DARKNESS AND LIGHT
Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 9:1–7
What one thing do you enjoy most about Christmas?
Maybe you anticipate taking the family, including the dog, out to a snowy field to pick out and cut down your own majestic pine tree. Or perhaps you look forward to that one big, all-day family party that allows you to catch up with your siblings and their children. Or maybe your thing is the annual neighborhood Christmas light competition that has you and your buddies upping the ante every year. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, Isaiah looked forward to the first Christmas with a prophecy about the Messiah. In the Bible “prophets” speak on behalf of God to his people. Sometimes they deliver their message to one individual. In other instances an entire nation receives the message. On still other occasions, as with Isaiah’s prophecy, the message concerns the future. Through the prophet Isaiah God promised a Messiah—a Savior—for his people.
Notice that each of the names of the Messiah in this passage has two parts. “Wonderful Counselor” portrays the Messiah as coming to carry out a program of redemption in the world. “Mighty God” stresses his power as a divine warrior. “Everlasting Father” depicts the Messiah as an enduring, compassionate provider and protector. As “Prince of Peace,” his rule would bring wholeness and peace to individuals and to society as a whole. This is the Jesus we have come to know through the teachings of the New Testament.
To the original hearers of this word, the prospect of a Messiah came as hopeful and welcome news. The people needed a Savior because they lived in spiritual darkness and in separation from God. Like those ancient Hebrews, every one of us enters the world in a state of spiritual darkness. The sinful nature within each of us creates a void that we try unsuccessfully to fill on our own. But only Jesus, the Messiah, brings light. Until God shines this great light of his love on us, we can neither see nor comprehend our need to reconnect to him.
When we receive the great light of God’s love, we no longer have to worry, fret or fear. Instead, we can experience the peace that only the “Prince of Peace” (verse 6) provides. The next time you drag out the lights to drape on the tree or hang from the rafters, remember that Jesus, our Messiah, came into the world to shed welcome light into a dark, dark place.
To Take Away
- What are some ways you can place a greater emphasis on the Messiah’s birth at Christmastime?
- Do you know friends and family members who still live in spiritual darkness? What steps can you take to tell them about Jesus, the Savior?
- What fears concern you right now? How can you surrender your worries to the Prince of Peace?