December 20, 2020

John 1:15

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

In a Bible full of wild lives, I’d say that John the Baptist is near the top. His birth was foretold. He was the second person to celebrate Jesus when he leaped in his mother’s womb upon his mother, Elizabeth, hearing her cousin, Mary’s greeting. He lived an “alternative lifestyle,” drinking neither wine nor beer, eating locusts and wild honey, wearing camel hair clothes. He preached radical charity and the forgiveness of sins, not by sacrifice but by repentance and baptism. He baptized Jesus! A king murdered him to save face as part of a family scandal.

In the end, it is pretty dark (metaphorically). Jesus was born in dark times when murder by the government was ordered on a whim; when the land so desperately fought for and promised was ruled by a faraway empire; when the people had been waiting for centuries for a Messiah and King. But John knew that the Light, the Savior, the King, the greater One was coming. He called out to those around him that his light was a reflection of the light of Jesus. He knew that the darkness could be defeated by the light of Jesus, even if he did not know how.

My world feels a little dark right now. It is just past dark when I have to start work. It is dark when I stop working. Almost everywhere I look, the world seems pretty broken and wrong and depressing. Even the feel-good stories are woven through with a thread of “not-enough” and “not-fair” and “it-shouldn’t-be-this-way.”

Like John the Baptist, I’m trying to keep my eyes open to the work God is doing in the dark. I can’t see it all. But, I can reflect the light I do see to shine towards Jesus, to illuminate what God is doing, to those around me. I can listen to hear what other believers are showing me Jesus is doing. I can look back on the times when I know light overcame the darkness. Like John, I can choose to believe that darkness will be fully defeated, in every facet, by the light of Jesus, even if I don’t know or see exactly how or exactly when.


— CJ Martin