Light Shining in the Darkness

God’s first creation is light. God spoke and light, at once, shone into the black empty void (Genesis 1:2). After, He separated the light from the darkness, marking days and creating time. After Adam’s fall, sin shattered this peace in a rebellion against God, who brought this world into existence. Bereft of sparkle and life, the universe now broods in blackness and death.

After Solomon built the Temple, he prayed for the place of God’s presence to preserve the knowledge and worship of God and become a beacon to the Gentiles (1 Kings 8:41-43). The ancient prophets pointed to the Messiah, foretold to bring Israel’s exiles back and be “a light for the nations” (Isaiah 49:6). In John’s Gospel, Jesus calls Himself the light of the world. God created light at the beginning and later sent His Son to guide us, blinded sinners, into the rays of His divine grace. Psalm 119 teaches, “The unfolding of your words [O God] gives light, giving understanding to the simple” (vs. 130).

God made “the greater light to govern the day [the Sun] and the lesser light,” referring to moonlight (Genesis 1:16). The moon reflects sunlight, not generates its own. “With unveiled faces,” as the Apostle Paul wrote, we mirror our Lord’s glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Despite once dwelling in darkness, you now “are light in the Lord.” By faith, we lead holy lives on earth as citizens of heaven living in this world. So, we “walk” in newness of life, in the radiance of God as His enlightened children (Rom 6:4, 1 John 1:7, Eph 5:8).

United to Jesus, we bring God and His blessings with us to every person we meet, for we are carriers of Christ, bearers of Him to others. Our bodies are temples of the eternal God. Wherever we go, we take the triune God: the Father, Son, and Spirit. With God living inside us, we become “the light of the world,” shining lights, people through whom God shines everywhere and conveys His gracious gifts (Matthew 5:14-16).

Amid the shadows engulfing us, dwelling in a landscape devoid of light, hope, and peace, our sense of security creeps toward extinction. Outside these doors is an immense blight—an oppressive presence suffocating our world. This pall shrouds people from the truth, often burdening them with hopelessness and lack of purpose. The specter of gloom always tries to smother and blanket the light.

Consider a spot beam burning as a beacon on a stormy night. The brightness pierces the rain and windy bleakness, beckoning us to safety through danger. St. Paul directs, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness but expose them…. Light exposes the true essence of everything” (Ephesians 5:11, 13).

Too often, we’re no different from our first parents, trying to hide from God, not go to Him. How willing are you to be exposed to God’s truth-revealing rays and His Word? Do you want God to shine His bright holiness to scrutinize your life?

Not until God sounded forth, “Where are you?” did Adam return to the light (Genesis 3:9). Abandoning the false refuge of the bush, he and Eve slinked out. In mercy, God clothed them in animal skins, providing a visceral prophecy: to cover their sin will demand blood to spill.

At other moments, we may mask our light as Peter did. In the gray light of early dawn, he stood in the high priest’s courtyard and, cursing and swearing, denied being a disciple and knowing Jesus. The rooster cackled, and he remembered his Lord’s words. “Tonight, before the cock crows, you will disown me three times.” At once, before daybreak, this giant rock of faith crumpled into tears.

Our Father proclaims us as saints in light. True, but we still gravitate toward sin’s shadow. Our fallen nature senses an instinctive comfort under cover of darkness. Of course, we can hide nothing from God. Each unfaithful thought, greedy wish, and envious yearning, He comprehends. Jesus exposed the Pharisees’ unrighteousness, lurking below their respectable facades. Whitewashed tombs, He called them, dead man’s bones filling their insides.

The burning gleam of God’s law casts our blackened hearts in bold relief, showing how contaminated we are by our sins. The little masquerade we’ve been playing exposes itself. Every vile thought, hateful utterance, bitterness, and resentment in our selfish souls displays what’s inside us. The hurt and pain we cause others and the innumerable ways we grieve our righteous and holy God show what they are: damnable sin.

God beams the light of Christ’s perfect righteousness through the cracks of our brokenness, exposing our evil rebellion. Our only hope is not in doing more and trying harder. No, in the sinless man who kept God’s standards for us, whose blood paid for our disobedience.

