I’m glad Christmas is around the corner, and we can celebrate! 2020 may have been a difficult year, but Christmas should always remind us of the most important Person in our lives: Jesus, the Immanuel—God with us. He will always be the essence of Christmas despite the calamities worldwide.
The original Christmas had a background that wasn’t all cotton candy happiness. Roughly 2,000 years ago, this was the context:
- Israel at the time of Jesus’ birth was considered a backwater province of the Roman Empire. Remember that there was a census that forced Joseph and Mary to return to Bethlehem? That was because Rome had ordered a census.
- King Herod was one who was capable of murder. Remember what he told the wise men searching for Jesus? He wanted them to return to him after meeting the baby Jesus. He had the intention of killing Jesus. Imagine having a king of that cruelty who eventually ordered the mass killing of innocent babies!
- Between Malachi (the last book of the Old Testament) and Matthew (the New Testament), scholars put roughly 400 years of prophetic silence. So among the people of Israel, there was a tremendous hunger for the Lord to speak.
Isaiah 9, written approximately 700 years before the birth of Christ, describes the context of the coming of the Messiah by using the words “gloom,” “darkness,” and “deep darkness.” Isaiah punctuates it, however, by pointing that the birth of Jesus was like the coming of a Great Light upon the scene:
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—The people walking in darkness have seen a great light on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
I love how Jesus enters the scene of mankind. It is in “gloom” and in “darkness” and in “deep darkness” that He enters. Isaiah 9:6-7a declares the Identity of this Light:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
In times of deep darkness, let us remember the Light of the World. Let us remember that we have a Wonderful Counselor who can heal our wounds and listen to each cry of our hearts; a Mighty God who can still work miracles in this day and age; an Everlasting Father who knows the beginning and the end of matters; a Prince of Peace who can say to the most violent of storms, “Peace, be still.” Yes, He is King Jesus, and even in matters of government, He has the last say!
During the darkness of our lives, let us remember Who Jesus is. For ever since the beginning— even with darkness, chaos, and formlessness sweeping through the universe— the Heavenly Father declared with passion: “Let there be light!”
Jesus, the Light of the World, illuminates hope in the darkness. One of our greatest privileges as the sons and daughters of the Kingdom is that just as Christ is the Light of the World, so too has He declared us to be light in this world.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matt. 5:14-16
As we celebrate Christmas, let’s remember Jesus, the Light of the world, and embrace our own identities as lights for Jesus!
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.