Christmas Lights

Christmas lights are everywhere! If you haven’t seen it already. I want to commend to you a visit to the West’s  Christmas light spectacular, over 110,000 lights. People love seeing the lights every Christmas, because Christmas is considered a time of joy and happiness, and lights.

Christmas, as you know, is not just about family, presents, tinsel, trees or the fat guy in the red suit, who has only been with us since being invented for a 1931 Coca Cola commercial. It’s about Jesus, God’s greatest gift, the One who died for our sins to win us back to God again.

We have 4 gospels, and each takes a different perspective to the introduction of Jesus. Matthew’ gospel, aimed primarily at Jewish believers, introduces Jesus as a descendent of line of King David. Luke the doctor describes the birth of baby Jesus. Mark, written primarily for gentiles, skips the birth altogether and dives straight into Jesus’ ministry, but John steps back and looks at the totality of Jesus…, starting this way…

 

John 1:1-5 (ESV Strong’s)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 

PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING

 

Christmas lights are beautiful, but it is How we see things is important… As Paul says, things are not always what they look like…

 

2 Corinthians 4:18 (ESV Strong’s)

as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

 

The Washington Post in 2007 ran a social experiment when a young white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a baseball cap, emerged from the busy Metro. From a small case, he removed a violin and placed the open case at his feet and began to play. For 45 minutes, the man played Mozart and Schubert as more than 1,000 people streamed by, most barely taking notice.

 

If they had paid attention, they might have recognized the young man for the world-renowned violinist Jason Bell, and they may have even noted that the violin he played was a rare Stradivarius worth, more than $3 million.

 

Just three days earlier, Bell sold out the Boston Symphony Hall, at $100 a seat, but in the subway, he drew just under $32 from the few who bothered to stop and listen.

 

Should it surprise us that many people didn’t recognise the Son of God when he came to earth in “blue jeans” and a “baseball cap”? As a baby, Jesus flew under the radar to complete His mission of saving the world, but John tips his hand in the opening chapter of his account…

 

Perspective is important, as are Christmas lights, so in his gospel John introduces Jesus using 2 powerful descriptions. Jesus is described as the Word and as light.

 

1.      JESUS IS THE WORD

 

John 1:1-3 (ESV Strong’s)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

 

For we humans, our words reveal out hearts and minds. As Jesus said,

 

Luke 6:45 (ESV Strong’s)

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

 

When Jesus was revealed as “The Word,” He was showing the heart and mind of God to us. And John states pretty categorically that Jesus wasn’t just a baby, He wasn’t simply a man, but He was and is and is to come God, King or Kings and mighty ruler, the creator and sustainer of all things!

 

This Jesus wasn’t just a baby, He wasn’t just a nice guy or a great teacher, John clearly states that He is God. The Word was with God and the Word was God. There is no word “a” in there, and JWs and other might have you believe. Jesus is not a God, He is THE God. The Greek word for was is eimi; the first person singular present indicative, which means to exist, to be, to always be.

 

MAY I HAVE A WORD?

 

When John describes Jesus as the Word, he is seeing in Jesus the perfect revelation, expression and representation of the Father’s nature and character…

 

Colossians 2:9 (ESV Strong’s)

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,

 

The Greek word for the word here is the word logos, which is a living word spoken by a real person which reveals the heart, precepts, ideas and concepts of that person. There’s a history to this Greek word, logos.

 

A Greek philosopher named Heraclitus first used the term Logos around 600 B.C. to designate the divine reason or plan which coordinates a changing universe. This word was well suited to John’s purpose in John 1. Jesus is God’s Word, and as words reveal people’s hearts, so Jesus reveals God’s heart.

 

And in case you didn’t fully get the concept, in case you’re confused as to who this Word might be, John removes all doubt about Jesus’ origin…

 

John 1:14 (ESV Strong’s)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

This baby in the manger is the living, breathing and full expression of the heart of the God who loves you, and gave Jesus His only Son to win your heart! He is the Christmas lights to the world.

 

2.      JESUS IS LIGHT LIKE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

 

But what about the second expression, Jesus is light. We have here in our community whole streets devoted to Christmas lights, and people love the wonder of those lights. I personally think the West’s is the bests, because you’ll find an absence of certain dodgy aspects of the world’s view of Christmas.

 

John 1:4-5 (ESV Strong’s)

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 

As an Optometrist I deal in light and darkness, in fact I live in a room without windows! Even at Christmas lights are important to me.

