“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.”
For unto us a child is born,
To us a son is given…
When we think of Christmas, we often think of light and yet, the birth of Jesus came in a time of great darkness.
The voice of God had not been heard for over four centuries.
Since the prophet Malachi in fifth century BC, God had been silent.
His final words promising the “Sun of Righteousness” that would arise over those who fear the Lord – a distant memory and a faded hope.
One of the Jewish writers of that day, Maccabees, wrote that “(the Israelite People) tore down the altar and stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple hill” during that time. They did this “until there should come a prophet to tell them what to do with them.”
The people of Israel felt lost.
And they felt the loss of God’s voice every single day of the four centuries of silence.
But that was not all.
Jesus came into a time of great silence, yes - but also of great oppression.
Israel was under the rule of the Roman Empire.
The census taken in Luke 2:1 was a blatant reminder that the people of Israel were now owned by another.
Roman Soldiers walked their streets.
They policed their every move.
Taxes swallowed up their incomes.
Daughters were taken for the Soldier’s enjoyment.
Their belongings were no longer their own.
Yes, they still lived on their land, but they lived aware – their land was no longer their land. It was Caesar’s. They were Caesar’s.
And in the midst of this silence and oppression, the nation of Israel was breaking apart.
This was a time of great division.
Four main groups divided Israel: (1) the Pharisees in Jerusalem trying to maintain authority through tradition and legalism, (2) the Sadducees who opposed them and held tightly to Mosaic Law, (3) the Essenes who lived near Qumran, and (4) the Zealots who were a band of brothers who no longer prayed for change like the Essenes, but sought violent means to overthrow Roman rule.
It was a time of constant tension.
No one could agree.
Riots were common.
Families were split apart.
And beyond all of this – there was man’s sin.
Sin that separated man from God and made a world once beautiful now broken.
Shame, death, guilt, lies, addiction, bondage, adultery – it was all present.
This was the world – this divided, broken, sinful, oppressed, lost, and very dark world – that the “true light, which gives light to everyone” would come (John 1:9).
To those “dwelling in darkness,” wrapped up in “the shadow of death” – Matthew 4:16 says “a light would dawn” and a “great light” would be seen.
As they stumbled in twilight and groped for something to hold onto in their darkness, a light would come into the world that would shine into the darkness and “not be overcome (John 1:5).”
A light called JESUS.
Whatever your "world" looks like today, whatever you may be going through - know this: Light has come.
Maybe you have felt lost like Israel did - wandering without any clear direction.
Jesus said, "I am the way...." Run towards Him and you will find the path of life (John 14:6)
Maybe you've felt held captive, oppressed, burdened, trapped with no way out.
Jesus said, "I am the truth..." and truth sets us free (John 8:32)
Maybe you have felt the pain of division and broken relationships...maybe your marriage, family, friendships look like nothing but a valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37).
Jesus said, "I am the life..." Life abundantly, life to the full, life everlasting (John 10:10). He resurrects, He restores, He resuscitates.
And maybe...just maybe sin and shame have become cycles and patterns that feel unbreakable... Maybe the cost of someone's sin was your heart, your wholeness, your peace, your joy and you feel the heartbreak of what they did today...Maybe you feel so far from salvation, you question if His arm can reach to rescue you.
Jesus said, "No man can come to the Father except through me." He is the gate. His cross built a bridge. All you have to do is call on Him and He will answer and show you "great and mighty things (Jeremiah 33:3)." Romans tells us that anyone who calls on Him will be saved. That "anyone" could be YOU today.
Say His name.
Let the light in.
And watch as the dark flees.