The Light Shines in the Darkness
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 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.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-14)
The Evangelist John opens his gospel by pointing us back to the beginning (of Genesis) where in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth by speaking: “And God said”. The Evangelist reveals that God’s Word is a person – the Son – eternally begotten of God the Father. (The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God in three distinct persons, who created heaven and earth.)
In his Prologue, the Evangelist lays two foundations for his gospel: (1) to clearly establish Christ’s divinity as God’s Word made flesh; and (2) to focus the reader on the power of the Word. This power was exercised by Christ throughout His earthly ministry when, for example, he raised Lazarus from the dead by the simple command: “Lazarus, come out” (John 11:43). But the power of the Word is also active in the written Word, as the Evangelist tells us near the end of his gospel: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31)
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
That the Church has endured and grown to the size it is today, having led billions of souls to Christ over the course of her history, is a miracle and testimony to the power of the Word. For Christ and His witnesses do not preach to a willing or even a neutral world. Our world is shrouded in darkness. It is spiritual darkness that resides naturally and universally in the human heart, separated from God and captive to the powers of sin, death and the devil.
Christ enters into the world as Light (i.e., the Word) which shines (i.e., speaks or preaches) in the darkness. Using the analogy of natural light, it is as if someone flipped on a light in a dark room, but the room stays dark. Or, it is like a blind man sitting in a dark room: someone flips on a light, but the blind man remains in darkness despite the fact that the light is shining brightly on him.
The Evangelist tells us concerning the Light that the “darkness has not overcome it.” Other translations have “darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:5 NASB). Both translations convey the opposition that the Word faces from the world. On the one hand, the darkened heart does not comprehend the Word. We do not comprehend because in our natural blindness we love “the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” (John 12:43) On the other hand, the world, which would like to silence the Word, cannot overcome or extinguish Him because He is divine. Jesus said: “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” (John 10:18)
“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11-13)
It appears that God is in something of a pickle. How can He illumine darkened hearts with life, which neither comprehend Him nor wish to hear from Him? Claims of a Trinity, Incarnation, a crucified Messiah, and an empty tomb all register as fantasies and foolish fables to hearts darkened by sin and corrupted human reason. Reason cannot comprehend or accept any of it. Therefore, the Gospel cannot save us by a decision or assent according to reason, but only by faith which is above reason. For in no other way can the light of the Word illumine a darkened human heart.
The Evangelist tells us that the difference between those of Christ’s own people who did receive Him and those who did not receive Him was a matter of faith in His name (Jesus means “Yahweh saves”). Neither group received Him according to reason. If reason was a factor, the highly educated among the Scribes and Pharisees would have flocked to Christ. No, it is faith alone that gives birth to a child of God.
Let Christ instruct us: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24) Faith in the Gospel destroys the darkness of human reason and illumines the heart with God’s grace, forgiveness, peace and mercy. Faith converts an enemy to a child of God. Faith enables us to receive the mysteries of the Trinity, Incarnation, Christ’s atonement for our sins and His resurrection. Faith comes from hearing the Word (Rom 10:17). Therefore, let us continue to hear, digest and retain the powerful Word, by which He illumines our hearts with grace upon grace. Amen.
Glory to God on high!
And on earth peace, good will toward men.
We praise You, we bless You, we worship You!
We glorify You, we give thanks to You for Your great glory!
O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty!
O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ!
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father!
You take away the sins of the world! Have mercy on us!
You take away the sins of the world! Receive our prayer!
You sit at the right hand of God the Father! Have mercy on us!
For You only are holy! You only are the Lord!
You only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost,
Are most high in the glory of God the Father! Amen.