Christmas is often a time of merriment, hope, and good cheer. Colored lights adorn the darkened streets of winter and decorations fill homes with the anticipation of celebration. For some people, though, their Christmas isn’t looking very merry or bright. Instead, their world is filled with darkness, despair, and dread for the future.
An illness may loom threateningly into the weeks and months ahead. Perhaps, a loved one passed away and their absence from annual family Christmas celebrations is too much to bear. Even the general state of the world can cause a person’s world to seem dark and without hope.
While the world is a dark place full of pain, there is Someone who can bring light and hope. Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, can illuminate the lives of the heavy-hearted and be a beacon of light in the troubled darkness.
He has come as the Savior of the world and will soon return to end all sorrow and pain. The same Savior who died for the sins of mankind and rose from the dead is the One who can help those who are hopeless and downcast.
God as Light
Scripture is replete with passages about God being light or bringing light in the darkness. This is not surprising given the fact that “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Darkness cannot overcome Him since He illuminates all things (Daniel 2:22; John 1:5). Even darkness is not dark to God, since He sees all things, and nothing can be hidden from Him (Psalm 139:12).
People often found hope in the fact that the Lord could bring light into darkness. David describes this when he said, “You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light” (Psalm 28:18).
Even when trouble and enemies surrounded him, David found comfort that God was with him as his “light and salvation” (Psalm 27:1). The Lord continuously protected David and often saved his life from death. Like the warm and bright flicker of a lighted candle in a dark room, God provides hope to His followers when life seems dark.
In the future, when God creates the New Heaven and New Earth, there will no longer be any need for the sun or moon.
Instead, the Lord will be the light. As the Apostle John revealed in his vision of the New Jerusalem, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Revelation 21:23).
In His wondrous splendor and glory, God will light up His creation. On that day, there will be no more darkness, for God will make all things new (Revelation 21:3-5).
The Significance of Jesus’ Declaration
During the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus declared that He is the Light of the World (John 8:12). For those who were well-acquainted with Scripture, Jesus’ declaration would have been a definite sign of His divinity since light is a symbol of God (1 John 1:5).
His statement was well-timed since large lamps were lit during the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2, 14). This Jewish festival required the Jews to travel to Jerusalem and set up tents to dwell in (Deuteronomy 16:16).
Like the Israelites who lived in tents after God brought them out of Egypt, the Jewish people dwelled in tents during the festival to remember the Lord’s deliverance (Numbers 1:52; Hosea 12:9).
Lasting seven days (Leviticus 23:24), the festival featured large lamps that were lighted around the temple. Light from the large lamps would symbolize God’s presence to the people, reminiscent of God’s glory, which entered the temple when it was dedicated by Solomon (1 Kings 8:10-11).
Also, the light from the lamps represented their future hope of the Messiah, who would dispel the darkness of sin and death (Isaiah 9:2). Therefore, it was no small thing for Jesus to stand up during this festival and declare Himself to be the promised Light of the world, signifying that He is God and the promised Messiah.
He had come to shine His light into this shadowy world of sin and corruption (Matthew 4:16; Luke 2:32). Jesus came to bring life and salvation into a world diseased with sin since the fall of man (John 1:4; 3:19; 8:12).
People do not have to continue living in the darkness of sin since they can receive new life when they put their trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection for salvation (1 Corinthians 15:2-4; Titus 3:5).
Christ specifically mentioned the offer of salvation when declaring He was the Light of the world, since He said, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Instead of being enslaved to the sin nature, Jesus sets those who trust in Him free so they can live a life of abundance in Him (John 10:10; Romans 8:2).
The Savior Who Helps the Hopeless
As the promised Messiah who would declare good news to the poor and set the captives free, Jesus regularly ministered to the hopeless and downcast (Isaiah 61:1). Throughout His ministry on earth, Jesus displayed intimate concern for the people around Him who were struggling, sick, and rejected in society.
Repeatedly, the Pharisees called Jesus “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 11:19). He could often be found spending time with the outcasts of society because “healthy people don’t need a doctor — sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Mark 2:17, NLT).
Jesus spent time healing the sick, raising the dead, and forgiving the sins of those who had suffered a long time under sin’s oppression (Luke 7:21-22; 13:16-17).
Furthermore, Christ can closely identify with those who are suffering and rejected because He was a Man acquainted with sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). Being God, He chose to take on human flesh to save mankind (Philippians 2:6-8).
He endured slander, humiliation, and separation from the Father when He was on the cross (Matthew 27:27-50). However, Jesus endured the sacrificial and atoning act of dying for sin because of His love for humankind (1 John 3:16).
Instead of leaving people to their deserved punishment, the Lord stepped in and rescued mankind from the darkness and brokenness of their sin.
When a person experiences pain and hardship, they can be reassured that their Lord and Savior understands their suffering (Hebrews 4:15). He is not a God who is far away and ignorant of human suffering, but who is always present and fully aware of human pain based on personal experience.
He continues to care for those who are experiencing illnesses, suffering, and the loss of loved ones. In fact, He will one day return to make all things new where there will no longer be death, illness, or suffering (Revelation 21:4).
Until then, people can find hope in the Light of the World who is “close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Even so, circumstances may be difficult and painful, God is always present and will never forsake those who are His own.
A Beacon of Hope
The circumstances of the world may seem dim and hopeless. Chronic illness or the death of a loved one may loom overhead, clouding the days with sadness. However, there is hope because Jesus came as the Savior and Light of the world.
He has provided the gift of salvation through His death and resurrection, which can be received by grace through faith to all who believe (Ephesians 2:8-9). As the God-Man, Jesus Christ is familiar with suffering and empathizes with those who are struggling. Individuals can find hope in Jesus because He can save anyone and will one day return to make all things right.
Because He is the Light of Life, people can rest assured that God cares for them, can save them, and will be present in all their days of hardship and pain. Christ is a true Beacon of hope when everything in life seems dark.
For further reading:
How Will Light Shine on All Your Ways?
What Is the Power of God’s Light Over Darkness?
What Does it Mean to Let Your Light Shine?
What Does ‘God Is Light’ Mean in 1 John 1:5?
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Andrey Zhuravlev
Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. Holding a Bachelor of Arts in Ministry and currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Ministry, she is passionate about the Bible and her faith in Jesus. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.