In the Christmas story, the mention of light is everywhere. John’s version in John chapter one describes Jesus’ coming as the “light that gives life” (John 1:4). Imagine you are a plant or a tree. You reach out to the sky and spread your limbs to receive the life-giving light from the sun. You do not want to possess it because no one can control it. You do not want to turn away from it, because doing so would be inviting death. All you need to do is to submit to the light, spread your leaves, so to speak, in the direction of the sunlight and let its life-giving elements flow through your whole body. In the same manner, we are to submit to Jesus, the Light of the World, and soak in His presence. We want the Light to the Nations to flow through our entire being. (See John 8:12, and Isaiah 49:6) In this Christmastime, let us continue to submit to Jesus, and allow His light to flow through us.
At this time, I want to revisit two popular Christmas stories and share with you the theme of submitting to Jesus. We want to center our talk in the ways that the light was presented in the stories. We also want to see how the people responded in submission.
In the first Christmas, we read in Luke chapter two the story of the encounter of the shepherds with the angels. These heavenly host came in the glory of the Lord. Lots of light. Multiply this shining glory with the multitude of angels, I would think it was a dazzling sight. No wonder the shepherds were startled and responded with fear. Their initial response was not submission but one of confusion and distress. To the shepherds credit, we probably would do the same. Imagine if the sky opened up and a burst of intense light shines over your neighborhood, you and I would probably be the first ones to scamper away. If it were not for the angles’ explanation, the story of hope and birth of a Savior, the shepherds would most likely stay hidden, fearful, and confused. I am glad the angels did not stopped with this cosmic and overwhelming appearance. They continued and guided the shepherds to go and see the Infant-Savior lying in a manger. The shepherds saw and visited with the baby. They celebrated in the beauty and wonder of God visiting humankind. They all went home glorifying and praising God. (See Luke 2:8-20). They responded in submission to the Light of the World.
In another Christmas event (about two years later), we read in Matthew chapter two the story of the Magis, the scholars from the East. They came to see the Child-King because of the beckoning of a star. The Magis followed the star in response to a prophecy from Scriptures. Anyone who has experienced going out at night and watching blinking stars from a distance would agree that it is a gentle and soothing experience. It is in contrast to the overwhelming encounter of the shepherds with the glorious light of the angels. And yet, they had the same responses of submission. The Magis experienced joy when they saw Jesus. Light shone and it came as a refreshing fulfillment of God’s promise from the prophetic writings. The Magi saw the baby and they worshipped him. They went home and continued in a life of obedience. (See Matthew 2:1-12). They responded in submission to the Light of the World.
Now, these stories could have gone sideways. The Magis could have ignored the cosmic beckons, or the shepherds could have languished in their fear. But no, they both continued submitting their lives to the Savior. What cosmic events are happening in your life? Maybe, they are simple everyday events but you feel they are equally earth-shaking. Do these events shape your life? Or, are you continuing in your life of submission to our Lord Jesus? Come to the Light of the World and soak in His presence.
This present Christmastime, imagine yourself in a forest in the middle of the night. It is pitched dark and you cannot see anything. You stumble and fall, and you do not know where to go. And then, here comes Jesus, bringing light that gives life. He is our friend who is ever present. He is the Light to the Nations, offering hope to everyone. He has the light that illumines our surrounding. His light and life flows through us and to everyone near and far. Light breaks the darkness and we all can see everything. As John said: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). Spread out your arms and open your hands to receive life this Christmas. Allow the life of Jesus to shine through you. Respond in submission to the Light of the World, the light that gives life. Amen.