Monday 19 June 2017

Bible Book:

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (v. 5)

John 1:1-18 Monday 19 June 2017

Psalm: Psalm 20


It's the middle of June so naturally our minds turn to 24December. I jest, but kindly play along with this Christmas Evegame. From a UK perspective, think candlelit church on a frostyevening, rosy cheeks and woolly pompom hats. Think angelicchorister voices from King's College wowing your digital soundsystems - still the world's finest accompaniment to parsnip slicingand sprout peeling. Most of all though, think last lesson of thetraditional nine-lessons-and carols service. It's this one: John 1.Utterly jaw dropping in its mystery.

There are choices in translation when it comes to our key verseand what darkness did or didn't do when confronted with light.Traditional carol services will often run with the much loved KingJames Bible version in the English of days gone by: "And the lightshineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."Darkness just didn't understand light. The New Revised StandardVersion (above) suggests darkness did not "overcome" light.Did not'master'it would be another reading. The Greek word κατέλαβεν[kateleben] is big enough to give a sense of all those options.Verb tenses matter here. The light is always shining in thedarkness: continuously on and on and on. Try putting it out withthe candle snuffer after carol service. You'll be there all night:it won't oblige. Then the next [aorist] tense somehow conveys thatdarkness has failed, emphatically, to grasp and get the better oflight. Never, ever has it done that. The implication? It neverwill.

John's Gospel introduces God's life-light Jesus throughconfident declaration, not reasonable explanation. The reader getsno answers to massive questions: how the one who came so much latercould possibly be at the birth of creation (verse 3) and apparentlyoffer the world more than Moses (verse 17)? It's impossible tocomprehend. Believers can never master such mystery. Good. Becauseon the day smug mortals think they fully 'get it' rather thanfaithfully trusting it, darkness begins to sing ever so quietly,"We shall overcome, we shall overcome, we shall overcome someday…".

To Ponder

  • What do you reckon life's biggest mystery is?
  • In Christian theology, if light always needs to triumph overdarkness, what implications are there for those who are blind orvisually impaired?
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