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.
John 1:4-5 (NIV)
John tells us in no uncertain terms that Jesus was and is the Creator God who made the universe from nothing. He and the Father (and the Holy Spirit, for that matter) are one. They appear in separate persons, but they are so united in their every thought, word, deed, and substance that they are ONE. When God created the heavens and the earth, He did it through Jesus, the Word (John 1:3, Hebrews 1:2). When God breathed His own Spirit into man, He did so through Jesus, and the man became a “living soul” (Genesis 2:7). All of this shows that God the Father and Jesus are not just alive, but they have life within them that they can impart to other creatures, including mankind.
Jesus didn’t give up His life-giving character when He became a man – it was still there, lighting up the darkness wherever He went. Remember that throughout the Bible evil and sin are equated with death and darkness. When Jesus came, He actively opposed and conquered all forms of darkness and evil, sin and even death, often by a single word from His lips. I am fond of saying that there never was a fair fight between Jesus and satan’s minions. Every time Jesus showed up, any demons present were instantly reduced to little quivering piles of jelly, begging for their very existence. When He said, “Go,” they had to go. No fight; no battle; no wrestling match. They just left.
Of course His greatest conquest over sin and death and evil and satan was at His resurrection. For a couple of days it almost looked as if sin had won – that satan had gained the victory over Jesus; that darkness had succeeded in extinguishing forever the Light of the world. But that wasn’t the case. On the third day the light burst through the darkness shining the brilliant life of God all over the world!
John 1 contains two of the saddest verses in the whole Bible, and verse 5 is one of them: “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” The meaning of this is that even though the light of God was shining in all of that darkness, the people who lived in the darkness, those who most needed the light, were so blind that they couldn’t even comprehend that there was a light that was shining! As Jesus noted by quoting Isaiah, “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” (Matthew 13:15 NIV) The problem wasn’t so much that they were unable to see, as it was that they were unwilling to see. They had closed their eyes, and plugged their ears so hard that they couldn’t even comprehend that the God that they claimed to serve had come right into their presence.
But another tragic aspect of verse 5 is that John puts it in the present tense: “The light SHINES in the darkness…” The light of Jesus is still shining to this very day – the same evil banishing, life-giving, death-conquering light is being shone into the darkness of our broken world right now. And, just like at all times in the past, there are a lot of people who are unable to comprehend it, because they are unwilling to believe what God has told us plainly through His word, and through the Holy Spirit speaking to their hearts and consciences. With all of the light that is available, far too many people prefer to stumble around in the dark, choosing their own way, and claiming that they are just fine (cf. Revelation 3:17), when the whole time they are dying for lack of light and lack of life.
The good news is that Jesus, working through the prayers of His people, is able to open eyes that have been blinded by sin; He can open ears that have been plugged so long that they seem permanently deaf; He can shine light into hearts that can appear to us permanently dark and rock hard. He has done it multiplied billions of times throughout history, and He can do it today!