So, when God exposes our sins, He doesn’t do this, so we run and hide. No, to die to our dark ways and receive light, love, and forgiveness through Jesus’ wounds and words. The unforgiving law burns a light on our dismal hearts, but the Gospel glows a glimmering beam on our Father’s heart, stirring with compassion and mercy.

Last week, we focused on water; today, light. So let’s bring both together. Consider a lake but a muddy one. The sun’s light only magnifies its murky darkness. Ah, but if the lake’s pristine and untainted, the sunshine allows us to behold its secrets, marveling at what lies beneath its surface. So translucent, its glassy reflection mirrors the sky’s vast canopy, glimmering in a visual echo. Our conscience is no different—when tarnished, we don’t receive or reflect God’s radiance. Not so if we’re clean, when the light fills, enlightens, and gives us insight.

The Lenten season focuses on our status with God, not on giving up things such as alcohol or sweets for forty days. Lent centers on dying to sin because Christ Jesus died for me and my sinfulness. The heaven-sent Spirit exposes my old life to bury it in Christ’s tomb, so on Easter, I’ll rise with Him again in His resurrection light.

Your Savior is the true light who gives light to every man. One Friday afternoon, the sun disappeared, and darkness enveloped Him, closing in as He yielded His final breath. Christ trudged to Calvary with sin’s burden and shadow upon Him to redeem our souls from the depths of despair. Dead, He enters the suffocating dankness, where no light exists, from which our resurrected lives begin.

The cross removed the sting of death and brought life and immortality to light. So we hold on to the enlightening Word for the light of Christ to permeate us. Gone is the weight of our guilt, driving out our darkness, illuminating our entire beings. A new dawn rises within, where we shine, serving our neighbor and doing our blessed works (Ephesians 5:8-14).

Physical sight and life stir anew in the sun’s radiance, warming our world with its gentle embrace. The divine Word, likewise, illuminates our shadowed lands, enlightens our darkened minds, and gifts us with grace. Remember, what matters isn’t the size of our faith. No, the enormity of God’s salvation in Christ, who died and rose for both our outward sins and inward doubts. The daylight of His mercy outshines our midnight misgivings.

Through His Word, the triune God comes to us, makes His home in us, and fills us with His radiant presence (John 14:23). Now, we live as children of light on this sin-darkened earth, belonging to God’s kingdom while serving in this worldly realm. From God the Father through His Son in the Holy Spirit, we discover life amid death.

“The night is past,” St. Paul bursts out. “The day is at hand. Discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12). So, who or what is our protection? Christ Himself in His full regalia—His righteousness, purity, and holiness.

Our Lord Jesus supplies us with whatever we need for spiritual combat in this world—none of which we have in ourselves. Everything necessary comes our way in God’s Son, the conqueror in the strife. The battle belongs to Him, who alone is our salvation and delivers us from the foe. The irony is we cannot gaze at this armor or its protection. Unseen by us—yes—but visible to Satan and the other dark powers.

Our heavenly Father provides us with grace and guidance as we travel on our course. Little by little, He dismantles our reliance upon ourselves. Left is our bare, fragile human essence, which must rely on God, not ourselves. Later, as death sweeps in, our Lord snatches our soul, taking away everything we own. Why? To grant us His everlasting blessings, which neither time nor power can slay. Our days go by as we decrease and God increases, giving us every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

Of course, this internal transformation is invisible to you, me, and those around us. Others cannot, nor do we, view ourselves as our God perceives us. God beholds us as we are, resplendent in His Son, not as we appear to our fallen perceptions. Our Lord covers us with His purity, holiness, and glory, disclosed at the resurrection when we will rejoice in Him, face-to-face. In the meantime, we journey, bearing God’s language of light on our lips, speaking to a world groping in darkness.

Yes, Christ guides us through the chasm of dying and death. Our physical, fallen flesh fades as our Lord’s heavenly life shines on us, fuller and brighter. With and yet waiting for us, Jesus will usher us from our midnight story into the brightness of His radiance. Amen.