Christmas: Unexpected Light in the Darkness

by Dec 23, 2009

light-rayTwo thousand years ago, many people in Israel were eagerly looking forward to the coming of the Messiah, but absolutely nobody expected him to come the way he did.

It would have been inconceivable that God’s divine light would come to earth at that time, at that place, and in that manner. To most people, it seemed that Darkness was gaining ground much more rapidly than Light. Even Mary and Joseph must have shivered in the darkness of the time.

As they came into the city of Bethlehem, the first thing Mary and Joseph would have seen was the Herodian, that towering palace built by the genocidal King Herod as his vacation home, high above Bethlehem. As Mary gave birth to Jesus, chances are she would have heard the sounds of one of Herod’s wild and hedonistic parties spilling down the hillside.

Imagine Jesus being born on the lawn of the Playboy mansion.

The first visitors Mary and Joseph received to greet the newborn king were a group of shepherds. In the social structure of the day, shepherds were considered so godless that they weren’t even allowed past the outer courtyards of the temple in Jerusalem. And these guys were so bad they couldn’t even hold a day job – they were the night-shift shepherds!

Imagine Jesus in the manger with a crowd of dirty ice-addicts around him.

When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem for his dedication 40 days after his birth, they would have been faced with corrupt priests and temple merchants who forced them to buy animal sacrifices at exorbitant prices.

Imagine Jesus being blessed by the slimiest televangelists on TV.

There’s no way that Joseph and Mary could ignore the darkness around them. That’s why the words of John concerning Jesus are so striking: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5).

The darkness has not overcome it!

Thirty-three years after the birth of Christ, this message was especially crucial. Jesus was hanging on the cross, and it seemed like light had been completely snuffed out. After he died to pay the penalty for our sins, that message was proven true in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead – Light reigned triumphantly!

Now, two thousand years later, the light is shining through once again. While those of us in Hawaii are reportedly the second happiest group of people in America (Really? Louisiana? Really?), too often our easygoing nature and aloha spirit is nothing more than a thin veneer covering over darkness that we would rather keep hidden.

The incredible message of Christmas is this: God’s light of grace and truth shines into the darkness of our hearts, and the darkness will not overcome it!