Sermon December 25, 2011: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light
- Presenter: Roberto Miranda
- Date: December 25, 2011
- Location: Congregación León de Judá, Boston MA
Let’s go to the word of the Lord. The Gospel according to Isaiah. The book of Isaiah is one of the most evangelistic books of the Bible. There are so many prophesies and so many descriptions of the nature, the ministry, the victory of the coming Christ in the world, his action, his work in history. We’re going to go to Isaiah chapter 9, we’re going to read from the first few verses. And you’ll note as I read that theme of darkness on the one hand and light and hope on the other. And that is the message of Christmas, the darkness is invaded by the light.
“…Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who are in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the gentiles, by the Way of the Sea, along the Jordan… ─ and here we see one the most important parts of this passage ─ … The people walking in darkness have seen a great light…”
You could say that that just sums up the entire content of Christmas, because instead of people you could put your own life, you could put your country, you could put different eras of human history. Humanity that was oppressed by darkness that when Jesus came there was an explosion of light. It says;
“… Those who were living in the land of shadow of death, a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation, and increased their joy. They rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat you have shattered the yoke that burns them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. For every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire…”
Notice all these expressions of victory, of light, of blessing, of new life. And the question is, what is it that could have caused such a radical change? What could have made space for the tremendous burst of hope that we read in these passages? What is the origin of the victory of light over darkness, of life over death? We see it in verse 6.
You know, one asks himself because a child, and of course there’s a sense of surprise almost and non intuitiveness. The origin of this majestic and grandiose change in human history is a child.
“…Because a child is born to us, a son is given to us and the government will be on his shoulders, and he will be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, ever lasting Father, prince of peace...”
There we see thing changing. We see this image of a child that is seen defenseless and weak but then changing in the text. But we see that his nature is going to be recognized as the following, these titles that are given to him: wonderful counselor, mighty God, ever lasting Father, prince of peace.
We see that this small child contains within himself the indestructible and majestic nature of the divinity of God over all. Isn’t that the mystery of the incarnation? The awesome, majestic and powerful God emptied himself of his infinity in a certain sense, and humbled himself to become contained not just by a child or a baby, but if you think about it, but a fetus, by an embryo. God chose to become that.
And incomprehensibly somehow these two natures, human and divine were both there in that same being. The smallness and the vulnerability of a child mixed with the greatness and majesty and power of the Lord God. It’s the mystery of Christmas, it’s the mystery we celebrate every time we say that Christ has come to the world.
“…The increase of his government and of peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever…”
So, what makes all this possible? Where does all this come from? Where does this child come from? This promise of hope and redemption and new life?
“…The zeal of the Lord almighty will accomplish this…”
And that’s what we see, that it’s the zeal of the Lord God for his creation, is what makes Christmas possible. It’s one of those passages that is just amazing the way it validates de messianic character of who Jesus is.
So, we as Christians talk about Jesus, the child being born, being fully God, being divine in nature and we see this in the New Testament but if you look all the way back here in the Old Testament, in the prophet Isaiah it’s there, it’s already there.
And how can it be that these things written hundreds of years before the birth of Christ can come true in such specific vivid detail and be fulfilled hundreds of years later, in ways that are historically provable, that it all happened just as it was prophesized hundreds of years before.
We see that the birth of this being, this promised one would relieve from the oppression that the people of Israel had suffered historically and politically through the years as well. So that’s the first level of this prophecy, being fulfilled. It’s talking to a political people, the people of Israel, saying that the oppression that you suffered under the boot of your oppressors will some day be relieved and you’ll live in freedom.
But then we see that this promise of freedom is not something that is just for the people of Israel but it’s something that is universal in scope that’s meant for all humanity of all times.
It’s a prophesy with a universal scope where anyone who will receive it and say yes to the promises here. And it’s a promise and a description of what we’re living as Christians the way Jesus has come to live in our lives as well.
And again, the predominating element, the theme that we see is that image of light. In verse 1 it talks about how the glory of the Lord will be revealed.
So we see that the coming of the Messiah is associated with glory, with light. And we see that that image of light is in terrible contrast with the condition of humanity before Jesus came, which was one of gloom, one of darkness and hopelessness.
It says that people walking in darkness have seen a great light and those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
And that’s not just the condition of the people of Israel before Jesus came, but of all humanity before Jesus comes to live in them, there’s that image of hopelessness, of despair, of darkness that weighs over them.
We see in Colossians, chapter 1.
“… For this reason since the day we heard about you we did not stop praying for you but asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding…”
The basic point is the book of Colossians there is a verse about how God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us in to the dominion of light.