 

1.      LIGHT IS A MYSTERY

 

Light itself is interesting because science tells us that though it’s is energy, not matter, it can behave both like waves and particles. It seems to be like photons or parcels of energy and waveform at the same time, just as God can be God the Father, Jesus the Son and The Holy Spirit at the same time.

 

1 Timothy 3:16 (ESV Strong’s)

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

 

2.      DARKNESS IS THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT

 

John 1:4-5 (ESV Strong’s)

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 

In Jesus is life, Gk Zoe, which means not just the presence of life but the fullness of life. Most of us want life, not death, we’re afraid of death, so we fight for life. However, most people fight only for the existence of life, not the fullness of life.  But Jesus promised,

 

John 10:10 (ESV Strong’s)

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

 

John then says that this abundant life was the light of men, shining in darkness, that doesn’t overcome it.

 

The Greek word for light is phos, from which we get phosphorescence, and it means to emit light from within. So the sun is phos, but the moon is not because it only reflects the light. Recently Fiona and I went on a trip and under a dark ledge we could move our hand through water and see tiny creatures emit tiny lights when agitated. They called it phosphorescence.

 

Skotia is the Greek for darkness, and it simply means the absence of light, or by extension the absence of understanding. Darkness isn’t a thing in and of itself, it’s the absence of light. We’ve adopted this in our language, where if everybody knows something you don’t you are being “kept in the dark.”

 

As Edmund Burton  said,

All that us required for evil to triumph is for God men to do nothing… The absence of light.

 

3.      LIGHT AND DARKNESS REPRESENT GOOD AND EVIL

 

This is true in the Bible and in our culture. What colour is Darth Vader? Think of the darkness over the land of Mordor in Lord of the Rings. What colour hat does the good or bad guy wear in Westerns?

 

The Word phos or light is used 23 times in John’s gospel, more than in any other NT book. He states that Jesus’ life was light to everyone, and he contrasts this with darkness.

 

John 12:35-36 (ESV Strong’s)

So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

 

Think about darkness. When do prostitutes ply their trade, day or night? When do clubs do most of their business, day or night? When do most crimes happen? There’s something about darkness that brings out sin isn’t there?

 

A major blackout occurred in an American city some years ago. By the second night of blackness, the people started looting. Smashing shop windows, walking away with TV sets and toasters and stereo systems. Whatever they could lay their hands on.

 

In the dark, businesses and homes were vulnerable, some practically destroyed, not by hardened criminals, but by ordinary people, neighbours and friends, normally law abiding people. In the dark, sin and greed took over.

 

4.      MEN LOVE DARKNESS

 

John 3:19-21 (ESV Strong’s)

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

 

Men love darkness… Look at Halloween! Horror movies. Haunted houses. I remember as a teenager staying up late watching the Night Stalker with my cousin, going to bed and being terrified of some vampire or zombie that would attack me. Things were not helped when, it total darkness, my dad pranked us by throwing a tissue box and hitting my cousin on the head. Cue Screams!

 

People love horror, ghosts stories, demons, etc. And most young people set out a couple of nights a week to do things they know are not right. Under the cover of darkness we hide our evil, and most illicit sex, drug taking, pornography and drunkenness happen at night.

 

Mankind loves that stuff! The Bible talks about the pleasures of sin, and there is physical pleasure in a lot of that stuff. Like most sin, it feels good at the time, but the next day, in the light, you’re full of regret, sometimes for the rest of your life. How many of you have done things at night you’re not proud of the next day?

 

Interestingly, with 7 words for love available, the Greek word used in “men love darkness” is the word agape, the same word used for God’s unconditional love for you. It means to love unconditionally, dearly, to entertain and to be content with.

 

And that sums it up… People are content in their sin. They love it unconditionally, no matter the cost, despite the havoc sin and darkness visits upon their lives, and they’re comfortable and content with it.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:5 (ESV Strong’s)

For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.

 

What about you… Do you love, tolerate and even become content with your sin?  People say they don’t want to become a Christian because they don’t want to give up their lifestyle. If you think sin is fun, try holiness. There’s no regret, no guilt and God builds an incredible life of light if you would give up darkness. In the end you’ll see those deeds are destructive and while they might feel go d St the time, they will kill you. I don’t give up my garbage, I throw it away!

