John 1.4-5 — Light and Life

John 1.4-5: “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

Back in the olden days of the Old Testament there was a belief that if someone obeyed God they would be blessed with long life. Jewish teachers through the ages developed that, though, into the idea that the reward for obedience to God was eternal life—quite a long jump off the other thought. John, however, is declaring that this life has always been available through God’s Word, which here he identifies with Jesus. Jesus—Eternal Life Himself, as if life was a Person, not a thing.

On top of that, Jewish teachers most often associated “light” with God’s Law—the agreement, or covenant between God and people. John is making an analogy that Jesus is the new agreement—the New Covenant—between God and people. Now, instead of the law and a bunch of rules, Jesus’ hands would stretch across the divide: one hand holding God the Father’s, and one hand holding humankind, offering a connecting relationship, light, and life.

John is speaking volumes about who Jesus is. He is speaking boldly that Jesus is God; He is God that we can see; He created the infinite detail of everything that is, not as an agent like an angel, but as the Big Boss in charge of it all; He doesn’t just give life, He IS life, and He in his person is the new promise and contract joining God with people and people with God. Now that’s quite a claim.

 Verse 5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” Wow—it just continues. “Shines” is in the present tense, used unexpectedly in this context, but meaning that The Light has shone continuously and without interruption from the beginning until now, and is still shining. It’s a ceaseless, eternal Light. It never had a beginning. The Light of the Word was already shining at creation, and continued through all the darkness of human history, and is now still shining in the One called “The Word.”

So let’s talk about light a little bit. Light shines in the darkness—it’s a reality in the physical, philosophical, and theological world. Darkness cannot stop it. Whenever light and dark meet, light wins. The suggestion here is that this light is eternal and unconquerable. The light shines and it has always shone, and darkness gives way to it. But since the theme of our text is Jesus, then we are being both guaranteed and reassured that the “life was the light of men,” and it has been such since eternity past and will continue being such into eternity future. And this light (and life) will win out over darkness, every time. So saying, Jesus, and purity, and holiness, and righteousness, and truth will win out. We can bet our lives on it. Jesus did.

Let me know what you think. Comment, or write on the Q&A Forum and talk to me.

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