Last weekend I watched the second instalment of The Hobbit in preparation for the next film hitting the cinema soon. (Bear with me if you’re not a Lord of the Rings fan, I’ll move on swiftly!) I always enjoy these films, even if they take liberties with Tolkien’s original dialogue! I was particularly struck by a scene that sees Gandalf the Wizard fighting the evil Necromancer. It’s the universal ‘good versus evil’ struggle.
The Necromancer, surrounded by his dark forces boasts to Gandalf “There is no light, Wizard…that can defeat darkness.” And in that moment it seems to be true.
It’s stirring stuff! But it’s wrong of course.
Outside of dramatic villainous monologue I hope we don’t believe that this is true!
But perhaps on dreary days, when our worries threaten to overwhelm, or we face suffering, or the issues in the news are horrifying, we can be tempted to think that the darkness is stronger, and the bright joys of Christmas preparations can serve to make our struggles starker.
A friend articulated this last week when she asked me “Nim, how do you know that good will eventually win?”
A Light That Shines in the Darkness
In the Bible, in the opening lines of the gospel of John we read: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” And as the writer continues, you start to realise that this light is a person…and more than a person, God himself, come to earth. Ultimately the darkness will not win.
The Bible describes Jesus as “the light of the world” because he is able to do something about the darkness. However deep the darkness grows, Jesus Christ has the authority and the power to bring hope that can’t be defeated. He is a light that spreads and illuminates, and banishes darkness. Jesus is the light who will deal with sin, and evil, and suffering, and all the things that can make us feel as though the darkness is defeating us. And we celebrate the beginning of this rescue at Christmas!
A Light That Conquers
At first the light of the world doesn’t look like much, a tiny baby, not born in a palace, but in a stable, in a tiny Jewish town. Yet Jesus Christ is a light that grows and builds, winning a decisive, cosmic victory at the cross that reverberates throughout history. That’s why so many of the Carols that we sing at Christmas time contain words like JOY and LIGHT and PEACE and HOPE!
We mustn’t lose our nerve when the darkness seems to be all around. Like the Necromancer, Satan wants us to believe that he will overwhelm the light, but the Bible never even sees this as a possibility – giving us a sneak peek at the end of the story too in Revelation chapter 21:
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new! . . . The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light . . . 24 The nations will walk by its light”
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
I wish you all a joyful, life-filled Christmas, as you celebrate the birth of Jesus the light of the world