"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." Isaiah 9:2
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulders and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
The prophet Isaiah has written in the 9th Chapter, 2nd and 6th verses, what he saw happening in the time of the birth of the Savior. There he saw the people walking in spiritual darkness, and the Saviour has afterward said that he who walks in darkness knows not where he goes. That people which prophet Isaiah saw walking in darkness were first, the Jewish people or the nation of Israel who had an outward knowledge of that coming Saviour, but this outward knowledge was only in the brain or skull. They certainly had the Word of God, but this Word of God was only in their memory; no Light or understanding came from it. In their hearts was such an expounder of the Scriptures who expounded all spiritual matters backwards. They understood entirely wrongly what the prophets had written of the coming Saviour. They thought the Saviour would come as a natural king, who would through warfare get all the pagans in subjection, and rule the world in a visible way. They who read the word of God had such a great spiritual darkness that the devil turned all the letters in reverse. The Jews held themselves to be Christians because of that worship of God which Moses had prepared for them. They had taken the outward signs of grace upon their bodies from circumcision, and ate the lamb of the Passover, but this outward worship of God did not help them since their hearts were unchanged and their everyday life was exactly a paganish life. Greed was their bosom sin, and adultery, but not so much is written of their drunkenness. Now when God's own people were in such great spiritual darkness, although they had the Bible, churches, priests and the outward worship of God, then it can be surmised that the pagans were in still greater spiritual darkness; in the pagan's kingdom there was very black darkness before the Saviour came into the world. Prophet Isaiah saw this spiritual darkness 700 years before, through that spiritual enlightenment which he had received from the Lord. But at the Saviour's time even all the priests were in spiritual darkness. That teacher, who sees the people walking in darkness, is not entirely blind; he has already received some enlightenment from on high. But in the Saviour's time all the priests were so blind that they did not see that the people walked in darkness. But if the priests were then so blind that they did not see that the people walked in darkness, although they had the knowledge of the Bible, certainly even now some priests are so blind that they do not see at all that the people walk in darkness. And some priests are so blind that they see light to be darkness and darkness to be light, as the Lord laments through the same prophet Isaiah, "Woe unto them...that put darkness for light, and light for darkness.." But that teacher, who sees the people traveling in darkness, can also see that the people who thus travel in darkness see a great light. This the prophet Isaiah saw in spirit, and he saw also from where the light came to the people who walked in darkness. That light came into the world through the Saviour, for the prophet speaks, in this place of the Saviour's birth when he says, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulders". So Prophet Isaiah saw that the light came into the world through the Saviour, and the Saviour Himself has said afterward that light came into the world, but the people loved darkness more than light, because their deeds are evil.
Therefore, when the Saviour was born the whole world was in darkness. All the people were sleeping the sleep of sin; there were no others watching except some shepherds who tended their flocks, but it is not written what flock it was which they watched, whether it was a swine herd or a goat herd, or if it was a herd of sheep, but nevertheless they were watching. It is unknown how many shepherds are now watching and tending their flocks; when all others are asleep, the shepherds also want to become sleepy, especially those shepherds, who have a wolf's coat on, in which they are quite warm enough to sleep comfortably. Those shepherds, who were watching when all other people were asleep, were first able to see that great light of which Prophet Isaiah speaks, "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light". But they who lie down see nothing, nor do the blind see anything. Whosoever wants to see that great light must watch as the shepherds in Bethlehem, and whosoever's eyes are opened can see that great light; but the blind do not see the light, nor does a sleeping person see the light. But we know that the magpies and owls hate the light, so also do the earthlings and gnomes; they do not dare to travel on the earth in the time of light. So also the whores and thieves, who do the works of darkness, hate the light. And when the watchers on Zion's wall hope for the day break, then the whores and thieves await that the time of darkness would soon come. But some again are so accustomed to walking in darkness that they do not want to see light; they think that spiritual darkness is light. But when such magpies and owls can see light in the time of darkness, they think that this spiritual light is the devil's torchlight. Some flee quickly from the edge of the light as the large fish, but the fly is so foolish that he files directly into the flame of the candle and there burns its wings, then it lies on its back and groans. So it happened to Eve — when she wanted to become as wise as God, she became ignorant. And the wise of the world who want to comprehend with the intellect what light is, are just like the fly; they fly right into the flame of the candle, and there burn their wings and then lie on their backs and squirm.
