“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)
Another title in John for Jesus is the light. Jesus ascribed this to himself (John 8:12; 9:5), and John gives him the same title in his opening verses. Let’s take some time today to think about that title.
As John did in verse 1, here again he causes us to think about creation in Genesis 1, and the one who existed before creation. The very first item mentioned as being created is light. “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep… And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Genesis 1:2–3). Notice the parallel between Genesis 1 and John 1. Both contrast light and darkness. Just as visible light overcame darkness, so has the light of the world Jesus.
Ask yourself this question: why did God create the world? One way to answer that question would be this: God created the world as a way of communicating or revealing himself to those whom he would create. God’s creation is part of God’s self-communication. By the same token, Jesus is the ultimate expression of God’s self-communication. Jesus is God’s best and most accurate revealing of himself to us.
John uses two words to describe the light. First, the light shines. It doesn’t say this in the past tense but in the present tense. The light shines. Its very essence is to shine. The light is shining right now, and it will continually shine, forever. Even in the darkness of this world, the light of the world, Jesus, will shine.
Second, the darkness has not overcome the light. That is such an obvious picture of light and darkness, but it still is astounding to think about it in a spiritual sense. Wherever there is light, the darkness flees. Light dispels and gets rid of darkness. Darkness does not overcome light.
The tense of the word overcome refers to a single occasion. John could be thinking about the initial act of creation, when the creation of light overcame the darkness of the world. He is more likely thinking about the single, decisive act at Calvary. “There the light and the darkness came into bitter and decisive conflict and the darkness could not prevail (Leon Morris).”
Light exists for us, spiritual light through Jesus, but we have to follow it. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12). Follow the light of God in Jesus this Christmas, and you will never be in darkness again.