Jesus, the Light of the World

During Christmas, we use lights to decorate our trees, windows, homes — but have we forgotten what those lights really mean?

For many American families, no sooner have the Thanksgiving dishes been put away than all the boxes of Christmas lights come out.

Were you among the eager souls who had their Christmas trees decorated or holiday lights displayed by December 1?

It’s a fascinating fact that Americans purchase more than 150 million light sets each year during the Christmas season — and it’s estimated that more than 80 million American homes will have some kind of holiday light display this year.

Without a doubt, decorating our favorite places with beautiful lights is a time-honored Christmas tradition that goes back generations.

But have we forgotten that all these Christmas lights are supposed to remind us of Jesus Christ, who is described in Scripture as “the light of the world” (John 8:12)?

When Jesus described Himself with this “light” metaphor, what important truth was He revealing to us?

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What kind of “light” did Jesus come to bring?

1.) Jesus came to bring us intellectual light. Left to ourselves, human beings can generate some really questionable ideas.

Need some examples? How about the popular belief that people matured out of a primordial mud-puddle over millions of years? Or what about the notion that at death, people dissipate into nothingness?

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Human beings have always had flawed ideas about life, death, and reality. But when Jesus arrived, He unleashed such intellectual light that people gasped with amazement (Luke 4:32).

This is because Jesus not only represents God — He is God (John 1:1). Everywhere Jesus went, He overturned human errors, misnomers, and misconceptions — and replaced them with the light of God’s divine truth.

So Christmas isn’t only about that famous light shining in Bethlehem’s sky. It’s also about the light Jesus shines into our understanding (John 12:46).

2.) Jesus came to bring us moral light. As Americans, we like to think of ourselves as a decent people. But did you know that roughly 17,000 murders happen in our nation each year — and every year more than two million Americans are victims of a burglary?

One shocking survey revealed that more than 6 percent of Americans knowingly cheat on their taxes. The point is, our lives are a lot darker than we’re willing to admit, on both the outside and the inside. This is yet another reason for the needed presence of Jesus.

When Jesus arrived, He shined the light on the truth: Salvation is not man reaching up to God — but God reaching down to rescue man.

Through both His perfect life and His public teaching, Jesus illuminated the stark contrast between our moral darkness and God’s pure righteousness. No matter how hard we try, we cannot escape the dark tendencies of our own hearts (John 3:19-20).

Thankfully, Jesus promises that everyone who follows Him “will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

3.) Jesus came to bring us spiritual light. Looking back through the centuries, many people believed that eternal salvation could be achieved by living a moral life, doing good works toward others, or obeying religious rules. But when Jesus arrived, He shined the light on the truth: Salvation is not man reaching up to God — but God reaching down to rescue man.

Jesus revealed that forgiveness of sins and eternal life are actually gifts of God’s amazing grace, and without them, mankind is doomed to spiritual darkness. This is why the Bible implores us to believe in Jesus Christ, “the light of the world” (John 9:5).

He is the only one who can shine God’s light into our hearts, transforming our souls from spiritual death to spiritual life (John 1:4).

Each Christmas season, when we hear Andy Williams singing about “the most wonderful time of the year,” most of us agree with him. We love this holiday season marked by joyful music, gift giving, and happy gatherings with family and friends.

Even though the nighttime arrives earlier in December, we don’t mind, because everywhere we look our eyes are filled with spectacular lights.

But this Christmas, let’s stop and remember: All those Christmas lights are not signaling a runway for Santa’s sleigh to touch down. Instead, they remind us that Jesus is “the light of the world.”

From Main Street to your street, every single light celebrates the arrival of “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Pastor Ryan Day is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where he has served for 19 years.

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