Since now this spiritual light came into the world, as prophet Isaiah saw in the spirit that a child was born, and a son to us was given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder, who is a Wonderful Counselor and the Prince of Peace, then they, who do not hate the light, should pray to that wonderful Counselor, that He would protect us from that spiritual darkness in which the people walked until that time that light came into the world, for they who walk in darkness do not see at all where they are traveling. And those shepherds, who first could see that great light, can certainly proclaim to all what they have seen. We do not have such great light; that light which we have is probably like the smouldering candlewick, but the Lord has said, "..smoking flax shall He not quench.." And Lord Jesus, do not quench the smouldering candlewick before the day dawns and the day star arises. Then that great light can be seen, which all the poor watchers on Zion's wall await and all solitary travelers hope for, to come through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has called us all into the wonderful light.
The Gospel: John 1:1-14
In accordance with what has been said in the forward, we must at this moment consider: How, through the Saviour's birth and coming into the world, the people which sat in darkness saw a great light. The First Consideration: Who hate this light? The Second Consideration: Who thank God for this light?
May God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has brought this light into the world through His only Son, give His grace that all sleeping ones would awaken to see the light of the world, that the eyes of all the blind would be opened to see light of the world, that all who are in darkness would see this light and that they, who see this light, would always remain in the light, until that time that eternal light comes.
The First Consideration: Who and what kind of living beings are they who hate the light? When the prophet Isaiah says, "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light" and near it says these remarkable words, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given", then everyone can hear that he speaks of the Saviour's birth. Now everyone who walks in darkness should rejoice over the light, and pray to the Father of Light that he could always walk in the light. But the Saviour Himself has said that the people loved the darkness more than light, for their deeds are evil. Therefore what kind of living beings are they who love the darkness? They are the owls, magpies and forest devils who cannot bear to see the light. The owls are night birds, which fly in the air in the time of darkness and hunt for mice, which they swallow whole with skin and entrails. They have a large throat as Daniel says: "Their throat is an open sepulchre, they flatter with their tongue." The owls have large eyes in their skull with which they look backward when they twist their necks and peer. The owl does not look forward, but peers backward. Such kind are the night birds who love the darkness and hate the light. They also have a terrible voice, like the magpie's voice. The magpies laugh in the darkness and grimace against the light. The magpies cannot bear to see the light, but they flee away from the light into the darkness and live in their dens. So also do the forest devils, who eat flowing devil's dung and curse terribly when some person comes with light into that cave where the forest devils live. The forest devils are also quite the whores, and for that reason hate the light. Namely, we know that whores and thieves cannot stand it that some person comes upon them with a candle when they are whoring and stealing, for adultery and stealing take place in the darkness, and they do not dare to do those deeds of darkness in the light. If a whore is discovered right in her devilishness, then she covers her eyes and imagines that people do not see her. The thieves are in a great hurry if some person comes with a candle upon them when they are stealing. Some thieves paint their faces black so that no one would recognize them if they would be seen, but everyone who sees them guesses that they are thieves, for the thieves go around in the darkness; they do not dare to steal as long as there is light. Some thieves also hate dogs who bark, for they surmise that the master hears when the dogs bark. For that reason it is not good for the thieves to steal as long as the faithful house dog barks. Because of that barking the people of the house awaken and begin to watch their own possessions. Some thieves are so cunning that they entice the house dog with a piece of meat which they carry under their arm, but a faithful house dog does not allow himself to be enticed with a piece of meat, but he barks twice as zealously when the thieves give him a piece of meat.
