The climax erupts at the beginning, as the apostle John writes, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). Right away, we can breathe a sigh of relief: hope is here. What is this light? Again, turning to John, we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1). The light is the Word and the Word is God. This means that God shined in the darkness, going back to verse 5.
When did God shine into the darkness? John tells us a little later in verse 14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” When God became flesh in the person of Jesus, that is when he shined in the darkness.
Christmas is the celebration of this darkness-shattering moment—the moment when Jesus shined in the darkness by entering into our plight. When Christmas happens, we have two choices, as I see it.
First, we can be like Nicodemus in John 3. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. Ultimately, even though Nicodemus was a very religious person, he remained in the dark, at night. Nicodemus did not understand Jesus and refused to let the light of Jesus penetrate his heart. Nicodemus remained unchanged as he quietly fled from the approaching light.
Second, we can be like the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. The Samaritan woman came to Jesus at noon, rather than at night. She was the exact opposite of Nicodemus on multiple levels: she was female, had a horrible reputation of sin, and was irreligious. Yet as she interlocks with Jesus in conversation, she does not flee from him. At one point, Jesus shines into her life most personally, revealing sinful stains of sexual immorality. But the woman resists the temptation to flee. She stands there, in broad daylight, allowing Jesus to illuminate her life. Then, instead of shrinking back into the night like Nicodemus, she runs ahead and tells others about Jesus. She illuminates the One who had illuminated her. Soon, many other Samaritans come to the light in order to see Jesus for themselves.
When the light shines into our lives, we can either be like Nicodemus or the Samaritan woman: either we can flee or believe. We can either let the light drive us away or heal us. I cannot help but note how gentle Jesus is with the woman; his light is like a surgeon’s scalpel, which cuts away the issues that drag us down.
As God’s love pours out into the world, we will be tempted to flee from its flood. But Christmas is no time to be hiding. Christmas is the moment unlike any other, for we get to be passive and receive the light. If God expected you to find him, unaided and alone, then he would not have turned himself into a walking, talking human. Since God is the kind of God who searches and finds and loves, he was born with everything he needs to accomplish this mission.
The purpose of his eyes was to look for you; the purpose of his arms was to embrace you; the purpose of his mouth was to speak to you; the purpose of his ears was to hear your cries; the purpose of his heart was to love you. Jesus was the gift of God, translated into human flesh that we might know and understand the very passion of the God who made us.
© 2010 by Samuel Kee