“In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
(John 1: 4-5, 9)
The corporate world has dubbed the day after Thanksgiving “Black Friday”, a reference to the beginning of a much hoped for lucrative Christmas sales season. While we understand that the reference is to economics, we can’t overlook the paradox of Christmas being associated with a pageantry of light.
Many people rise on Black Friday, well before the sun comes up to be first in line at the mall. You know, the same ones who could never get up for a sunrise service because it is too dangerous to go out in the early morning darkness. We will not mention their pre-dawn hours behavior at the mall, gleefully captured by the media lights.
For a few weeks we see neighborhoods, urban, suburban and rural, adorned with the artificial lights of Christmas. The power companies are always delighted!
Recent events have caused us to notice areas of darkness in our world. Record numbers and intensities of natural disasters have brought us face to face with the inequities of our social and economic systems. Katrina and Rita showed us that the gap between the haves and have-nots has grown wider. Public and private sector leaders speaking about New Orleans and other hurricane-ravaged places are not telling the victims “there is no room in the inn”; instead, they are telling the victims, “It is not feasible to rebuild the inn”. In a nation of plenty, there is extreme need. Millions do not have access to any adequate health benefits or affordable decent housing. The education system is failing poor children of all ethnic groups. Family violence is on the rise. It looks dark today.
We are involved in questionable wars, killing off our own young people without any clear or definitive reasons why. All the while some people, who are purportedly the messengers of God, are spewing a form of Godliness that has little or nothing to do with the principles taught by Jesus. Even though new churches large and small are forming in record numbers every year, it looks dark today.
So, while it is 2005 not a lot is different from the time Isaiah spoke about the Prophesied Light. “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death*, upon them hath the light shined.” 9:2 (deep darkness)* He spoke of people walking in the darkness of sin-filled lives. The deep darkness resisted any thought of enlightenment or illumination. This discussion of the cosmic battle between light and dark (Good and Evil) is echoed in the Gospel of John. John is the basis of our discussion today.
The Gospel of John begins with fourteen powerful verses known to us as the Prologue. He makes reference to the WORD or LOGOS. (Logos can be translated as “the message”) Using language reminiscent of the creation set forth in Genesis, he states that Jesus existed before the creation; assisted in the creation and more importantly “the message” became God in the Flesh. (The Word Incarnate) No mangers, no wise men, no shepherds with their sheep. No Innkeeper, No Big Star, No Magnificat (Mary’s song) or any of the grand scenes that we call the Nativity.
John boldly asserts that JESUS IS THE ETERNAL SON OF GOD! Take time to read the entire Gospel of John over a weekend and see how the revelator sets forth his case about Jesus through the use of eight miraculous “signs”. These signs are to make us believe who Jesus really is! The word “believe” is used close to one hundred times in this gospel. The “I AM” sayings of Jesus further reveal that He is the pre-incarnate (“pre-flesh”) Son of God. For example “I am the way and the truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 NIV
John the Baptist was the God sent forerunner whose purpose was to witness and testify concerning Jesus “the True Light”, who would shine on everyone coming into the world. John 1:9 Just as John the Baptist was a witness for the Light, we should see ourselves as witnesses for the True Light. Or as the Apostle Paul said “ambassadors” for Christ, the True Light.
The Creator came to His own, but the Creation did not even receive (recognize) him! Imagine, coming into a place He created, to a people He created and not even being received! He brought life and light to the place and its people, but those walking in darkness did not readily receive this light. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” John 1:10-11 WHY? People walking in the darkness of sin-filled lives are most comfortable in the dark. The light reveals our sin. (dark-side) That can be pretty scary. Who wants their sinful nature and dark-side exposed to the light? While John probably had the Jews in mind, these verses apply to us today if we still reject Jesus as being the True Light.
Just as it seems that the darkness is overwhelming, we read in verses 12-14, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
This tells us that some did receive him as the True Light. They believed and allowed the light of his radiant life to penetrate them and they became the special children of God. Even now to as many of us as receive him and believe on his name, the same shall likewise become the special children of God.
The light shines upon all people; however, it only shines into those who receive him and believe on his name. This means when we receive him we become privileged lights, whose primary responsibility is to shine forth for the True Light. We then become reflectors of the True Light.
Our role as privileged lights is described in both old and new testaments. “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee for a covenant of the people, for a light to the Gentiles; To open blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house”. Isaiah 42:6-7.
The Apostle Paul, in the Joy Epistle says, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; Philippians 2:14-16
John states, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; But if we walk in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” I John 1:5-7.
As we reflect on Jesus, the Light of the World, during the Christmas season and afterwards, let us remember that however dark it may seem, darkness cannot overtake the True Light. We have just experienced some very dark days, but even that darkness cannot overtake the Light of Jesus!
Jesus’ birth took place during a census year. This was a time when the political and governmental powers sought to make an official counting of all its subjects. People presented themselves to be counted in the number. Now political and governmental powers are actively creating ways to write people off or count them out. True Children of God must rise, shine and give God the Glory. No entity or human being has the right to count out any creation of God or write them off. The last verse of the Prologue says “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and mercy”. John 1:14 This means that as God has forgiven us we should forgive others. As God has loved us in spite of, we must love others. We must live by his perfect example. He didn’t count any of us out or write any of us off.
Jesus’ own words are instructive to us today. He proclaimed, “I AM the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12 He commanded us to be productive lights. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
How do we shine? By speaking out for what is right; by making our actions line up with our words; by ministering to the sick, lonely, orphans, widows, poor and anyone in spiritual or physical need; by witnessing to others about God’s love and mercy and by refusing to compromise concerning God’s truth.
Let us consider the whole matter of our brief discussion. He was the Prophesied Light, the Pre-Incarnate Light, the Personified Light, and the Proclaimed Light. He called us to be privileged lights with a responsibility to be productive lights.
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifest in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen of angels,
Preached unto the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.
I Timothy 3:16
Reverend Donata (Don) Edwards, known in the community as “Ms. Don”, is an ordained minister and licensed practicing attorney in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. She is the senior minister and director for Mt. Pisgah Outreach Ministry and Center for Social Justice. The focus of the ministry is “families in crisis”. (Domestic Violence, Child Abuse and Neglect, Eldercare and Mental Health Issues) Mailing address is PO BOX 1591 Temple Hills, Maryland 20757-1591.
Copyright 2005 Reverend Donata L. Edwards, Esquire All rights
Used by permission BlackandChristian.com