But they are not only the owls, magpies and forest devils who love the darkness more than light, but also gnomes and earthlings go about in the darkness and hate the light, for their deeds are evil. The gnomes live under the earth and dig the earth with their fingernails, and they imagine they will find a treasure trove there. But when their possessions are beheld in the light, then it can be seen that their treasure trove is nothing more than a charcoal pit. It is said also that the gnomes have children, but when the children are swaddled, they forbid the mark of a cross to be placed on them, for they are the enemies of the cross of Jesus, and therefore the gnomes cannot bear to have the cross placed on the breast. But the gnomes also want to entice living people to them, and it is very dangerous if a living person, who travels in the light, listens to the wildness of the gnomes and follows the daughters of the gnomes under the ground, for the gnomes will no longer allow a person to come back up into the light when they have once consented to it. But if a person does not taste of that food at all, which the daughters of the gnomes offer, then they must allow that person to come out in three days time. The earthlings also hate the light. They go about in the time of darkness scaring living people and haunting them, but they do not come before the eyes of all, but ha who eats well of devil's dung can see them. The earthlings do not dare to come out in the daytime, nor can such a person who goes about in the light see the earthlings very often, for the earthlings do not dare to come near such a person who watches with a candle, but as soon as the candle goes out, the earthlings begin to scratch the walls. Do not put out your candle, you night watchers, but put the candle in a candle stick that it will light the whole house, for the earthlings do not dare to come into that house where the candle is burning. Such are those living beings who love the darkness and hate the light, namely the owls, magpies and forest devils, and also the gnomes and earthlings, of whom the Saviour has said that they love the darkness more than light because their deeds are evil.
The Second Consideration: Let us observe secondly what living beings they are who want to see the light. Prophet Isaiah has spoken of that people who walked in darkness and saw a great light when the Saviour was born into the world. This people has certainly walked in darkness and has not known in what direction they were going, but the same people which thus walked in darkness certainly could see that great light when the Saviour was born. But no others could see this great light except those few souls who were watching, for a sleeping person knows nothing of the light although the sun is shining. What does he see, who is sleeping? He sees nothing more than dreams. But in the night time not many people are watching. Only those shepherds, of whom it is mentioned in the gospel that they were watching and tending their flocks, could first see that great light when the brightness of the Lord shone around about them, and the angels from heaven came to tell them that the Saviour was born. Assuredly Joseph and Mary were also watching, and those few souls who awaited the redemption of Israel, for example the old Simeon and Anna the prophetess. But all others were sleeping; all the priests were sleeping, all the peasants were sleeping, the whole world was in darkness. But those few souls who were watching could see that great light. But they were afraid at first when the brightness of the Lord shone round about them. However the shepherds went quickly to Bethlehem to see the light of the world, and they proclaimed to all what they had seen and heard of that Child. But Mary preserved those words, pondering them in her heart. Others probably kept the reminiscing of the shepherds as delerium, and so it probably happens even now, that some keep the tidings of the shepherds as foolishness and prattle. They who are sleeping do not hear what the shepherds speak. And without a doubt those few souls who are watching go to Bethlehem to see that heavenly Visitor, who lies in a manger among the animals, for the animals recognize their Creator better than the sorrowless and hardened people, as the Lord says through the prophet Isaiah, "The ox knoweth his owner.." but Israel doth not know the Lord, saith the Lord. Know now your Creator, you ox and ass, and you chickadees and swallows and nightingales. Behold how beautiful and comely this Child is, who came as a visitor to us, and taught us that we must become child-like before we can enter into the kingdom of heaven. Know your Creator, you crows and ravens. But the crows and ravens certainly do not know Him, nor do the owls and magpies, but only the chickadees and swallows and nightingales, who twitter thanks to the Creator for that light which came into the world. Amen.