An interesting phenomenon took place this past spring as the initial wave of COVID-19 cases spread throughout the United States: Many people across the country began putting their Christmas lights back up. According to news reports at the time, people said the lights were a sign of hope amid those early concerns, fears and stay-at-home orders related to the coronavirus.

Now some eight months later, reports show that cases of COVID-19 are once again increasing, even though there is a promise of a vaccine on the horizon. And similar to the springtime, lights are once again starting to show up in homes, on lawns and in other displays as we approach the Christmas season. Against the backdrop of the ongoing cares and concerns of the day, Christmas lights are indeed a sign of hope for our troubled world because they point us to the true light.

As we put up our own lights this Christmas or gaze in wonder and appreciation of other dazzling displays, let us be reminded that the Christmas story is a story of light coming into a dark, broken and sinful world in the person of Jesus Christ, and this light gives us true and lasting hope.

In Scripture, we see several references to light in the proclamation of Jesus’ birth. The priest Zechariah prophesied in Luke 1:79 that Jesus came “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” When angels announced Christ’s birth to the shepherds, “the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Luke 2:9), and a star led the wise men to the place of Jesus’ birth so they could worship Him (Matthew 2).

The word “light” is used to describe Jesus several times in the opening verses of the Gospel of John. John 1:9 describes Jesus’ birth as “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (ESV). Later in John’s Gospel, Jesus uses “light” to describe Himself and the type of life He came to bring when He declared “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

The light of life refers to the salvation that Jesus Christ offers to each and every person. Christ’s light exposes our sinfulness and points us to our need of Him. When we trust Christ as our Savior, the Apostle Peter explains that we are called “out of darkness and into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Jesus tells his followers in Matthew 5:14 that “You are the light of the world.” Have you ever thought of yourself in this way? This passage goes on to instruct us to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

So as we celebrate Christmas this year, let the lights we see remind us of the light who has come and the light we are called to be by pointing others to Him. Merry Christmas!

“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.” — John 1:14 (NKJV)