 

5.      IGNORANCE IS BLISS, BUT IT’S NOT BLESS!

 

There is an old story about a desert nomad who woke up in the middle of the night feeling very hungry. He lit a candle and began eating dates from a bowl beside his bed. He took a bite from one and saw a worm in it; so he threw it out of the tent. He bit into the second date, found another worm, and threw it away also. Reasoning that he wouldn’t have any dates left to eat if he continued, he blew out the candle and quickly ate the rest of the dates.

 

The fact is some people prefer the darkness, because in the light they see too much, and they don’t want to confront it. They continue in their old ways, because they don’t like having a light shine on them that will show that their relationship with God is in a terrible state and they are in serious trouble.

 

John 3:19-21 (ESV Strong’s)

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

 

All across our nation this Christmas people are celebrating with Christmas lights while they live in darkness. They put lights on their tree, but they choose to ignore the light of the world. The wise men saw a light in the sky that first Christmas and followed it, but our nation chooses darkness again and again because they see no light, because we the church don’t shine bright enough!

 

6.      JESUS IS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

 

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness”(John 8:12).

 

Jesus is the Light. This light exposes those dark private corners of our lives that we prefer to keep hidden. Everything is not as neat and tidy as we thought.

 

There is a mess that needs to be cleaned up, and even though we have tried to hide the mess in the darkest and most private corner of our lives, the light of Jesus has shown us that there is dirt piled up there that needs cleaning out.

 

  • Our temptations and secret sins,
  • those faults that we would prefer not to admit to,
  • the poor way we have treated the people we love,
  • the selfish attitude that we have nurtured,
  • the times we have preferred to look the other way than offer a helping hand.

 

These are darkness, and try as we might, we cannot discretely hide them away so God doesn’t find them. Yes, light exposes darkness. Yes light sometimes startles us in its glare, and makes us uncomfortable.

 

But as Christmas lights twinkle and shine, as they bring joy and happiness, so the Lord of light brings joy and happiness in the end when He shines into our lives. Jesus said,

 

The Light, Jesus, has come into the world:

  • not to bring condemnation, but to bring salvation,
  • not to rub our noses in the dirt of those dark corners, but to sweep them out, to bring healing and reconciliation.

Jesus brings strength and hope and joy and freedom from sin and it’s consequences this Christmas. He is the light of the world.

 

He didn’t come to condemn the world, but to save it.

 

7.      IT’S TIME TO SHINE YOUR LIGHT

 

John 1:5 (ESV Strong’s)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 

When the light shines the darkness is dispelled. It can’t win. Sometimes it looks like darkness is winning in our nation, but it’s not. Light always beats darkness.

 

John 12:46 (ESV Strong’s)

I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

 

I believe that 2020 is the year of vision, and for your vision to work properly, you need light. In a cave, you can experience intense, unbelievable darkness, not because your eyes don’t work,  it because there is no light … zero light!

 

They can promote darkness, legislate it, talk about it in the media, have Mardi gras about it, but as long as we decide to shine, they cannot ultimately win. The great darkness of a cave is instantly defeated by the tiniest candle!

 

And Christmas is a great time to shine.

 

1 John 1:5-7 (ESV Strong’s)

God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 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 cleanses us from all sin.

 

So how you can shine?

 

1.      Decide to Devote your heart to the Lord.

 

Honour Him at Christmas as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. How? Meet with Him daily, read His Word, and above all, obey His Word.

 

I challenge you to Start the New Year committed to reading His Word. When we do what He commands we honour Him, when we disobey we dishonour Him. I hear some believers say, I know it’s wrong but I want to do it anyway, and this does not honour God.

2.      Decide to Shine Your Christmas Lights Today, Don’t Hide

 

In the current moral climate, it’s us do easy to hide, but Jesus says,

Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV Strong’s)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 

Today we see so many Christians even leaders bending to what society tells them is the new normal, then twisting Scripture to justify it.  What we need are Christians with backbone instead of wishbone, and at Christmas you have a perfect opportunity to shine because people are more open to the gospel.

 

But note it says they see your good works, not what you say. We need to be examples of godliness and love to a hurting nation. Most Aussies won’t listen to a religious zealot, but they will listen to someone who loves and shows them honour.

 

So this Christmas, before your friends and family, stop and think about how they are seeing you, and whether you, your actions and your words are shining for Jesus.

 

I challenge you to tell someone about Jesus this Christmas.

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