John 1:4 — “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
The New King James version of the Bible says that the darkness did not comprehend the light; other versions say that the darkness did not overcome it. Katalambano, the Greek word for “comprehend,” encompasses both interpretations. The darkness did not overcome, did not understand. The Orthodox Jewish Bible says that the darkness did not “grasp” it.
Which reminds me of my college calculus professor.
This man was not put on the planet to teach. His love for all things mathematical bordered on reverence, and he no doubt knew his stuff, but he knew nothing about teaching. He would write with one hand, erase with the other, talk to the blackboard, then turn and ask us if we “got it.” Mine wasn’t the only blank stare he received. “I don’t care if you understand it or not,” he shouted out of sheer frustration. “You’d better learn it for the exam!”
I didn’t, and never did under his tutelage. I could not grasp what he was trying to teach me.
It’s bad enough when we’re talking about calculus–something I’m not sure I’ve used since college. But when we’re talking about life and our relationship with the Creator, it’s far more serious. Being in darkness hinders salvation:
You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them (Mt 13:14-15 NASB).
Darkness will never grasp/understand light and will never overcome it, because once the light shines in the darkness, darkness ceases to exist and all things hiding in it are exposed—“there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 4:13; 10:31).
I am a child of the Light and want no part of darkness. The only light powerful enough to overcome the darkness in me comes from—is—the Lord Jesus Christ. While I pray that the Light shine in the darkness of this world, I also pray along with David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps 139:23-24).
(For other studies in this series, click the “Walking Softly with John: a Bible Study” tab in the menu above.)