This Little Light
Buenos dias from Nicaragua!
Every Monday evening, at the request of Maria Jose, the Director of the orphanage, I do a short devotional for the teenagers at Puente de Amistad. As I considered what to do this past Monday, I arrived at John 1:5-9, which says, “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; He came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (NIV 1984). As I read over those verses, I thought about why, during this period of history, they needed light. I also pondered what that means for us today and why this picture of light is so important. Lastly, I considered what the light was and is, and why that mattered. I would suggest that the answers to these questions, though in some ways they may seem basic, can change the world.
So, why did they need light at the time this passage was written? Was the sun not working properly? Was everyone stumbling around in darkness, wishing the flashlight had been invented a couple of thousand years earlier? Obviously, the answer to both of these questions is no (the kids got this one right too). As far as I can tell from history, the sun was functioning properly and people weren’t overly concerned about a lack of physical light. Why light, then? As one of the kids said, “Maybe it’s spiritual”. An important fact to know about this point in time in the Jewish nation is that God had been relatively silent for quite some time and they were being ruled over by the Romans. In many ways, it was more than likely a time of great hopelessness for many people. The only hope was the promised Messiah, spoken about many times in the Old Testament, who would bring freedom and hope to the world. However, it is possible that many people had lost hope and were living in a state of darkness, despair and resignation that things would never change. This is why they needed light or, to say it another way, The Light. There is hope in the light, both for today and for eternity.
If the light wasn’t about physical light, but was about a spiritual light that brings hope, what exactly was it? I think it is easy to gloss over this question and just say “Jesus” and move on, but I think we are selling it significantly short when we do that. Yes, the light was and is Jesus, but not a Jesus who was untouchable and incomprehensible, a Jesus who lived here on earth. The light was a real, live person. Jesus, who is God and one with God the Father, left a perfect heaven to live as a person in a dark and hopeless world with imperfect and broken people. Not only that, but he spent time with, healed, taught, ate with, did life with and, ultimately, died for said less than deserving people. The light wasn’t about a religion; it was about renewing a relationship with our Creator that comes through a relationship with a real person, Jesus, The Light. I find it incredible to think that God would decide to humble himself to live with us and die for us in order to restore a relationship that we, as humans, had decided to walk away from. The light that brings hope is a person, Jesus the Christ.
It is for this reason and the upcoming celebration that I picked this topic for the devotional. As we enter December and move towards Christmas, I believe it is important to remember the significance of what we are celebrating. The birth of Christ was the moment when everything changed; a world that was dark and without hope found a light strong enough to change eternity and bring hope to everyone. Next week we will take a look at the second question and what this light means for us today.
I hope, no matter where you are or what life has brought you this week, you will find hope in the Light of Life.
– James Belt