TODAY’S READING: JOHN 1-2
“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
We are surrounded by death.
The literal, physical death of friends, family, loved ones.
The metaphorical death of plans, dreams, desires, even our selves.
We are surrounded by death to such an extent that we believe that God is responsible for all the death in this world. We believe he uses war, and the death it brings, to judge nations and peoples. We believe he uses all sorts of natural disasters to judge nations and peoples. We believe men are appointed a time to die so God takes the lives of men whenever he feels like it, often as some sort of judgment.
Because of these beliefs, we further believe that when Jesus returns he is going to judge all those who sinned, all those who failed to believe in him. And, as Jesus judges these people, he is going to throw them in a lake of eternal fire, utterly destroy them, kill them.
We believe that Jesus, and therefore God, is going to condemn people to death.
This is antichrist.
This is Satanic.
This is an evil belief of the highest order.
This is the worst maligning and blaspheming of the character of God I can think of.
The first chapter of John is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It is glorious. Much attention is drawn to John 1:1-2. Many Christians can rattle off those verses without even having to think about them.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”
Beautiful. Wonderful. Truly an amazing statement about Jesus.
But, I believe we have short changed John 1:4-5.
“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.”
It is equally beautiful and wonderful. And, if we truly meditated on the full import of John’s words, then we would see that Jesus gives life.
Jesus gives life.
End of story.
Jesus does not kill.
Jesus does not murder.
Jesus does put people to death.
And what we know to be true of Jesus we know to be true of God. “No one has ever seen God; the only God [Jesus], who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (John 1:18)
Behold what John 1:4-5 is saying.
“In him was life.”
This is speaking of Jesus. Life is in him. This is not just any life. It is the life of God.
In John 5:26, Jesus said, “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.”
In John 11:25, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
“The life was the light of men.”
This life, the life of God, that was in Jesus was the light of men. It is the life of God that shines forth to men. It is the life of God that is the light that allows us to see clearly. Light reveals. And the light that shined forth from Jesus to reveal was the life of God.
In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”
John 1:9 says, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”
Is the light that shines forth and reveals the life of God for a select few?
Jesus is the light, the true light, of the world, giving light to everyone. This light is coming, continually, ever brighter, into the world.
“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” (Proverbs 4:18)
Who is “the” righteous but Jesus?
Who is it that shines brighter and brighter until full day but Jesus?
Jesus is the light that emanates forth from life that shines brighter and brighter, make God’s life clearer and clearer, until the full day that he returns.
“The light shines in the darkness.”
This is so much more than physical light shining in physical darkness.
This is so much more than light, which is truth, shining in, revealing, darkness, which is everything that is false.
Light emanates from life. Life is the light.
Life is shining in the darkness. The eternal, unchanging, undying, ever present life of God is shining in the darkness.
Yes, darkness that represents evil, wickedness, and sin.
But, even more darkness that is death itself.
Speaking of Jesus, Matthew 4:14-16 says, “So that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a great has dawned.”
People dwelling in darkness.
The same as the people dwelling in the region of death.
Darkness and death are one and the same.
“The light shines in the darkness.”
The life of Jesus, the life of God, shines in death, all the death that is in the world.
In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
You will not walk in death. Rather, life will be the light that leads you.
In John 12:46, Jesus said, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”
Jesus came into the world as light. But, the light comes forth from the life, the life of God in Jesus. And, if you have the light you will not remain in darkness, in death. The light removes darkness. Therefore, the life of God that comes into the world removes death.
Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit is now at work in the sons of disobedience.”
We were dead. We existed in death, in darkness.
We walked according to the course of this world, following the ruler of the world. The ruler of this world is Satan, And, to walk, to follow after his course, in his way is to walk in death. Hebrews 2:14 says that he, Satan, the devil, has the power of death.
“But God…even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” (Ephesians 2:4, 5)
We walked in death. God makes us walk in life.
Colossians 1:13 says, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”
From the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.
From the kingdom of death to the kingdom of life.
“And the darkness has not overcome it.”
The darkness could lay hold of the light. It could not grasp it, seize it. Darkness could not defeat light.
Light overcomes darkness. Light defeats darkness.
Go back to the first chapter of the Bible, the creation story, which John continually references in the early chapters of his gospel.
“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.” Darkness, that is death, was pervasive.
“And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” The Spirit was brooding over the earth and the darkness and death upon as if to give birth to life.
“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Light coming into the world of darkness. “The light shines in the darkness.” Life coming into the world of death.
“And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.” Light is good. Life is good. God is good and only good. Life came in and darkness was separate out.
What do we see in the rest of the creation story?
The ever greater expansion of life, day after day, until the full day when the life of God, his very image and likeness, was in mankind.
Life overcomes death. Life defeats death.
Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through the fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
Jesus, in whom is the life of God, came to defeat death by destroying the one who had the power of death.
Who had the power of death?
The devil. Satan.
Not God. Not Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:54-56 says, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The perishable puts on the imperishable.
The mortal puts on immortality.
Darkness puts on light.
Death puts on life.
Darkness is swallowed up in light.
Death is swallowed up in life.
This is the victory that comes through Jesus Christ. This is what all creation is groaning for.
The Greek word for darkness in John 1:5 is skotia. It is used 17 times in the New Testament. Everywhere you look in the Bible the number 17 is associated with victory and overcoming the enemy. Therefore, it is quite appropriate that skotia, darkness, which symbolizes death, it used 17 times.
Have you noticed that Satan is always the one associated with death. Not Jesus. Not God.
Jesus, and God, is always associated with life.
Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Satan gives death.
Jesus gives life.
1 Corinthians 15:45 says, “The last Adam [Jesus] became a life-giving spirit.”
Jesus is a life-giving Spirit. He cannot give death. He can only give life.
Jesus gives life.
This is everywhere in the Bible. This is the witness that the Bible gives. We only need to get our eyes off the death in this world, which we then map on to God, and look to Jesus to see that it so.
Not only is it the witness of the Bible, the testimony of men, that Jesus, gives life, but it is the testimony of God.
God’s testimony is that he gives life, eternal life, and the life is in Jesus. Jesus gives life.
If you don’t believe this testimony, the you make God a liar.
1 John 5:9-13 says, “If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not beleive in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Jesus gives life.
Don’t believe me.
Don’t believe men.
Don’t believe the Bible.