One can never have too many lights when decorating at Christmas time. This great principle has been a guiding reality around our home for years. We love the white lights, the LED lights, and the colored lights; ones that blink and ones that stay steady. They not only make for a compelling display that is pleasing to the eye, but they also chase away the darkness. Now there is some disagreement where the idea of lights at Christmas came from. Some point to the candles of Hanukkah, while others trace it back to Christmas celebrations in Europe and other ideas are also presented. It makes no real difference since beauty is present and darkness is gone.
Brilliant light was part of the first coming of Jesus Christ into this world, and it will be on display at His second coming. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Luke 2:9 informs us that an angel appeared to some shepherds out in the fields and that “the glory of the Lord shone around them.” The darkness of that night was brilliantly removed by the illuminating glory of God. About a year later, the “star” (which I believe is best understood as the Shekinah---the glory of God) appeared to wisemen who were directed to go and find the new King. This brilliant light was a sign to them, as it was to ancient Israel as God led them through the wilderness (Exo. 40:34-38).
And so it will be at His return. In Matthew 24:29-30, Jesus declared that when He returns it will be when the moon’s light is gone, and the sun has become darkened. Into that unnerving gloom on earth at the end of the Tribulation, the glory of Christ will shine. At that moment, there will appear the “sign of the son of Man”, which once again is probably the Shekinah, glory of God. Jesus will come in “glory” and will sit on His throne, which is a “glorious throne” (Matt. 25:31). In His earthly ministry, Jesus allowed three of His disciples to have a preview of this marvelous light of His glory on the Mt. of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:2-5). They saw what He will appear like in His coming earthly kingdom.
The idea of light being connected with Christ’s appearances should not come as a surprise to us. The Apostle John began his gospel with the declaration that Jesus was the “light” that entered this spiritually dark world (John 1:4-9). Jesus Himself would later state that He was the “light of the world” (John 8:12). This statement was made after Jesus had forgiven a woman who was in a moral/spiritual darkness. That woman (to use the words of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 1:13) had been delivered out of the domain of darkness and entered a glorious relationship with Jesus Christ.
According to 1 John 1:5, the basic nature of God is that He is “light.” There is absolutely no darkness of any kind in Him. John’s important point is that if a believer wants to live in fellowship with the Light, that believer cannot allow even a smidgen of darkness in his own life. Whatever we might claim, darkness in our lives rules out any real fellowship with Christ. Generally, the church today is increasing in allowing dark doctrines and darkness in living to become normal. As a result, too many Christians believe that God will accept most any behavior in their lives, since He is a God of love. He is that to be sure, but John dismisses our claims to walk with Him if we tolerate any kind of darkness in our lives (In 1 John 2, he says that we are lying when we say that). In reading 1 John 1:5, 7 very recently, it was a powerful reminder to me that sin must be immediately confessed and zero tolerance given for any shade of dark behavior whether, as believers, it be in our actions, our thoughts or our attitudes. John states that a believer who has a little bit of darkness in his/her life simply cannot have authentic fellowship with God who is pure light (1 John 2:8-11). However, since we do sin, provision has been made for us by Christ’s work on the Cross. When we confess our sins candidly, taking God’s view of those sins, we are then fully and completely washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world. Walking in the Light depends upon our obedience to Him. Perhaps as we put up our Christmas lights this year, we will let them remind us of Jesus, the light of the world, with whom we can have daily fellowship if we will walk in the light (1 John 1:7).
When the Lord Jesus Christ returns to earth as the King over all (Psalm 2), it will be in power and GLORY (Matt. 25:31). The Light, the glory, the brilliance, will be overpowering. This is what Peter, James and John experienced on the Mt. of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:2-5). To his dying day, Peter never forgot what He saw that day on the mountain, and he tells us about it in 2 Peter 1:16-19. Note Peter’s choice of words as he described Jesus as He will appear during that 1,000-year reign on this earth (“glory”, “Majestic glory”, “a lamp shining in a dark place”, “day dawns”, “morning star”). There are so many videos out these days which attempt to tell us about Jesus’ earthly life and ministry. Some are helpful, but to a certain extent they all have conditioned us to think of Jesus as the carpenter/rabbi from Nazareth, and do not help us really see Him as the glorious King. During His earthly ministry, as Paul teaches us in Philippians 2:7, Jesus “emptied Himself” of all displays of deity. That will change when He comes back in full glory to rule. That is our blessed expectation as given in Titus 2:13: the “appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” His will truly be a kingdom of light.
Whether or not Jesus was born on December 25th, it is a good thing to celebrate His entrance into this world; that moment when God became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). And maybe, just maybe, as we hang up our Christmas lights, we will remind ourselves of the nature of our Savior; that He is light; and that our Christmas lights might daily ask us the question: “are you walking in the Light?”
May your Christmas be filled with light, both physical and spiritual.