And in First Peter, 1:9 says that God has taken us out of darkness and brought into his marvelous light.
And what we’re saying here is that humanity, apart from Christ is living under a terrible shroud and shadow of death. But we see when Jesus enters into the reality of a person, that that darkness is changed into a new atmosphere of light, and hope and freedom.
Without Christ a human being is in darkness, it doesn’t matter how sophisticated or intelligent or apparently successful they may be. Without Christ we are in the domain of darkness, of hopelessness, of violence and death.
You know, we are speaking here of to be even more concrete, of the dominion, the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of Satan and his demons. The default state of the cosmos, of the human condition is actually, darkness and demonic dominion. That is the difference between the rational understanding of the human condition, the humanistic understanding of the human condition and the Christian understanding of the human condition.
Rational man says, man is essentially good and that is his natural state, and then there are circumstances and situations, and oppressive governments and so on, that corrupt and deform that natural goodness. And also the natural understanding of humanity says that we are ever directed towards perfection and improvement and betterment through our reason and through our inventions and all the things that we do to make the world a better place.
But the Christian understanding says, no, it’s the very opposite. Without Christ, without God the natural state of the cosmos, or the world is darkness, demonic oppression, sin, hopelessness, death. And the reason for that is sin, sin entered the world, sin gave over the creation to a demonic power that deforms and twists history in order to promote death, darkness and oppression and all the different dark things that govern this world.
And truly, without Christ then our natural inclination, the proclivity of the world is towards deterioration, towards imperfection, increased imperfection rather than the opposite. But this is what the Gospel says that Christ comes into the world to change that natural condition, that natural tendency and to turn it around and to truly turn it towards life, towards light and redemption. And that is the message of Christmas, that’s the message here in this message in Isaiah.
In the book of First John 3:8 it says:
“… for this reason the Son of God was revealed, that he might destroy the works of the evil one…”
And it’s with that understanding that we can see what Isaiah meant when he said, those walking in the shadow of death, a light has dawned, because Christ has come to interrupt that dark state of affairs for people.
Luke 2, verse 8 to 11, what we’re going to see is the prophesy in the book of Isaiah being fulfilled quite literally in the lives of these shepherd. It says:
“…There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. an angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shown around them and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, he’s Christ the Lord and this will be a sign to you. you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests…”
And here we see how so many of the elements that were prophesied in the book of Isaiah come out in this Christmas scene. Shepherds outside on a Palestinian field on a hill and it’s dark, it’s the middle of the night. And these shepherds were socially on the margin of things, these were the men who lived outside, who were considered ritually impure for their constant dealing with animals and live outside, and these are not the kinds of people that according to a common thought, God would choose to appear to.
And here we see just like Isaiah was saying, these people living in darkness, in the shadow of darkness, of death, in gloom, these are the people who see a great light shine upon them.
And here we see a scene that is meant to convey being monotonous, being daily, kind of living trapped in ignorance and even hopelessness, in the middle of that, quite literally we see an explosion of light in the night sky.
And they hear a message that is said that it was going to be of great blessing for all humanity. And here again, what’s the origin of this blessing, of this light exploding in? it’s all about a child being born.
And in Isaiah the particular phrase is that a child is born to you and it says that same kind of language we see here about a child being born to you too. So in both passages we see this idea, the origin of this hope, of this life is this child and not only that this child has been born generically, but that this child has been born to you. there is a personal element to the birth of this mysterious, marvelous life, history changing child.
And there is an explosion of glory of the celestial beam; the angels are there, singing about the glory of this child that’s been born. The lives of those shepherds could never go back to normal after that. Same with us, that when Jesus breaks into our darkness, we can never go back. Things are never the same.
And the issue is, it’s not just about being religious, it’s about God himself being born in our hearts. The nature of this child is the wonderful counselor, mighty God, ever lasting Father.
When Jesus is born in our hearts it is to change everything. Never will we be the same. And something for us to remember today, is that even today, nowadays there are great sectors of humanity that are still living in the gloom, in the shadows of death.
And we see that here just as Meche was saying, in this country that at one time, historically knew the light of Christ revealed in it, that this nation is choosing to go backwards and to choose darkness and gloom and back under the oppression of the evil one rather than entering more into light.
And there are still entire nations, we need to remember, that are still submerged under the veil of this darkness and hopelessness. I think historically nowadays what we’re living, a country like North Korea, that I would ask us to pray for, that is living in the kind of darkness described by Isaiah here, where an oppressive government believes that they own the people, an entire nation of people that they own them, and can oppress them in spite of the great things that could be achieved.
