I remember when my parents used to drive us around to see the Christmas lights in various neighborhoods when I was a child. That was great, but it seems like people have done a lot more with Christmas lights as the years have passed. If you’re in Houston, be sure to drive through the River Oaks neighborhood—the light displays are amazing.
Light is such an important part of Christmas. It’s also an important theme in Scripture. Paul, for example, writes about light when he wants to refer to the work of God. Darkness, for Paul, symbolizes those evil deeds that we do under cover of darkness. Paul also refers to the powers of evil that inhabit the dark spheres.
Genesis’ clear description of the creation of light is foundational for so much of the New Testament:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3)
John 1 tells us some of the hidden meanings of the book of Genesis:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5)
“In the beginning was the Word…”
The book of John begins by sounding just like the book of Genesis. In Genesis we read that the voice of God spoke light into existence (Genesis 1:3); in this passage, John clarifies for us just who that voice is.
“… and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…”
This Word is not merely the voice that God uses to say things, but it is also a separate person. We learn that this person, this logos, who was with God and who is God, is the agent of God in creation.
“All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him has nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.”
This logos who created light is, in some sense, the light Himself.
John continues this passage with repeated references to light. Sometimes he uses the word “glory,” which is closely related to the word light:
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
The word “glory” in Hebrew means “weight” or “heaviness,” and, by derivation, “honor” and “esteem.” The name “Ichabod” is based on this Hebrew word. It comes from the book of Ezekiel and means “the glory has departed.” When John begins interchanging the words “light” and “glory,” he means that this light and this glory are very heavy, weighty things.
What did John mean by this? To answer that question, you need to know more about two scenes from the Old Testament: the dedication of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, and the dedication of Solomon’s Temple. I’ll take a close look at those two scenes in my next blog post.
Related Christmas blogs:
The preceding was adapted by Rachel Motte from a sermon Dr. Robert Sloan delivered at Kingsland Baptist Church on December 22, 2013. A video of his original remarks may be viewed here.