“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” John 1:26-27
Years ago, I met a woman. And although not a member of my parish, she was a Christian woman. It was January and she told me about her husband who had just died. I imagine she was telling their story to just about everyone she met. When a special love ends, even if it existed for only a short time, it is pretty normal to want to talk about it. She shared with me how his illness had begun shortly before Thanksgiving and had lasted all the way past Christmas.
His illness had been marked with long nights of discomfort and distress. She had cared for him at home, so as much of the rest of the world prepared for Christmas—did shopping, sent out cards, hung lights, went to parties—she administered pain medication and spent sleepless nights by his side. Then she told me something extraordinary: Her neighbors had kept their Christmas lights burning 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It was their way of letting her know, “We’re thinking of you. We want you to see our lights and be reminded that Jesus, the Light of the World, is with you, too.” The lady, her voice husky with emotion, added, “It might seem a little thing, but those neighbors showed me the light that can punch holes in the darkest nights of the soul.”
Before Jesus began His ministry, John the Baptist called people to repentance. He wanted everyone to see the darkness of their lives. As the forerunner of the Savior, John knew that when people see they are in darkness, they can appreciate the light even more. For John, the light the people needed to see was Jesus, God’s Son, our Savior, who came to be the Light of the world.
Although the centuries have come and gone and we have seen great advances in technology, the human condition has not changed. All of humanity is still steeped in darkness. We are still shrouded by hatred, prejudice, greed, theft, adultery, and a disregard for God and His grace. And we all still need the light of the Lord Jesus Christ. We need Him who spent His life for us, died for us and, rose for us. By faith in Him we will be called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light of forgiveness. There is no one else who can do that for us. Only Jesus. He is somebody you ought to know.
Excerpt from The Lutheran Hour sermon preached on December 14, 2003