Do you like Christmas lights? I love them! As the last weeks of autumn bring short days and early nights, there’s something so cheerful and hopeful about these strings of white and sparkling colours. It starts with a few houses and spreads like good news through the community, as eaves and trees transform into glistening reminders in the darkness that Christmas will soon be here.
Did you know the motivation for the first electric Christmas lights was to convince people to try light bulbs? Thomas Edison perfected the incandescent bulb in 1879, but the public wasn’t interested. Oil lamps and candles worked fine, and people were intimidated by electricity. Then Edward Johnson, Edison’s colleague, came up with an idea. In 1882, Johnson decorated a tree with 80 lights that he had painted red, white, and blue. People loved it! Newspapers ran stories and the public travelled from all around to see Johnson’s brilliant Christmas display. Suddenly people wanted Edison’s bulbs. Today we can’t imagine living without lights and many still love how they look during this festive season.
But a much more significant event happened 2000 years ago, when a dark night was lit up for a group of shepherds. The Bible recounts how “the glory of the Lord shone around them” and a messenger from God announced, “I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:9-11). God’s own Son had come into the world!
The Baby they found in Bethlehem, wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger, came as light into our dark world. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined” (Isaiah 9:2), just as God had promised centuries before. Jesus Himself later declared, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).
But for the light to shine fully into our lives, our Saviour had to go into the darkness of suffering and death on a wooden cross outside Jerusalem. Our sins had separated us from God, the source of all light and goodness, but Jesus Christ willingly became our substitute and took the judgment our sins deserve. He “bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). “Christ died for our sins… He was buried, and… He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Now He lives, and He wants you to trust Him.
As you see the Christmas lights this season, ask yourself if you’ve appreciated the true light of the world. Are you still in darkness, or have you let “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4) shine into your life? Have you accepted the Saviour who died for your sins? Are you enjoying forgiveness and the new life He gives to all who trust Him?
- written by Shawn St. Clair