First Mennonite Church
December 6, 2020
Come, See the Light
Text: Isaiah 9:2-7
As we enter into the Christmas season, I would like for us to reflect on the far-reaching effects of God’s work in the world through the coming of his Son, Jesus Christ. We are very mindful, however, that God’s work in the world, now and to a certain degree, rests in our hands.
In this new series for this month, I want to focus on the various forms God’s light has irrupted, displacing the darkness hanging over a fearful and hopeless people, according to Isaiah chapter nine. This passage portrays God’s light breaking through a world filled with despair, uncertainty, and hopelessness.
Two contrasting images in this passage are darkness and light. The first image is that of a world wandering in darkness, sinking in deep darkness. Darkness, even in its literal sense, is a frightening thing, only ask a toddler. But of course, Isaiah was not speaking of a pre-electric world, only. Darkness is a metaphor for more that the absence of a burning torch or the flickering light of a candle. We can relate to the various ways this metaphor is true. If darkness can be understood in the sense that people cannot see each other eye to eye or to see each other for who they truly are, then we can say we live in a world sitting in darkness. If darkness is the failure to see reality as it is or rather have certain truths never to see the light of day, then we live in world that prefers the darkness. If darkness is the inability to know the future or the feeling of trepidation and uncertainty for what lays ahead, then we are walking in darkness.
Our world is full of darkness. The evening news is filled with it. The flashy ads telling us every day that we need this or are worthy of that are telltale signs of the inner void and darkness plaguing the human heart. The very reason we are moved to pray is because we want God’s light to shine on some form of darkness we cannot see through. And, the reason many do not pray is because darkness still reigns in their heart.
But Isaiah’s prophecy did not stop with the darkness. No, Isaiah had great news to give. The people sitting, wandering, and sinking in deep darkness have been given the joy, not only of seeing a great light, but of having a dazzling light to shine on them. Light is the second image in the passage. This light of hope, joy, and liberation came in the form of a child. It was no ordinary child, however. Authority rested on his shoulder. That is, the child was given the task of exercising authority, dominion and power to give and preserve life. Therefore, the fields would yield abundantly, peace would replace war, and justice would reign over the land. The people would rejoice and live under God’s shalom. God’s dazzling light that shattered the deep darkness was revealed in the names given to the child: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
Therefore, the people wandering in darkness would no longer live in confusion. They would no longer walk in darkness or talk the wisdom of darkness but would live in the light of Yahweh and speak the wisdom of their God. The oppressed would experience the salvation of a Mighty God. Judah was promised relief from the yolk of the Assyrian Empire. The Judean people, who were living in fear and who felt abandoned like orphans, would be given a child whose name is Everlasting Father. They would never again feel abandoned nor helpless. And those who were terrified by mighty and merciless Assyrian army were promised a life under the rule of the Prince of Peace.
How does this message translate to us at this time? First, we understand this passage was a prophecy of the coming of Jesus into the world.
In John one, verses six to nine reads:
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
Yes, Jesus is the true light that came into our world. He not only gives our life light, but he also makes us shinning lights to the world. He said, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). And later in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus gave a warning when he said,“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light;but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23)
Perspective illuminates life or darkens the horizon. So if our perspective is clear, our whole life will be full of light; but if our perspective is foggy, our whole lives will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in us is darkness, how greater the darkness around us would be?
Where do you find yourself today, or have found yourself this year? In the darkness? Washed over in the pure and glorious light of Jesus? In a mix of darkness and light?
Last Thursday, I attended a Zoom meeting with pastors from California and Arizona. The general topic was: how have this year’s social, political effervescence and the pandemic affected our ministries and congregational life. Every pastor expressed gratitude for God’s abundant grace in their congregation, their spiritual resilience and flexibility to adapt to new ways of being church. But, pastors also expressed relief that November third is behind and optimism grows regarding the pandemic. Some congregations lost some of its members to Covid-19. Two church leaders lost family members to it also.
Let me tell you something. Around the beginning of the summer there were nights I could not sleep well. There was so much darkness engulfing my mind and spirit. I was worried about the impact of Covid-19, politics and my ministry, plus that of my family’s concerns. My sleeping situation came to point where I had to purchase sleeping pills. It worked. I slept well the few nights I took them. But then I realized that the worries I had were beyond my control and no matter how much I worried, I would not be able to fix these problems. So, one morning during my prayer time in the church office, I laid everything before God. I confessed to the Lord my misplaced trust about how to solve the problems I had. I asked the Holy Spirit to give me his peace and the faith to trust in God everything that worried me. Let me tell you that the bottle of pills is missing just a few pills. I did not have to take any more sleeping pills.
The power of darkness is real. In the least severe cases, it makes people go sleepless, in more serious cases, it makes them fight wars. But the marvelous light of God, which erupted into the world through Jesus is not only real but John says, “The darkness did not, (cannot and will not) overcome it” (John 1:5.)
The message of God’s light coming into the world should not only change our mood to fit the Christmas spirit, but should transform our everyday lives throughout the year. The light of God changed the world. It is true that a world filled with peace, justice, and goodwill among all peoples, as envisioned by Isaiah, may never be realized in the world we know, but for you and me, upon whom the light of God has dawned, that world has certainly come. So, it is our responsibility, not only to live in the light of God, but to be reflections of that light. It is our obligation, not only to bask in that light, but also to invite others to come and see the true light, Jesus.
Countless number of men and women have found light in Jesus. Many have found hope, healing, restored relationships, and the joy of their sins forgiven when they came to Jesus. I know that from the experience of my parents, uncles, aunts, and my grandmother. Their lives and the lives of their children were completely transformed. The light of Jesus is real; it changes real lives.
My dear sisters and brothers, the True Light has come to the world. It has shined upon us brighter than the light of a thousand suns. To us a Child has been given and He has even been born in our hearts and his name is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
Let us walk in the glorious light of Christ. Let us take advantage, this Christmas season, to tell others about this marvelous light. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). Amen!