by Darrell Wacker
“For my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
Luke 2:30-32 ESV
A recent story in the news recounted the story of three University of Texas students who had gone spelunking-or cave exploring-and became lost and disoriented. The students were plunged into complete darkness for nearly 30 hours in a world completely foreign to them-dark, damp, quiet, devoid of life. As their fear increased and the hours went by, doubt of being found began to set in, despite the fact that they had left clues for anyone who might come looking for them.
It seems our three explorers must have had a hunch something might go wrong, because they left items behind on their way into the cave, marking their path. Rescuers found empty water bottles, cell phones, and fresh leaves to indicate where the cavers had been, and used those items to eventually find them muddy, wet, hungry, and thirsty, yet otherwise unharmed.
I am sure that more than once during their ordeal one or all of the students wished they had a flashlight or a match-anything at all that could provide a glimmer of light that would comfort them, calm their fear, perhaps show them the way out.
Light comes in many forms-from the warm rays of the sun on a summer day, to the flickering of a flame on a candle. All of us rely on light to accomplish the tasks of each day, and we often take it for granted. After all, flipping a light switch to turn on a light certainly isn’t remarkable-its only remarkable if the light doesn’t come on. Lights are all around us, a part of our very existence.
There was a time, though, when that wasn’t the case. As a matter of fact, there was a time when light itself didn’t even exist. The earth was dark, formless, and empty-only the Spirit of God existed. With four simple words, however, God changed the universe eternally-“Let there be light.” Thus began the creation of the earth, the stars and planets, the creatures of the seas, and finally, man, the pinnacle of God’s creation, created in God’s own image.
Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story, for if it was, the earth would still be perfect, basking in God’s light, with no sickness, war, or death. The story continues not with a happily-ever-after tale, but instead with rebellion, sin, murder, and judgment. Adam and Eve plunged our world into darkness of a new kind, one that had never been known. It is the darkness of separation-separation from the God who created us, who loves us, and who grieves over our sin.
Although not a perfect comparison, that darkness is in some ways similar to that the three Texas students found themselves in-utter, lonely darkness, and complete separation from the world they knew, with no light whatsoever.
Sin drives each of us into that same sort of darkness-separated from the God who loves us, and separated from the persons we have sinned against. Just like the cavers who wanted to descend into the cave, our sinful nature plunges us into sin willfully, not thinking about the consequences. Sin leaves us in a deep, dark hole that leads to fear, loneliness, and ultimately death.
Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us in the deep darkness of sin. Unable to rescue ourselves, God knows just where we are, who we are, and more importantly, whose we are. He seeks us out, not because we deserve it, but because of His mercy and grace, and He provides us the true Light-Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the Light that shatters the darkness of our sin, allowing us to emerge from the shadows to new life in Him. The perfect life, death, and resurrection of Christ accomplishes that what we cannot do ourselves-defeat of sin, death, and the devil-and in turn gives each of us a new life, both now and for eternity.
Through the proclamation of God’s Word, our Lord casts light where there is darkness, proclaims freedom to the captives of sin, and reveals the true Light-Jesus. Through the waters of Holy Baptism and the body and blood of our savior in the Sacrament of the Altar God gives forgiveness of sins, and creates new life and light in each of us.
God’s Word can be harsh at first, showing us our sin, pointing out where we fall short. It’s harsh when a light is turned on first thing in the morning, and it was even harder for the cavers to adjust to the bright light as they emerged from the darkness, and so it is with the Word. Yet with the harshness also comes salvation as revealed in the person and work of Jesus on the cross. Once the Light has been revealed, we can sing with Simeon “my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people.”
Darrell Wacker is a member of St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Huber Heights, Ohio, where he serves on the Parish Education Committee and as a Communion Assistant. He works for the YMCA of Greene County as a Grant Writer and as a freelance sports writer covering high school sports for Times Community Newspapers in Dayton, Ohio. He is the husband of Barbara, and the father of Matthew (19) and Daniel (7).
Created: October 25th, 2007