Note: We will be examining each of the characters from the Christmas story found in Matthew 1–3 and Luke 1–3 on the blog this month. I’d love for you to grab your Bible and read those passages before digging into these posts
Check out what the prophet Isaiah predicted about Jesus’ birth more than 600 years before that first Christmas.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness, on them a light has shined… For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and uphold it (Isaiah 9:2, 6–7).
Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus’ arrival. For generations, the people of God would wait with expectation for Isaiah’s words to come true. He describes lots of amazing things about the coming Christ, but the first thing he mentions is that the coming Savior would be a “great light.”
We are familiar with light. We have it at our fingertips with the flip of a switch. We spend very little (if any) time in total darkness. But the people in Isaiah’s day would have had a different relationship with light and darkness. There was no electricity. Surely there were moments when the lamps went out and the candles burned down to the bottom and true darkness settled in.
True darkness is oppressive. It is scary. It forces our deepest, darkest fears to come bubbling up to the surface. And yet Isaiah describes us as a “people who walked in darkness.”
He’s not talking about physical darkness. He’s talking about the darkness of our sin—the dark shadow of death that each of us were under because of that sin. The darkness that creeps into our hearts because of the hopelessness and fear and shame that this world serves up to us so often.
Isaiah wasn’t the only one to connect Christmas to light. In Zechariah’s prophesy about Jesus, he said that the Savior would come to “give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79). When the shepherds heard the news that Jesus had been born a great light shone around them (2:9). The wise men followed a star to where it shined like a white-hot spotlight over Jesus’ house (Matt. 2:1–2).
The light theme continued long after Jesus was born.
John 1:4 calls Him “the light of men.” In John 8:12, Jesus called Himself the “light of the world.” First John 1:5 tells is that in him is “no darkness at all.” Revelation 21:23 tells us that when we get to heaven lamps will be obsolete. Jesus will be the source of light!
Yes, Christmas is a time of peace and joy, light and life. But it is wise to remember what life can be like the rest of year. There are often moments of darkness. That’s why Jesus’ birth matters so much, because by coming to live among us, He rescued us from a lifetime of hopeless darkness and an eternity spent without Him.
Those twinkly lights on your Christmas tree? They can be a reminder of a deeper truth if you’ll let them.
You were once among the people walking in darkness. There may even be dark days ahead.
But a great light dawned when Jesus was born. No one can snuff it out. Nothing can dim its brightness. Jesus came to pull each of us from the fear and hopelessness that accompanies the dark. Are you living like a child of the light (Eph. 5:8)?
“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:46).