Light Shining in the Darkness
Rev. Peter Heckert

+ Grace to you, and peace, from God our heavenly Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. + Amen.

The theme of light is dominant in all our readings today. The very first thing that God created was light. “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” God even separated the light from the darkness. In our reading from John’s gospel, Jesus calls Himself the light of the world. Not only did God create light at the beginning of creation, but He also sent the light of the world in His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.

Since you are now united with Christ and your heavenly Father through Holy Baptism and faith, you are also light in this world. In Matthew 5:14–16, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. …Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Because of Christ’s connection to you, St. Paul says in our third reading from Ephesians, “You were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”

The theme of light and darkness is everywhere in the Bible. Throughout the rich history of the Church, we have always recognized the significance of light and made use of it in every worship service. In the Early Church, after candidates were instructed in the faith, they left a very dark room where they renounced Satan and then entered a brightly lit room before they were baptized. Then, after their baptism, they received a lighted taper, almost like our acolytes use, to remind them that they were now light in the Lord. Therefore, we often give a baptismal candle to parents of children or to newly baptized adults. A simple candle signifies that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World and that He dwells within them, shining through their lives.

How secure do many other people feel in this dark world in which we live without light, hope, and peace? Outside these doors, there is immense darkness—a darkness that continues to try and strangle our world. This darkness blinds people from the truth and makes many feel hopeless and purposeless. Darkness always tries to choke out the light. That is why Paul clearly tells us, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. … When anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible” (Ephesians 5:11, 13).

How open are you to being exposed by the light of truth and God’s Word? Do you really want God to expose your life under His bright beam? How often are we like Adam, trying to hide from God in the Garden in the cool of the day? It’s not until God asked Adam, “Where are you?” that the man faced the light. None of us wants to have our sin exposed because it would mean we must change and repent. 

We would rather run into the dark than step into the light. But God knows your heart and mine. He knows our adulterous thoughts, our greedy intent, our covetous thoughts. He knows it all. But instead of letting us wallow in the darkness of our iniquity, this Lenten season, God shines His light anew on you, your heart, and your life. He exposes it all, not that we should run and hide from Him, but so that we would die to the darkness of our sin and graciously receive light, love, and forgiveness through Jesus’ wounds and words.

That is what Lent is all about. It is about us dying to our sin because Christ Jesus died for us and all our sin. Lent exposes our old life, bringing it to light in order to bury it in Christ’s tomb. It is buried there so that on Easter I may arise with Him again, joyfully in the light of His resurrection. Jesus Christ is the true light who gives light to every man. Although His life was extinguished on the cross amid total darkness, Jesus bore the full weight of this world’s sin and darkness in order to bring light to us and the world. Jesus was lonely and forsaken by God, and yet by such rejection, Jesus brought light and life to the world and crushed the darkness of sin, death, and hell forever. The cross always brightly reflects joy, love, and mercy because Jesus suffered there to bring light and love. Even though your sins are like scarlet, they are now as white as snow. From His cross shines a new beam! It pierces through your darkest and most depressive thoughts and fills you with peace and joy. The light of Jesus shines like the sun, and, like the moon, you reflect His light to others.

Have you ever visited with someone who came out of the gloom or shadow of darkness? Maybe they were grieving the death of a loved one, or perhaps they were badly broken through a relationship loss. Over time, you listened to them and prayed with them or for them. Over time, and after continued words of comfort, they regained their joy and light. Soon, they realized that the clouds of pain had passed, and the bright light of Christ’s cross beamed again with grace, forgiveness, love, and mercy. Dear friend, Christ’s light continues to shine through you and your words every day. Therefore, receive Christ’s light again today!

+ In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. + Amen.