Our lesson this week is our Christmas Sunday School lesson on Christmas Eve! Christmas Eve is actually my favorite day of the year! So, I hope all of you are having a wonderful Christmas season and I thank you for reading over the commentary of this week’s lesson. Our lesson this week, of course, focuses on Christ — the Light of Christmas.
The Word of God
Our lesson this week opens with very familiar scripture for all of you who have followed my ministry for over a decade now. John opened his gospel by speaking of the Word of God. John wrote, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1)”.
Present in the beginning
John 1:1 is one of my favorite verses. The reason why it is one of my favorite verses is because of how it draws attention to the Word not simply being a written word. John shows us that God’s word was manifested in the flesh and that the one manifested is God.
I do briefly want to take a moment to explain the “beginning” that John spoke of because I don’t want us to equate the “beginning” with our literal thoughts on the relativity of time. What do I mean by this? Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God creating the heavens and the earth is the start of time. God did not create Himself – He was present before the creation which means that He is not bound to our limits – the limits of the physical universe and time.
God is eternal and we should not limit Him to our limits. In Revelation 22:13, Jesus said about Himself, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” To be both the beginning and end speaks to how time is not relative to God – HE is eternal. God, we should understand, came from the eternal domain and manifested Himself in the world. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The Light of the World
John said it best when he said, “In Him (Jesus/the Word) was life, and the life was the light of men (v.4).” Let’s be clear that John was not talking about physical life being in Jesus but true life – everlasting life – was in Him. As God breathed into mankind’s nostrils and we, mankind, became living souls, Jesus desired to breathe new life into mankind; life that could not come to an end.
Meaning of the light
You better believe that when John wrote, “the life was the light of men”, that Jesus proclaiming to the people and the religious leaders that He was the “light of the world” was on his mind (John 8:12). What does it mean that Jesus is the light of the world? Well, let us consider why Jesus was given to the world. Yes, He was given to the world to save the world, but how did Jesus go about saving the world?
I imagine most of us will answer: Jesus died on the cross. Yes, He absolutely did do that and His sacrifice – His shed blood – is the atonement offering for our sin. However, there is something else that must be done in order for one to be saved, right? Think about it, if all it took was for Jesus’ death, wouldn’t everyone be saved? However, is everyone saved? Who is it that is saved?
As I mentioned throughout our lessons in the fall quarter, Jesus was given to the world as a rebuke of the world. God gave to the children of Israel, through Moses, His word (law/instructions) on stone tablets, right? However, when Israel did not heed God’s law, nor His rebuke, scripture tells us, again, that He made His word flesh. Jesus rebuked the world as He told mankind to repent (turn from sin and living in wickedness) and follow Him— be obedient to His instructions.
As the light of the world, Jesus revealed the divine truth to mankind; we are transgressors of God’s way and need to repent in order to truly live. As the light of the world, Jesus will lead those who follow Him down the narrow path to the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:14). Though the light revealed such a wonderful truth, John also makes a really good point that many did not comprehend the truth the light revealed (v.5). To this day, many still do not comprehend what the light has revealed.
Imitators of what has been revealed
Jesus was given to the world to guide us in the way of attaining our holiness and righteousness so that we can inherit the heavenly kingdom. Let’s be very clear about this point: nobody can become righteous and inherit the heavenly kingdom without Christ. As Jesus shared with the disciples, He is the way, the truth, and the light; nobody can go to the Father except through (or by) Him.
As our lesson skips to Ephesians 5, we will see Paul speak to the thought of what the light revealed to us and how we should carry ourselves now that the light has been revealed to the world. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
Now, what does it mean to be imitate? Merriam-Webster defines imitate as to follow as a pattern, model, or example. Prior to the giving of His only begotten Son, mankind was lost on how to live in a manner that would please the Lord. The children of Israel were given the law to set the example to follow in order to be holy and righteous but the children of Israel, as we see throughout scripture, forsook God and His law.
As we have seen in our recent lessons, “to live is Christ”. Christ set the example we should follow in so that we can become holy and righteous. Paul lived in fellowship with Christ and urged believers to live in a God-first manner; your thoughts and actions should be guided by the Spirit if you desire to live in the holiness and righteousness of God.
To this point, we will see Paul say, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them (vss.6-7).” You see, there are many in the world today who are the sons of disobedience; they abide in darkness (sin) and truly believe that there is no wrong in the manner that they live in. In fact, those of darkness, the sons of disobedience, preach and minister to others to live as they do.
As imitators of Christ, I ask you today: should we abide with those that are sons of disobedience? As I mentioned in my recent sermons – “When the Trumpet Sounds” – James wrote that those who are friends of the world (sin) are enmity God (Jas. 4:4). Paul writes, “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them (v.11).” Jesus, I want you to understand, went to the sinner, sat with them and rebuked them – pointed out their wrongdoing and offered correction
Do you understand why the sons of disobedience should be rebuked? They should be rebuked because they minister a doctrine of lies. You see, those who indulge in the worldly doctrine – the doctrine of sin – are blatantly objecting to Christ, the Lord, and their end is destruction. We, as God’s children – sincere believers – should not be in fellowship with those that live in blatant disobedience.
In his first epistle, John wrote, “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world (1 John 4:2-3).”
God gave His only begotten Son to the world so that we don’t abide in that darkness – the darkness of sin. God gave His only begotten Son to the world because He desires for nobody to be lost to the destruction of sin. As the Lord said through the prophet, Ezekiel, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live (Ezek. 33:11).” So, why should you desire to abide with those who have a spirit of antichrist (a spirit of sin/darkness) and will suffer the second death?
Walk in the spirit
On multiple occasions, Jesus pointed out that He did not come to destroy but to save. To the disciples, when they desired to speak against the Samaritans, Jesus said, “For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them (Luke 9:56).” When Jesus entered the home of Zacchaeus, He said, “Today salvation has come to this house … for the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:9-10).
Because the only begotten Son was given to us as the light of the world, should we ignore the light? To what would it benefit us to disregard the light of the world? Jesus said that one should walk while they have the light let darkness overtake they become lost (John 12:35). No, we should not ignore and disregard the true light of the world.
I want you to know that the light is still very present in the world today because Christ resides in the hearts of all of those who dwell in fellowship with Him. In the closing verse of this lesson, we see Paul encourage the believer to manifest the light of Christ in the world. Paul then urged, “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light (v.14).” This, Paul was saying to all of those who dwell in fellowship with sin.
As we have seen in recent weeks, the “blessings” of the world pale in comparison to the contentment that God gives. The blessings (riches) of the world are temporary whereas contentment is long lasting satisfaction to the soul. On this Christmas, as I do throughout the year, I encourage those who are lost in sin to see the light of Christ, step into the light, and then abide by the light; don’t be partakers of the darkness.