The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2 (CEB)
Everyone at one time or another has had the experience of being in a darkened room, either awake or asleep when suddenly, bright lights are turned on. This disruption to the status quo is shocking. Although some welcome the light, many seek refuge from it, perhaps pulling the covers back over their head. So great was the disruption that everything changed on that night in Bethlehem. The brightest light that night was not in the sky but in the manger.
The Christmas season is filled with images of great sentimentality; we find highly sanitized nativity scenes where warm diffused light illuminates the manger, and we see the baby Jesus sleeping silently. According to a famous carol, he did not even cry, so we can assume that he never got hungry or suffered from diaper rash. If this is our only impression of the significance of Christ’s Advent, we have missed it.
Evoking much derision from his critics, President George W. Bush, on the day before the election in November 2000 said, “They misunderestimated me.” The spellchecker did not like the last sentence, but exactly who gets to decide when a new word is created? Commentators have surmised that “misunderestimate” is the conjunction of misunderstand and underestimate. In some ways, I think that is the perfect description of what happened that night when God became man.
Jesus, the light of the world: “He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. John 1:11 (NLT). They were dismissive: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” It is incredible to think that the Son of God could be: “…despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.” Isaiah 53:3 (NLT)
We must ask, how could people down through the ages have failed to recognize or even reject the Light? In some cases, it is because they have been blinded: Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT). All is not lost however because God specializes in opening the eyes of the blind. In fact, Jesus made it his mission:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” Luke 4:18–19 (NLT)
Even though Jesus did not receive the reception that he deserved, he fulfilled his purpose and his plan. Among the few that recognized him for who he was, Simeon, on the day Jesus was dedicated at the Temple said this: I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. Luke 2:30–31 (NLT). Jesus did not just come to bring salvation; He is our salvation. He did not become our Savior by dying on the cross, He was born our Savior, he has always been our Savior and then he demonstrated it by offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins.
The Advent of our Savior was the greatest disruptive event in history. Even the calendar used by most of the world reflects this truth. When Jesus came everything changed. Mankind has tried to ignore the light, they have tried to hide the light and even destroy the light, but the light is still shining in the darkness. It is a truth so incredible, so fantastic, that our minds can barely accept it: The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (CEB)
I like the word, “Misunderestimate.” The combination of being misunderstood and underestimated may be right where God’s people are today. It should be our desire to be so closely identified with Jesus and so dependent upon the Holy Spirit, that as with the early disciples, “people will recognize that we have been with Jesus.” …because as he is, so also are we in this world. 1 John 4:17 (CSB)
Our objective is to “let our light shine.” Light that shines brightly in the darkness is disruptive. Many will run and hide, yet for others it will provide the illumination that is necessary for them to find the path to the Savior. When Jesus spoke again to the people, 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 (NIV).
Be a disruption to the darkness!