“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.” –John 1:4-5
John 1 is my favorite Christmas passage. The wonder of God becoming flesh is so evident in these verses. And it never gets old to me. John 1 seems especially fitting in light of the recent events in Connecticut. At first glance, darkness seems to be winning. But if John is right, and I believe he is, the perceived triumph of darkness is only an illusion.
In darkness, loss, and evil the light of Christ in the lives of his people can never be put out. Christ only shines brighter when evil gets darker. Think of how much darkness surrounded the Christmas story. The murderous rage of Herod threatened to kill baby Jesus before he even made it out of diapers. His mother and father couldn’t even find a decent place to bring him into this world. He faced an obscure and scandalous birth and yet, his light still shone brightly. And the darkness of the cross was always looming behind the infant cries, shepherds’ wonder, and wise men’s gifts. But the message of John is that this Light, made flesh in a helpless baby, would overcome all of the darkness.
Darkness is no match for the Light of the World.
The good news for us this Christmas, and every day, is that the darkness will not win in our life either. The greatest display of his victory over darkness is seen at the cross. When darkness covered the entire land at the crucifixion, greater things were happening than could be seen in that moment. It seemed like darkness was winning, but Christ, the baby born in Bethlehem, the God-man was single-handedly conquering sin and death. In that moment every darkness we will ever face, whether the darkness of our sin or the darkness of our suffering, was overcome by this Christ. This is what was happening when the Light descended to earth as a little baby.
Isaiah prophesied that the people who walked in darkness had seen a great light (Isaiah 9:2). He goes on to tell us who this light is:
“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 it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:6-7)
This is who we celebrate this Christmas. And this is who we hope in when darkness seems to hide his work. We, his people, once walked in darkness and have now seen a great light.
Whatever darkness you might be facing this Christmas, whether it’s your own sin or unexplained suffering, John 1 is true for you. The God who made the universe came to earth to defeat the darkness that threatens to undo us. And the good news is this—he has already won. Christmas is the beginning of the victory march. And Easter is not far around the corner.