St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Our Light Has Come

Christmas Day Sermon on Isaiah 60:1

Text: Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.

I’d like to ask you a couple of questions about your Christmas lights. If you have lights outside your home, when do you put them up? Do you put them up the day after Thanksgiving or do you put them up on a nice day, whenever that might be? Perhaps, you are one of those people who leave their lights up year-round, saving the hassle of putting them up every year. What about the lights that are on your tree? Are they a solid color or are they multi-colored? Do they twinkle or are they on all the time? Nobody knows how lights became an integral part of the Christmas decorating tradition. Whatever the reason, it isn’t hard to make the logical connection to the story of Christ’s birth. The angels, as they appeared to the shepherds, lit up the sky. The star that the wise men followed must have been a bright light. As we study our text this morning, we rejoice that OUR LIGHT HAS COME. 1. The Glory Of The LORD Has Risen. Because this is true, we are encouraged to 2. Arise And Shine.

The Bible often contrasts the pictures of light and dark. Darkness is a way to describe us, by nature. We were helplessly and hopelessly lost in the darkness. The darkness is our sins. We were born into this darkness. Scriptures speaks of the sins that we commit as being deeds of darkness. Some of those deeds are darkness are highlighted in Romans 13 and Ephesians 5. Among them we find greediness. We are not satisfied with what God has given us. We are like a child who has opened a mound of presents, but is unhappy, because they didn’t get the present that they really wanted. God has given us so many blessings, but we find ourselves dissatisfied and wish that we had something else. Another deed of darkness that is mentioned in the above verses is dissension. This is being a disagreeable person. We quibble and fight about the littlest of things. When someone doesn’t see things our way, we get upset with them and may hold a grudge against them. We were in this darkness. If we had been left in this darkness, we would have stumbled around our entire lifetime until we fell head-long into hell. We were lost in this darkness.

This is why we rejoice at Christmas. God tells us, “Your light has come.” The light that will lead you to safety has arrived. Just in case there is any question about the identity of this light, Jesus tells us very plainly, “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) Jesus is the Light that came down from heaven to lead us from darkness into his wonderful light.

Isaiah further describes this light by saying, “The glory of the LORD rises upon you.” God’s glory has risen upon us. To be sure, to the human eye, there was nothing glorious about the arrival of the Christ. Mary and Joseph had to leave Nazareth to go to Bethlehem for taxation purposes. Because there was no place for them to stay, Mary was forced to give birth in a place where there were animals. Jesus’ first bed was a not a cozy crib, but a manger that was filled with hay. The first people to come and see him were not the upper crust of society, but simple shepherds.

If you look for glory in the rest of Jesus’ life, you would have to look very hard. He did not have a home to call his own. His life was spent traveling from place to place. When he spoke, there were some who were glad to hear what Jesus said. Many others, however, took offense at what he had to say. Their anger at his words turned into hatred. This hatred led them to have him arrested, mistreated and put upon a cross. Jesus was put to death in one of the most painful ways that mankind has ever devised. One would have to ask, “Where is the glory in this?

However, there is more here than what meets the eye. You see, when the Old Testament Hebrew heard the phrase, “the glory of the LORD,” he would be think of those special times in Israel’s history when God made his presence known to them. One of those times was when the LORD rescued his people from the Egyptians at the Red Sea. Another time was when Solomon dedicated the temple that had been built in Jerusalem. We are told that the glory of the LORD came down upon the place. When the Hebrew read “glory of the LORD,” they would think of God’s presence. How fitting when we look at Jesus. Yes, to the human eye, his life looked anything but glorious. However, with the eye of faith, we see something completely different. We look beyond that baby lying there and see the Son of God, who left his throne in heaven to be our Savior. We don’t just see a humble teacher from Nazareth. We see the Son of God living a perfect life for us. Our eyes go beyond the cruel suffering and death and see that there the Son of God was paying for our sins. When Jesus rose from the darkness of death, he brought the light of eternal life. Through the working of the Holy Spirit, you have been brought from the darkness of sin and unbelief into this wonderful light. At Christmas, we praise our God for sending his Light into the world. The glory of the LORD has risen and, by his grace, shines brightly in our lives.

For this reason, we are called upon to arise and shine. We are to get up and be a light in this darkened world. Jesus put it this way in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” We are to live in contrast to the way the rest of the world lives. We want to live in such a way that glorifies and thanks God for all that he has done for us. Let the joy that fills your heart at the birth of your Savior be evident in that way that you act and speak. We, also, note that the light is not something that is of our own doing. Rather, it is a reflection of the light that has been shined upon us. This is similar to the fact that the moon does not produce light on its own. It is a reflection of the light of the sun. We reflect the light of Jesus that has shone in our lives to those around us. Our entire purpose in doing so is not to bring attention to ourselves, but to him who has given everything to us. Peter reminds us of this privilege in his first epistle, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) May God help us to get up and reflect the light of Jesus in our lives.

It is true that a beautifully lit home and tree can bring great joy at Christmas. There’s just something about the lights of Christmas that make people happy. The truth of the matter is that those lights are only temporary. Some of the light burn out. Most, if not all of them, will be taken down at some point in time. However, the Light that came down at Christmas has shone brightly for centuries. It will continue to shine for all eternity. Rejoice in that Light, which shows us so clearly that God loves us. Reflect that Light throughout your lives. Dear friends, we rejoice to hear these words, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.” Amen.