29 December 2007

John 1:1-14

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 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." (v.1-5)


This passage, among the most dramatic in the New Testament, marks the beginning of John's Gospel. This Gospel was the last of the four pictures of Jesus' life in the New Testament to be written in terms of chronology.

This text can be seen as a Jesus-centred mirror of Genesis 1:1. In this passage, Jesus is with God and is one with God in the beginning. For the early followers of Jesus, his cosmic origins with God become the 'standard bearer' for the essential difference between the new faith and the old one.

This passage essentially maps out the future direction of Jesus' ministry with the activity of God in seeking to save all people. Jesus comes to give life and light to all people - "and the life was the light of all people" (v.4).

For many people who have suffered from oppression, injustice and marginalisation, verse 5 has particular importance. The experience of personal and collective struggle against injustice has often been likened to living within the all-enveloping midst of darkness. And yet, in an echo of the triumphant resurrection, the author asserts that "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it".

As we approach the end of another year - one of struggle for many - the news that the light of Jesus Christ is never overcome by the darkness of evil continues to offer light and life to countless millions across the globe. May the light of Christ continue to shine in the heart of all who are oppressed!

To Ponder

In what ways have you, your family or friends been in 'darkness' over this past year?

Looking back, what were the glimmers of light for you?

It is often said 'it is better to light one candle than to curse the dark'. What are the situations, events or people for whom you wish to light a candle now?

Bible notes author

Dr Anthony Reddie

Dr Anthony Reddie is a Research Fellow in Black Theological Studies for the Methodist Church and the Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in Birmingham. He is the author of a number of books and is the editor of Black Theology: An International Journal.