Section 1: The Light of the World
Darkness and light in the Bible often serve as metaphors for all that is broken by sin (darkness) and all manner of things which are good and beautiful (light). Advent is a season of looking at the biblical story of the collision between the two.
Surely, we know that this world is neither all light nor all darkness. Daily there are moments of glad delight and great sorrow all over the world. Advent invites us to deal honestly with this reality. Light and darkness are always at hand. And the choice is ours. The prophet Isaiah warns the people of God against making the wrong choice:
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness. —Isaiah 5:20
It’s as if the prophet would have our senses awakened to the reality of the choice at hand: the bitter, dark way of evil or the sweet, illuminating way of good.
Yet if the choice is truly ours to make, why do we so often choose the way of darkness? This was true of our first parents, Adam and Eve. On the first pages of the Bible, we see humanity made in and for goodness and beauty (Genesis 1:26–31). And the choice was theirs—light, for which they were made, or darkness, which would lead to death. And what did they choose? The same thing we so often choose, and the same thing Isaiah warns us against: darkness (Genesis 3:1–15).
But Advent is about God’s refusal to let the darkness win. The psalmist writes that even when I choose to hide in the darkness, the same God who made me for good will illuminate the darkness in order to rescue me (Psalm 139:11–12). Even when I choose the bitter darkness of evil, God in His love pushes back the darkness with His goodness. No more clearly is this seen than in the person of Jesus. Illuminating the darkness and rescuing those trapped therein is why Jesus came into the world.
The first advent of Jesus was to save sinners, rescuing us from the domain of darkness. At the second advent of Jesus, He will fully put an end to all that is dark in the world, fully and finally.
In Christ, God has proven that he refuses to let the darkness win. So then, the choice is reframed: It is not simply between darkness and light, evil and good. For we will choose darkness far more than we would like. In the end, the choice must be to surrender to Jesus, the very Light of the World, and learn to trust Him to deliver us again and again from the darkness within and around us with that mercy, overflowing grace, faith, and love that Paul spoke of, which is fully ours in Jesus (1Timothy 1:12–17).