There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone 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. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
We start to see them every year about this time. Through front windows and along rooflines, around trees and in once dark corners of our homes, we see the little twinkling lights of Christmas. Even people who don’t understand what those lights represent enjoy their soft glow and warm sparkle. Christmas lights, from old wax candles to modern LED bulbs, help tell the story of Jesus’ birth, just as John the Baptist came as a witness to the light of Christ. Don’t dismiss the power of this symbol. Jesus is the true light that gives light to everyone, and all the shining decorations of the Christmas season point people toward that True Light, even those who don’t yet believe in the Savior or his birth.
These verses don’t let us forget about those who are still lost in sin. Our Christmas traditions may revolve around our love for Jesus and our joy at his birth, but Jesus came, like light shining into darkness, to seek and save the lost. He entered the world He created, the world He owns, for the sake of sinners, for people who have rejected God’s goodness and have never thought to ask for a Savior. Jesus came for people like us who, without the faithful witness of a parent or friend or pastor or neighbor, would still be lost in sin. There was a time when we didn’t recognize or receive him as our Savior. There was a time when we didn’t understand or appreciate the True Light. Now, we rejoice because we know the good news, and so, like John the Baptist, we testify concerning the light to those in need.
There’s another great and wonderful mystery about the light of Christ. Like the Christmas lights that shine from houses and stores all through our community, the light Jesus brought into this dark world “gives light to everyone.” Some don’t yet believe. Some struggle with sin and doubt. Some have heard and rejected the truth. Some believe and rejoice. But the light shines all around to everyone, just as God sends rain on the just and the unjust, and causes the sun to shine down on all people, giving us warmth and light. In theological terminology, this goodness shared by all humanity is known as common grace. We see it reflected in the Christmas lights that give everyone a little bit of brightness and joy. How much more, then, do we see God’s goodness in Jesus who came to offer everyone the hope of rebirth! Let’s join Jesus in praying that more people will accept his offer during this hard but joyful season.
Father in Heaven, thank You for sending Jesus into the world and for bringing Your light into my heart. Help me to share this good news with others as I rejoice in Jesus’ birth. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian