Christmas Eve Devotions "From Dark to Light" Pastor Josh Bodden
Genesis 3:1-24 Darkness
You knew you shouldn’t have done it, but you did it anyways. Well, that’s an oddly non-specific accusation. But it’s true. And I know that you have to agree. Because you are a sinner. How many times have you had those temptations come to you, whatever those temptations might be, and you know that you shouldn’t listen to your sinful nature that pleaded with you to just give in. To give into sin. That you shouldn’t listen to the whisper of Satan that says, “what’s the big deal? Did God really say you can’t do this? Why would he say that? He’s just trying to keep you from having fun.” You know that you shouldn’t trust in the lies of the world when they try to explain that sin really isn’t a big deal. After all, what’s the problem with just one little sin? How do you feel afterwards knowing what God says about that one little sin; and all of the other sins that you have fallen for? With that heavy weight of guilt. Of sorrow over falling for the same old lies all over again. You knew better, but still: sin. Sin that brought death and darkness to the world. Darkness over what God had made perfect. Darkness over what he lovingly made. Darkness over what should be a world of peace, joy, and free from any sorrow. But it’s because Adam and Eve faced the same situation. Maybe different circumstances, but the same problem. The fruit that hung in front of them was so wonderful looking, and Satan’s words sounded so true: maybe God really was just trying to keep the best wisdom to himself. Maybe he really was keeping Adam and Eve in the dark. What’s the big deal? It’s just one little bite! But Adam stood silently by, not raising a cry of alarm. Eve reached out her hand and took the fruit. One bite and her eyes were opened. Adam took a bite and he suddenly knew. He understood evil. Because he and his wife had become evil. By turning their backs on God. By going against his perfect will that was there to protect them. And the world was suddenly ruined. Doomed by sin. Death for all people. Because all deserve death. Darkness covered all of creation. Adam and Eve, and all of their offspring would be a endless line of sinners. What could possibly bring light? And yet…God. Amen.
Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 Promise of Light
When that first sin occurred, when darkness covered over the brilliance of God’s creation there was fear. Adam and Eve ran to hide, knowing that they were no longer worthy. They covered themselves to hide their shame. They understood what they had done. They knew what they deserved. God’s righteous decree was obvious: guilty. The sentence? Death. And they were guilty. And death did come. But not in the way they thought. Because God brought them a promise. A promise? To these two who ruined all that he had created? Yes. Because our God is full of mercy. He spoke to them about a distant Savior who would rescue them from their sins. A promise that would be passed down from parents to children. A promise of light. Despite the darkness, despite the pain and suffering, despite the worries and concerns of their life, this promise means everything. Put yourself in their shoes: looking ahead to the Messiah. All around you there is death. Sorrow. Pain. Suffering. All around you is sin. But you have a sure and certain hope because God himself promised you that this Savior will come to rescue. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:2, 6) We understand that darkness because we see it in the sins of the world. We see it in the sins of those around us. We know that darkness because we struggle with it every time temptation calls to us or sin pulls at us. It can all feel so overwhelming, so impossible. But wait. God Promises us the light of the world. Wait and trust in his goodness. Because the light is coming. Amen.
Luke 2:1-7 Light Comes to the World
How many times have we heard these words? How many times have we recited these words for a Christmas Church service? Be honest, how many of you could have spoken the words along with me when I read them? Such a comforting passage of Scripture. But do we always dwell on the richness of these words? Do we understand the full weight of what is occurring? Can we even truly grasp the entirety of God’s actions? In these few simple verses we see the joy and the bright light that the Jews had desperately been waiting for. That the world needed. Ever since he first promised Adam and Eve a Savior, God had been placing signs and promises like a roadmap for the Jews. Words that encouraged them as they waited in the darkness of sin and death for the Messiah to arrive. Promises of a light to come to a people sitting in the shadow of sin and death.
Then Jesus arrived and a bright star marked out his appearance. A star for all the world to see, and that even led men from far away to come and worship him. Because as bright as that star was, it held nothing on the one whose birth it proclaimed. “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5) “Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) “For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) Should we keep going? Passage after beautiful passage reminding us of the bright and glorious light that Jesus brings to us. Sin cast its dark shadow over all people and they cowered in fear. But Jesus came to destroy its power. In a world filled with strife, hatred, anger, violence, and death, Jesus’ birth brought peace! He brought fulfillment to every promise he had ever made. Brothers and sisters in Christ: the long awaited Messiah, the Savior the of the world, the one who breaks the darkness of our fear has been born. And he has come to rescue the whole world from their sins! Amen.
Luke 2:8-20 Promise for Us
Who were the first ones to come and pay their respects to this new king? Shepherds. Not magistrates, not important dignitaries. Not the rich and powerful. Shepherds. Yes, absolutely, there will be wise men coming, but their journey is long and slow. The very first people to have been led to the light of the world were a bunch of guys in ragged clothes and considered pretty unimportant by the standards of the day. But God didn’t hold back: he sent an angel with the most important message the world had ever heard: “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” These are the people God chose. Not the high and mighty but the normal. The regular. And if one angel wasn’t enough: “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” These simple ordinary men hear God’s declaration of peace. He points them to the light of the world.
Have you ever marveled at God’s decision to call you? I mean, who are you really? By the way, I’m not trying to tear you down or make you feel bad about yourself! This is Christmas after all! But look at us! Are any of us world shakers? Are any of us world leaders? In the bigger scheme of things, the world doesn’t that that we are all that important. But God says you are. He shows it by declaring to you: “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” God came to you while you were in the darkness of sin and unbelief and he showed himself to you: the light of his love and forgiveness. Yes, for you. The working of faith in your heart is a brilliant light that brings endless joy. God loves you. He cares about you. What do we do with that message? What did the shepherds do? We honor the king, and then we bring the news of his birth, life, death, and resurrection to the world. Because we can’t keep this light to ourselves. Brothers and sisters, rejoice: your darkness is gone, the light of the world has come for you. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Amen.