment for my sin on the cross. But in the light that is Jesus Christ, I also see just how much God loves me when I see Jesus take my sin and guilt from me and place it on himself on the cross.

Jesus Christ is the light that has come into this dark world to reveal the truth about God. With that light comes life. At my baptism Christ lit up the darkness of my heart and I took my first spiritual breath. With every recounting of the Gospel that light comes to my senses and with every taste of bread and wine, body and blood at the Lord’s Supper, I take in the spiritual nourishment that keeps me alive.

Jesus Christ is light so that I see God clearly. He is life to me so that I live with God forever. But how does this happen? How does he reveal God to me? He is the Word.

He is more than just a simple “word” as we define it in the English language. The Greek word used by the Apostle John has much greater significance. That Greek word refers to more than a single word. It is a concept, a whole message. Christ is the message God wants to convey to you.

Jesus Christ is the means through which God tells us what he wants us to know. He communicates God’s will to us. Not only does he communicate God’s will, but he is God himself come to carry out God’s will. Isn’t that the definition of Christmas? Jesus Christ is God himself come into this world to personally deliver the message that God loves us and Jesus delivers that message by paying for our sins on the cross and earning eternal life for us. Christ is the message. He is the Word.

“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” That is Christmas in a nutshell. People talk about the reason for the season. They talk about being kind to other people, giving gifts, helping those who are less fortunate, and on and on. All of that is worthless if you don’t first see Christmas as something so much more profound, so much more miraculous – God taking on human flesh and blood. Consider the wonderful absurdity of it, God, through whom everything was created, became one of his own creation.

Why did he do it? If you can answer that, then you know the only reason Christmas is worth celebrating. He took on flesh and blood so that his flesh could be pierced by nails and spear. He took on flesh and blood so that his blood could flow and spill upon the ground. He took on human flesh and blood and a soul so all of him could suffer the pain of hell in my place. All of this he did so my pain would be taken away and my conscience quieted forever.

That is the light that now shines brightly in my once dark heart. That is the light that gives me life. Now when my conscience troubles me and the knife of despair tries to pierce my heart I shout back into the darkness that tries to overwhelm me, “My sin is covered by the blood of Christ.” And the darkness must draw back for Christ is my light and he has prevailed over darkness.

His light is now in me and I testify to others concerning that light. As I share the real meaning of Christmas with others, I am reflecting the light of Christ. There is a saying that goes, “All the darkness in the world can not extinguish the light of one candle.” That light of Christ shining in you infuriates Satan. With all the darkness that is in him, he cannot snuff it out.

We no longer are surrounded by darkness. Christ, our light, reveals the truth. Through the Word made flesh God reveals himself to us. We see him as he truly is, as one who loves us and made us his children in Christ.

Amen.

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