“But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time He brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time He has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation; You have increased its joy; they rejoice before You as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, You have broken as on the day of Midian.”(Isaiah 9:1-4 ESV)
I love this image—it’s the picture of a countryside in the darkness just before dawn. Then, suddenly, the first ray of light breaks over the horizon. The sun is coming! The whole country is alive with light.
But you can’t look at the sun for long, can you? And so Isaiah stops describing the light and starts describing its effects on the country, on the people. They are growing in number. They are happy and celebrating. Their burdens have been lifted.
Of course, Isaiah is not describing any ordinary sunrise. This is the coming of the Son of God, Jesus, the Light of the world. And it was dark indeed for Galilee in the days before He came. What light did they have, so far away from the temple in Jerusalem? And they were surrounded by Gentiles who worshipped other gods. Even their own countrymen didn’t expect much from them.
But God did. God sent His Son to Nazareth where He grew up—the Light of the world come all unexpectedly into a little village not far from the Sea of Galilee. And He made it glorious by His presence.
Jesus has come into our dark lives too, hasn’t He? And where He goes, He brings light. That can be painful at times, when our eyes are not used to it and our sins show up in painfully obvious ways. But it is so worth it. Like the people of Galilee, we rejoice. When Jesus is with us, it is like harvest time when God gathers us in, the people He planted for Himself. It is like the day after a dreadful battle, when Jesus has destroyed all the enemies that frightened us, and nothing is left but to divide the spoil.
Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has become the light that makes our lives worth living. We are His, and He is ours. Now that we have His light, let us walk in the light in ways that honor and love Him. Why? Because He has most certainly loved us first.
WE PRAY: Dear Father, thank You for sending Your Son as a Light into our world. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on January 17, 2023
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. Do you prefer dawn or sunset? Why?
2. Tell about a time of darkness in your life when Jesus came to you.
3. How does Jesus’ light make your life different from what it would be otherwise?