Isaiah depicts the coming of the Christ as the arrival of the Light:

‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned’ [9:2].

Zechariah seems to have had this prophecy in mind in the final words of his song:

‘... because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace’ [Luke 1:78,79].

Matthew quotes these words from Isaiah in a direct application to Jesus Christ [Matthew 4:15,16].

John, without quoting Isaiah, emphasises the identity of Jesus as the Light:

‘In his was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it’ [John 1:4,5].

‘The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world’ [John 1:9].

‘This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.’ [John 3:19].

‘... 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].

‘While I am in the world, I am the light of the world’ [John 9:5].

‘I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness’ [John 12:46].

Paul condensed the entire Christ-event into the concept of ‘light’:

‘For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ’ [2Corinthians 4:6].

And Peter refers to God calling ‘us out of darkness into his marvellous light’ [1Peter 2:10].

Isaiah makes further reference to the coming of the Christ as the coming of the light:

That Christ is ‘a light for the Gentiles’, the one who brings God’s salvation ‘to the ends of the earth’ [42:6; 49:6].

And issues the exultant challenge:

‘Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you’ [60:1,2].

This is the challenge of the first Christmas, and of every Christmas:

That here in this Child, in this Christ, is the Light, the one Light that can rescue each one of us from our spiritual darkness.

That here in this Child, this Christ, is the Light of Life, come to deliver us from the shadow of death.

That here in this Child, this Christ, the glory of the invisible God is visible; here we see God.

May it never be true of us that we love the darkness rather than light. Rather, may we glory and rejoice in this Christmas child, this Christ, this Light. May the Christmas lights we set up – on our houses, on our Christmas trees, on our festive tables – be an expression of the true attitude of our hearts: that we have received Jesus Christ the Light of the world; that we no longer walk in the darkness of ignorance of God but have the Light of life.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2016