3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. (John 1:3–8)
In this passage, it seems that verse 5 stands as a key verse, so let’s start with it.
THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS
John 1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended [overcame] it not.
What is this “light” and what is the “darkness” that it is shining in?
The light is Jesus Christ Himself. Later in the Gospel of John, Jesus says—
…I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)
The “darkness” refers to spiritual darkness (Ephesians 6:12). It’s living outside of God’s light. It’s like walking down a dark alley instead of staying on the well-lit streets. Dark alleys are dangerous and full of evil.
The word for “comprehended,” katalambanō, means to seize or to lay hold of something. You can use the word mentally, like “comprehended” suggests, as seizing an understanding of something. Or you can use the word physically, like how John uses it in chapter 8 referring to a woman “taken” (seized) in adultery.
Both senses make sense here. On the one hand, physically speaking, when a light is shined in a dark room, the darkness is dispelled. The light cannot be taken or seized by the darkness. The darkness cannot overcome it. It has to flee!
Spiritually speaking, the darkness cannot understand the light. Unbelievers do not “get” God. Atheists of course don’t. Even the most understanding of unbelievers think of Christianity as a religion that does some good things in the world. They focus on the good deeds, but cannot comprehend the concept of salvation by grace through faith. Or they might agree that there is a Heaven, but it’s just a place to reunite with old friends…there’s no concept of worshipping the Lamb forever.
I believe both these meanings are in view here—the darkness does not comprehend or understand the light and therefore it tries to overcome the light, but it cannot.
Why is the light so wonderful and powerful? First, we see that…
THE LIGHT COMES FROM THE CREATOR
John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without [apart from] him was not any thing made that was made.
We’ve already seen how John opened his gospel with a statement meant to draw us back to the first three words in the Bible, “In the beginning.”
But instead of seeing the familiar, “God created the heaven and the earth,” John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word.”
We learned that this Word is Jesus Christ (John 1:14-15) and that Jesus is the one God while being a distinct person from the Father and the Spirit. And so that means that Jesus is the Creator, a truth borne out by other scriptures, such as…
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:2, cf. Colossians 1:16)
God the Father created through the agent of God the Son. Perhaps one poetical way of expressing it is to say that when God spoke in Genesis 1, He spoke “the Word”—Jesus Christ.
As you read through the creation account in Genesis 1, there are several themes. One, we already looked at, is how God spoke everything into existence.
But another theme has to do with light. Look at the account of the first day of Creation. In verse 2, we see the earth was was covered in darkness and then…
…God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:3–5)
Physically speaking, the light of God drove away the darkness. Then we read about the fourth day of Creation:
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years…17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. (Genesis 1:14–19)
Many people have wondered why God created light on the first day, but waited until the fourth day to create the sun and stars. Isn’t that backwards? Not necessarily.
Are the sun and stars the only source of light in the universe? No. On a dark, moonless, cloudy night, you can still find other sources of light—a campfire, a flashlight, a lightning storm, a firefly.
But theologically, there’s a bigger statement the Bible is making here. The sun and stars are not only not the only sources of light in the universe, they are also not the ultimate source of light in the universe.
What Genesis is saying, when we look at it from the perspective of the Gospel of John, is that Jesus Christ—the Word—is the ultimate source of light.
But do people see this Light? Once a little boy sat up one night all night wondering where the sun went. Finally, it dawned on him! That’s the situation with a lot of people. They ignore the light of Jesus even though it could pierce the darkness in their lives. And why? We find the answer in John 3—
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)
Our sinful nature inclines us towards darkness. We enjoy our secret sinful thoughts and take pleasure in indulging the sinful nature. Therefore, the darkness is appealing to us. Therefore, Jesus is not so appealing to us because His light reveals our sin. The next verse in John says,
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. (John 3:20)
Are you avoiding the light of your Creator? If you are not born again, you are. You are loving the darkness of living your life by your own rules.
That’s what sin is: ignoring God’s ways and doing things your own way. Only when you recognize that you are walking in darkness will you want to turn towards the Light. You do that by believing in Jesus Christ the Light.
And why is it so important to turn to God’s Light? Because a second wonderful truth about light is that…
THE LIGHT IS THE SOURCE OF ETERNAL LIFE
John 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men [in that it shines on them].
The light that shines in the darkness is the light of life. In Genesis 1, it was very critical that light was created on the first day. Without light, there can be no physical life. Light is what energizes life. Aren’t there creatures that live totally in darkness? Yes, but if there was no light on the surface, they would die because the ecosystem would break down.
Spiritually, light is also the source of spiritual life.
12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)
Without Jesus, you are not only in darkness (because you have no light), but you are also dead (because you have no life). Jesus is the source of both light and life, without Him, a person has neither. Paul wrote, “And you hath he quickened [made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).
