“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”
John 8:12 (NIV UK)
This Sunday marks the beginning of the Advent season, a time when many Christians start preparing for Christmas. Have you ever visited the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico? The caverns are beautiful, massive underground caves; some of which have never seen sunlight! Down there, if you turn off the lights you’re thrown into absolute darkness. Imagine my surprise when the Park Ranger did just that!
I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face. As my eyes tried to adjust, a wave of fear and anxiety built up inside me. I felt that I would be stuck underground forever. Finally, the ranger turned on a flashlight and pointed it at the rock ceiling. Even though it wasn’t much stronger than a candle, the beam illuminated the entire cavern, chasing away the darkness. As soon as I saw that light, my fear disappeared. That experience reminded me of: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2).
Isaiah lived in a time of war and uncertainty, when it seemed as if there were no hope for deliverance from invasion and occupation. Doesn’t sound that different from our world today, does it? He used the imagery of light and darkness to describe the feelings of the people of Israel, hoping and yearning for deliverance. “See, darkness covers the earth… but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you” (Isaiah 60:2).
During Advent, we try to remember what it must have been like to hope for the Messiah. Six hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Zechariah wrote: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you, righteous and having salvation is he…” (Zechariah 9:9 ESV). These prophecies must have been like beams of light in a time when darkness and sorrow plagued Israel. After experiencing the complete blackout of the Carlsbad Caverns, I had a small taste of what hopelessness would feel like. We may be thankful that Zechariah’s prophecy was made flesh in the form of Jesus Christ, the one who said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
As we move closer to Christmas, I wanted to take a second to remind us what Advent actually means. It’s the anglicised version of the Latin adventus, which means ‘coming’, as in “the Lord is coming”. In examining the theme of Hope, we are reminded that we have been brought out of darkness and now live in the light and hope of Jesus Christ. And that’s something truly we can celebrate!
Merciful Father, to live with your peace is to know a joy unobtainable to the world. We look forward to the day when all will experience this peace. In Jesus’ name.
Study by Joseph Tkach
About the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA. You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.