In Him was life and the life was the light of men. (John 1:4 NKJV)
Ever since sin entered into the human equation, mankind has been without true life. We have physical life and a soulish life of the mind, emotions, and will, but not a true spiritual life. Some part of mankind, some part in every human being since, has been missing.
And in life, we are very much like people who have entered into a senior course of study, without having first learned the basic prerequisites for the subject. We grasp that we have something to do, some great role to fulfill, but there always seems to be missing some fundamental element in our souls that will enable us to fulfill this great role, or even to understand it fully.
God gave us a witness to the true light in Jesus Christ. Humanity did not need some trinket that would supposedly ward off evil spirits, because the problem was not with the evil “out there” in the world, but with the evil “in here” in our hearts. Humanity needed not just an extra blessing, not just a more interesting food to eat, or a more comfortable life to lead, or better and richer forms of entertainment. We needed more the animals would need because we are more than they are.
Mathew Henry wrote:
Life in man is something greater and nobler than it is in other creatures; it is rational, and not merely animal. When man became a living soul, his life was light, his capacities such as distinguished him from, and dignified him above, the beasts that perish. The spirit of a man is the candle of the Lord, and it was the eternal Word that lighted this candle.
The coming of Christ into the world is the celebration of life coming into humanity – true spiritual life from above, the missing part of our hearts and souls that we cannot function entirely without. Christ redeems us from sin and regenerates the human spirit that has so long lay like a corpse in the human soul. He becomes a teacher but first He must resurrect His disciple, for until this work of regeneration is done, we will not be able to learn from Him.
Christ becomes our light through our faith in Him. Trust is not like a hand-grip on rope let down from heaven, rather it is like a door through which we enter into a new life, like a point of immigration by which we pass into a new land, a new spiritual life. “The old has passed away, behold, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Isaiah lamented that the “law and the testimony” have “no light in them” (Isa. 8:20). The coldness of a command cannot change and bring to life the heart – it can merely teach patterns of behavior and fear of guilt and punishment if not done properly. But Christ came to give true spiritual life, as he prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2).
The witness of Christmas is the life of God in Christ Jesus that gives true life to those who believe. His life is more than just a new start in life, it is more than just a continued existence after death, it is more than just illumination of the soul, a new way of thinking, a new ethos, a new direction, and a new purpose. It includes all of these things, but it is not these alone, or even these together.
Christ’s life is His presence within us. Paul called Him, “Christ, who is our life” (Col. 3:4). “He who has the Son has life” (1 John 5:12). It is a spiritual substance, the missing core of human existence, the very essence of the eternal nature of God, the possession of which transforms us into eternal living creations. It is often called “eternal life” (John 3:16; John 10:28; Romans 6:23; 1 John 5:11) for true life must be eternal in nature. The true life of God does not end, and cannot end, for it is the source and sustenance of all other life.
Up until we have received Christ, all of the information we have in life comes through our senses. But when we have trusted in Him then we have a new experience of His life becoming our light and our life. Now we receive an inner witness, an inner experience by the Spirit of God.