the LIFE & LIGHT
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5
These words have special impact for me. For a long time, darkness was a regular companion of mine. My story is one, if made into a fiction book, that would probably be reviewed as “unrealistic.” Trial upon trial. Honestly, I used to hate my story. I used to envy other people because they had somehow avoided difficulty. I used to pridefully think that somewhere along the line God had messed up with me.
But He didn’t mess up. In His time, He pierced the dark night of my soul. He called me out of darkness and into His marvelous light. He gave me the gift of adoption through Jesus Christ...the life and light of men. So when I read about how Jesus shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t overcome, it is personal. It stirs my soul. It makes me remember His goodness, mercy and grace.
LIFE, LIGHT > DARK
The more I read the Bible, the more I understand how fallible my thinking was. Just because people have ease doesn’t mean they don’t struggle with darkness. Romans clearly lays out that we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (3:23). We all started off on equal footing--equal darkness.
Without Christ, this is bad news! But, the Word Eternal--life and light--gives us hope! Even though it can be hard to admit to the darkness of each human heart, when contrasted with God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, hope abounds.
Consider how, in just these two verses, we learn some key things about Jesus and some key things about people.
*In Him was life--He is the very essence of life
*His life is light for people
*He shines in darkness
*He wins against darkness
*He isn’t understood by darkness
*Light for mankind comes from outside us--from Christ
*Christ’s light shines INTO our darkness
*Our darkness can’t understand the light
The literal translation of verse 5, as noted by Warren Wiersbe in his commentary on John, says this: “And the light keeps on shining in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it or understood it.”
The Light doesn’t quit. The Light doesn’t give up or run out. The Light doesn’t lose. But it’s also not understood by darkness.
The phrase “understood it” is important to note. Dark hearts can’t understand the light. We were born with the inability to understand the light. We were born with the desire to run and hide from it, imagining the darkness preferable to the light. People love either light or dark and whatever they love controls their words and actions.
“You would think that blind sinners would welcome the light, but such is not always the case,” said Wiersbe. “The coming of the true light brought conflict as the powers of darkness opposed it.” (285)
I believe this should be a sobering reminder as we live out our lives as believers. Not sobering as in, don’t have hope, but sobering as in, be watchful! It’s important to be conscientious about what we’re loving in various aspects of life: darkness or light? Just like Peter in the waves, it is a battle to keep our eyes focused on the Light. Let’s fight this good fight, and encourage each other to do the same!
“Against this background, Jesus as the ‘light’ brings to this dark world true knowledge, moral purity, and the light that shows the very presence of God,” states the ESV Study Bible notes on John 1:4-5.
That light sounds wonderful! That life sounds wonderful! The Light and Life are greater than the dark!
Even though humanity all starts off in the dark, when we belong to Jesus, He brings the life and light. He IS the light and life, and He calls us out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9). As we are continually sanctified, the light pierces in victorious ways!
This is a good reminder to me that on my own, I’m full of darkness. Without being called out of darkness and into the Light, I do not have life. It’s all connected. Apart from Christ, I die a death of darkness. But, in Christ, there is life and victory against the dark!
May we desire to live in the light--not of our own making, but of Christ! May we delight to put our light on display--not hiding, but sharing with a dark world.
More in this series:
the WORD Eternal
the Un-Neutral Heart
Unknown & Unreceived
Receive & Believe
From His Fullness
A Critical Declaration
- English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible
- Guzik, David. Study Guide for John 1. (Blue Letter Bible)
- The New Bible Commentary: Revised. Edited by Guthrie, Motyer, Stibbs, Wiseman.
- Wiersbe, Warren. Commentary on John.