What is this life that comes from Jesus?
1) It Is Eternal Life
11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (1 John 5:11)
What is eternal life? Well, it is life that does not end. It’s like the Energizer Bunny, it goes on and on. For the Christian, this is a great comfort because, in the midst of trials, we can remember that the 70 or 80 years we have here on earth are just a blip in the millions of eons that we will have with eternal life. After a billion years with God, what will the pain of the 70 years here seem like?
But sometimes that billion years seems boring to us, so there’s another aspect of eternal life we must consider and that is that…
2) It Is Abundant Life
Jesus says in John 10:10, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” People have gotten the mistaken impression that Heaven will be sitting on a cloud playing a harp. That’s just not true.
Imagine your happiest day in your life so far, multiply the happiness you felt a billion times, and then imagine that happening every single day for eternity!
I think every human, deep down, yearns for eternal life (they might call it something else). We long for happiness that lasts and lasts.
The problem is that we pursue it in the wrong ways. We chase the idols of materialism, sex, or the unrestrained behavior that we call it freedom. But this abundant forever life is found only in Jesus Christ.
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
Do you have eternal life today? Have you found it by trusting in Jesus?
One more thing about this Light, and that is…
THE LIGHT HAS A WITNESS
John 1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
Why bring up John the Baptist here? Why not wait until verse 19?
It would only be a guess, but one thing that it does is brings up the idea of God wanting to spread the Light through a human witness.
God could have chosen to spread the Light in many ways. He could have written the gospel in the sky or made donkeys talk to people. But instead He chose to use human witnesses to spread the light. And so we have, “There was a man sent from God.”
Who was this man, John—John the Baptist?
He was a cousin to Jesus. In Luke 1, we are introduced to a priest named Zacharias and his wife, Elisabeth. Elisabeth and Mary were cousins (Luke 1:36). Zacharias and Elisabeth were old and had no children, because Elisabeth was barren.
One day, while Zacharias was doing his turn of service in the temple, an angel appeared to him and told him that they would have a son and that they should name him John.
John’s birth then, was a miracle, like the miracle of birth to barren women in the Old Testament like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Hannah.
You know God’s got something special in mind for such a child, and John was no exception. Zacharias prophesied about his son, saying that John was come…
79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:79)
This is exactly what John’s gospel brings out about John the Baptist—not that he was the Light, but that he would show the Light.
John 1:7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him [John] might believe. John 1:8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
What was John the Baptist’s purpose? To bear witness to the Light, so that all men through his testimony would have the opportunity to believe. Take a look at some of the things that John the Baptist said about Jesus Christ:
1) Jesus is God.
23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. (John 1:23)
In Isaiah 40, where that quote is from, “the Lord” refers to God. But here, John the Baptist uses it in reference to Jesus. So that means that John was saying that Jesus is God.
2) Jesus is Great.
27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. (John 1:27)
John would consistently deny any comparison people made him great and Christ small. He only wanted them to see Jesus as Great.
3) Jesus is the Lamb.
29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
Where did John get this idea of Jesus being a Lamb? The Holy Spirit could have injected into his brain, but since the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God, I think that John got the idea from pondering Isaiah 53—
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned every one to his own way; And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, Yet he opened not his mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, So he openeth not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:6–7)
4) Jesus is Eternal.
30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. (John 1:30)
How could Jesus be before John? John was born six months before Jesus (cf. Luke 1:26)! There’s only one way John’s statement makes sense, and that’s that he was saying that Jesus is eternal.
5) Jesus is the Son of God.
34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. (John 1:34)
Now, what do we learn from this? The big thing that struck me is that a witness of Jesus Christ is someone who speaks about Jesus Christ. This is what being a witness is all about.
You can see this in the word itself…imagine a witness who comes to the stand but refuses to answer any questions or impart any information. The jury might notice something is different about the witness, but they will never know why unless the witness speaks!
Some of us shyer Christians secretly hope that our witness can be our good and holy lives that we live. I won’t deny that is important.
An unholy life is something that will wreck a testimony and cause unbelievers to cry, “Hypocrite!”
And a godly life provides evidence of truth for the words that you speak (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12).
But no one will be able to come to the Light of Jesus with some words of explanation. You can walk around with joy in your heart and a smile on your face, but they cannot know why unless you tell them. For all they know, you just got a raise at work or you are happy about a new car!
Witnessing is speaking to others about Christ. It’s telling them what the Bible says about Jesus. It’s sharing with them about your own encounter with the Savior. It is being the voice in the wilderness like John the Baptist. Are we being voices for Jesus? Are we being witnesses to the Light?
Levi Durfey—LDM-43-John 1.3-8-20191208FBCAM-SERMON