O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,
The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters,
The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers,
Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees,
Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark
And that’s where the messianic baby comes in.
There’s a verse in the Gospel of John that basically changes everything about everything. It goes like this: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). Read it again. It’s true. This is what it meant when Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world. And as an old pastor of mine used to say, whenever light and darkness have a showdown, light always wins. Every time. No contest. You can see that, whenever you walk into a room and turn on the light-switch. The darkness flees. The fight is over. No matter how much hype there had been before the fight, no matter what kind of promoter was backing Dark’s corner, he was always doomed to failure. The degree of how much light we can see after such a “fight” might differ, but the absence of darkness is absolute. If you grew up on old-school energy efficient lightbulbs, you’ll know what I mean, where you seem to get “submarine lighting” for several minutes before the darkness really gets the message. Dimness may seem like the cousin of darkness, but it’s really the cousin of Light. However, dimness might occasionally trick you into thinking the battle was a lot closer than it really was. Even in dimness, Light has still conquered. But it is in this dimness that we spend most of our lives, in the hinterland between dark and light. We see flashes and glimmers of Light’s victory, but we also see corners and shadows of darkness. But when Christmas happened, this victory really did happen. That’s what John meant. Something changed about this world when the Light came to it. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. You see, Dark couldn’t understand Light. It didn’t speak the same language. It had no idea what was going on. It tried to stop it. It tried to intercept it. It couldn’t stop it. It couldn’t intercept it. And it capitulated. And Light won. Because Jesus is the Light. And the Light always wins. Even when that Light was covered by the shadow of the cross, even when that Light was hidden away in a tomb, even when it seemed to lose, it didn’t lose. It wasn’t overcome. It came back again. Because Light wins.
But this is not how it seems. A cursory glance of a newspaper will tell us this. Our own hearts tell us this. And that’s why T.S. Eliot’s famous lines remain harrowing. Dark things do still happen. Rooms are still dark when the switch is off. But whatever power Dark seems to have in the great story of history, it only gets it temporarily. No dark room is ever dark on its own terms – it waits for the inevitable moment when the switch comes on. And Light wins the fight. Again. Always. And when my young daughter cries out in tears at night, when she’s terrified of the Dark, when she’s terrified because it’s not like the day, when you can’t see things as you’re supposed to see them, I know I can tell her that Jesus is the Light that overcame the Dark. And that one day there simply won’t be such a thing as “night-time” anymore (Rev. 22:5).
Even as we wait in expectation for the Light to shine in all its fullness, we know this day is coming, that Light will defeat night, that it has defeated night, all because of what started in Bethlehem on that night, when everything changed forever.