What all of that darkness and light imagery points to is this: Jesus reveals God to believers and to the world in a unique, definitive way. Jesus is the spiritual light that helps us to see clearly who God is and who we are.
That’s the point of the birth story, really. That’s the theological beating heart of Christmas: God taking on the skin and bones, the grit and grime of life. Divinity assuming humanity for the sole purpose of being with us in our ordinariness.
Scary, unruly, wild and woolly John the Baptist, pointing with his finger, might make us squirm under the light of judgment. But his finger also points to the One who is coming—the One who brings mercy.
That’s what Matthew aims to do, in fact, is to tell in his gospel the story of God’s power and presence come among us in a new way, of God among us in the Messiah in a way that we did not, could not expect.