Scripture Reading: Isaiah 9:2-5, Isaiah 60:1-5, Matthew 4:12-17, John 8:12, 2 Corinthians 8:9, Revelation 22:1-5
I once visited Mammoth Caves, a long series of underground caverns in Kentucky. The caverns would have been completely dark if it weren’t for dim lights that had been installed for tours like ours. We stopped at one particular spot where we could hear a rushing stream. Our guide told us that the fish living in that water had no eyes. That’s strange, I thought. And a little creepy. But then our guide explained: “Why grow eyes when you live only in darkness?”
They didn’t know any better. Their world was dark. There was no need to see.
I think the only thing darker than darkness, is not knowing you’re in darkness. Stumbling around this earth unaware of the light that could be warming you, that could be lighting your way.
Before Jesus, this was the state of humanity. We were “the people who walked in darkness…who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death” (Isaiah 9:2). Yet we didn’t know. Sin was our normal. The path toward death was the only road we had walked.
In darkness, we could not see our way. In darkness, things were unclear and unknown. In darkness, our sin was hidden. It was the ideal environment for fear, despair, and shame to thrive in.
But then came “the light of the world” (John 8:12). Jesus. He illuminated the path. He exposed our sin so that we could finally be healed. He made clear the world around us. He was hope in a world of growing fear and shame and despair. He gave us new eyes to see a new world, one that—unlike that of the poor fish in Mammoth Cave—was not dark, but full of light.
I remember when the grace of Christ first touched my life. The world looked different. Everything appeared more colorful and radiant, as if I had only been able to see one hue of God’s creation and could now see it in a bolder, deeper color. I had a Savior who had died for my sin. I had been made righteous by His blood. There was absolutely nothing I could do to earn that righteousness, and there was nothing I could do to lose it. As my eyes were opened to this light, I was filled with a hope and joy and peace I had never experienced.
But the light of Christ doesn’t stop with us. As Isaiah prophesied to the Israelites in captivity, “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you” (Isaiah 60:1). When we shine with the glory of the Lord, others see a light that points them toward Him—and one day, all will see this light.
That’s something I love about Advent. It not only reminds of Jesus’ birth, but it gives us an opportunity to look forward to when He will come again. When the glory that shined on Israel—the same glory that shines on us—will illuminate everything forever. A place where there will be no night, no need for a lamp or even the light of the sun, “for the Lord God gives them light” (Revelation 22:5). Amen.