A nation like this that has such greatness in it, has an amazing culture, such a beautiful intellectually gifted people, such scientific prowess, such potential and yet it is a nation oppressed by darkness, oppressed by death, literally, oppressed by all kinds of dark things, even thought it’s beautiful in some many other ways.
It’s that darkness into which Jesus wants to invade. God wants to invade these neighborhoods and bring new birth in the neighborhood around us. The light of God wants to shine on these streets around us, into the apartments in these neighborhoods, some of which you can touch the darkness, that’s where God wants to shine his light among us.
And that’s why it’s up to us, every day of our lives and especially in Christmas, to remember who we are, that we are sons and daughters of light, meant to carry that light into the darkness around us.
If Jesus is in your life then light in your life, then light needs to reign. If Christ has not been born in your heart, today is the day for that to happen, to say, Jesus, I want to invite you and let your light invade the darkness of me and fill me with your light.
I invite you to bow your heads with us, let’s take a moment to, number 1, if we know Christ already, to reaffirm our gratitude and our absolute yielding over to the life of Christ in us to the person of Christ, the light and the values of Kingdom of God.
If you know Christ already, I want you to thank him for his light in you, thank him for his transforming power, his transforming work in your life. He has taken you from darkness into light. You know, still there is some struggle, you’re still dealing perhaps with family situations and financial situations, with disease perhaps, there maybe still some darkness in there, but the fact is that God has taken away the definitive burden of darkness in your life. You are now being filled more and more with the light of Christ. You are on your way to become a glorious light-filled creation. And Christ has been born in your and now that has changed completely, the nature and the direction of your life.
I want to invite you, if you have received Christ yet, if he’s not a reality, if that babe which also God has not been birthed, has not been born in your life, then as we have said, you’re still in darkness and the dominion of darkness is over your live. But you know that can change in an instant, as Christ becomes a reality in your life, as you invite him to invade your life, as you invite him to become counselor, mighty God, strong and admirable in your. As you acknowledge his saving nature and you invite him to enter into your life and be born inside of you, then you also can become light-filled, you also can become somebody who is going towards absolute light, absolute life.
And I want to invite you to say yes to Jesus right now, in your heart, in your mind, there, deep inside yourself say, Lord, I open my life to you and I invite you to come in and to fill me with your life and with your light. Change my destiny, change my condition and turn things totally around and I will live for you and I will counseled by you. I will live in the power of your divinity and I know that my life will completely, my destiny will be completely changed. So, I invite you right now to receive Christ and to own his words, own his nature, own his mission, own the purpose for which he came into this world.
Would you invite him to that right now. If you haven’t done that yet, I invite you, perhaps you may feel that God is pushing you in that direction, God is calling you. You may want to raise your hand right now and invite Christ to become the master of your destiny, the owner of your soul, the changer of your condition. if you want to raise your hand of if you simply want to accept him there in your heart, but I invite you to do that completely. There are some hands that are raised up there and anybody else. If you want to receive Christ, this gentleman here to my left also is saying, I receive Christ, my Lord. Up there in the balcony, praise the Lord.
I bless your life, I declare the ownership of Christ in your life. Is there anybody else who wants to do that right now? I invite you to do it. we bless you, my brother. I see your hand as well. Praise God.
Let me just pray for you. Stand right where you are. Just stand for a moment, I’m not even going to invite you to come forward here. If you have raised your hand, stand up for a moment. I bless you in the name of Jesus Christ.
Let’s just stand with all of them. Father, we thank you. we bless you, Father. We thank you because you have come to redeem us and we ourselves our hands. May the life of Christ, Lord, reign in our lives. May his life changing, history changing, nature changing mission becomes a reality in my life and in the life of my brothers and sisters.
We praise you, Lord. We thank you, Father. We thank you. we thank you, Lord.
And at the risk of changing things, and incurring the wrath of my brothers and sisters up here, I’m going to ask us to sing that song. Even just one stanza. I don’t know if we have it in English, so you’ll forgive me, but it says, you left your throne and your crown for me. When you came to Bethlehem to be born, and then it says, come to my heart.
I want us to confess this. It says, you left your throne and your crown for me, when you came to Bethlehem to be born, and to you were not given to be able to enter into the house where you were seeking to be housed when you were born, but they made you to be born in a stable. And it says, come into my heart, oh Christ, because in my heart there is a place for you. Come into my heart, oh Christ, come because in my heart there is a place for you.
|Sermon delivered by Roberto Miranda December 25, 2011 at Congregación León de Judá||Listen|||||View(100K)|||||View(400K)|
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