In him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.
Darkness is powerless before the light. It doesn’t matter how deep is the darkness. It cannot stop the light of a single candle from shining.
The life that was in Christ Jesus was like light in the darkness. The darkness did not overcome it. It could not overcome it. All the might of mighty Rome arrayed itself against him, but it could not put an end to the life that was in him. It could not silence this word made flesh. It could not extinguish the light. The light continues to shine.
But there is a double meaning in the word John chooses for ‘overcome’. It means ‘to grasp’ or ‘to seize’, ‘to lay hold of’, and so also ‘to comprehend’. The darkness did not understand the light.
I remember a man in a hospital bed who did not believe. But he asked me question after question after question trying to make sense of this Jesus. He couldn’t understand the light. But he couldn’t extinguish it either. It beckoned to him despite himself, like the light of a window summoning those lost in a dark wood, promising warmth and shelter and sight. You stumble towards it though you do not understand it. You stumble towards it because the darkness cannot overcome it. You stumble towards it, because the light calls you to itself.