John 1:3-5 “All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.”
Are any of us self-made men and women? We may be proud of who we are, what we have accomplished, or what we can do. In many cases we may have filled up a genuinely impressive tote bag of diplomas, honors, and achievements. But does any of us believe that he or she created oneself? Could even an atheistic evolutionist believe that?
At Christmas time, the light shining from the manger reveals where we come from. “All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created.” As incredible as it may seem, this little baby, this helpless little infant who can do little more than eat, sleep, cry, and wiggle is the Mighty Maker of us all! The Creator has become a creature. Jesus is the one who has given life and existence to us all.
But there is a far more important life he gives to you and me. “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” The life that gives us light is not our creation. It’s not our physical life. It is the life with God that Jesus gives back to us. Jesus shines on us with spiritual life, eternal life. Jesus himself lived a life that revealed the spiritual life working in him. He lived a selfless life, a perfectly loving life, in keeping all that God demands of us. Then he absorbed all the darkness of human sin and death into himself. He took it with him to the cross where he died and disposed of the sin that divided us from God. He rose from the dead, he took his life back again, and in all of this he has restored our relationship with God and given us life that never ends.
This new life can be found only in the child in the manger. This news, this amazing, happy, wonderful news, shines like a light. It exposes sin. It chases the darkness of despair and unbelief out of our hearts and minds. It makes it possible for us to see and understand God’s grace. It fills our hearts with faith. It firmly plants the new life that Jesus has won for us inside of us, and it makes us spiritually alive again. This life that Jesus gives us is light. In fact, by leading us to faith, it has overcome us with its light.
That Light overcomes us, but the light cannot be overcome, because Jesus won’t be overcome. “That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.”
Have you ever felt threatened by dangerous surroundings? I remember an incident in high school when some friends and I were walking to get a pizza. Suddenly we were surrounded by a larger group of bigger guys. They stopped us and tried to bait us into saying something or doing something that might start a fight. We kept our cool, and eventually we were allowed to pass.
Does it sometimes feel that way to be a Christian today? We are surrounded by a larger world that opposes almost everything we hold dear. It’s not just that they think we are mistaken. They think we are the enemy. Truths such as “God is the Creator of the world,” “Jesus is the only way to heaven,” “The Bible is God’s Word, his unique revelation of himself,” “Salvation is one hundred percent God’s grace, zero percent our good works,” and a host of Christian moral beliefs aren’t just rejected. They are condemned as evil. We are accused of stirring up trouble and standing in the way of progress. As the darkness of this world presses in around us, we may wonder how much longer we will be allowed to pass.
Was the world which Jesus entered any different? His own people had no tolerance for the things he did and taught. “He breaks our laws and heals on the Sabbath.” “He is a friend of sinners.” “He claims to be the Christ, a king.” “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
The light shines in the darkness. But the darkness has not overcome it. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus rules from his Father’s right hand in heaven. Jesus will return to take us to heaven. Even if at times the Christian faith resembles a flashlight whose batteries are weakening, and the light seems to grow dimmer and dimmer, the gospel continues to go out into the world. The light of Jesus is shining in the hearts of more and more people. His kingdom keeps moving forward. Jesus’ won’t be overcome. Until the end of the world, his light will continue to drive back and overcome the darkness.