The Light Shines in the Darkness

 
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“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” –John 1:5

I was called into the hospital from my cozy living room where my family and I were laying around enjoying the lazy after Christmas daze surrounded by pieces of wrapping paper, chocolate candies and glasses of eggnog.

The man lay motionless on the hospital bed.  He had a stroke just as he sat down in his grand Cherokee getting ready to drive home after his family’s Christmas party.  We held hands and prayed for healing but also peace in the promises of resurrection in Jesus Christ.  He had just been baptized two weeks earlier before his quadruple bypass surgery. Hallelujah. We held his funeral on New Year’s Eve.

The devil thought he darkened our Christmas. We sang “Come Thou Fount”, buried his blessed body in the name of Jesus and enjoyed ham and potatoes, various cakes and plenty of hugs, crying and laughing.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

We fought that week over money. I said some things I shouldn’t have said. We drove to a party in silence.  We drove back later without a word in the dark.  I was scared of what she thought. She didn’t know if I realized that I had hurt her.

Arriving at home we found ourselves both going to the sink for a cup of water. “I’m sorry. I was totally wrong to say that.” She was quiet for a moment, then she said, “I forgive you,” and poured me a glass.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

But another possible translation for the Greek word we translate as ‘overcome’ and one maybe more consistent with the context is ‘comprehend.’
— Joel Hess

Judas kissed Christ on the cheek. It was too dark to get to Him themselves. They tried Him in the dark. They lied about Him in the dark.  They snuffed Him out on a dark cross between two criminals convicted of dark deeds. Darkness. Yet He made even that darkness light as His death became the payment for all of our sins! There is no debt hanging over your heads anymore

The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

There has been debate about the proper translation of the above sentence.  The word ‘overcome’ sounds cool. Indeed, this is true. The light of forgiveness and eternal life freely given to sinners has pierced every darkness the world and Satan can throw at us. The Gospel is unstoppable!

But another possible translation for the Greek word we translate as ‘overcome’ and one maybe more consistent with the context is ‘comprehend.’        

The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not comprehended it.

Why would Jesus eat dinner with sinners?

Why is the Church full of hypocrites?

Why would you forgive that jerk 7 times 70!?

The darkness doesn’t get it! Why does that man tied to wires and tubes in the hospital have a smile on his face?  Why does that woman on death row not fear the executioner's chair? Why does the Church still smile and talk about Jesus even though it no longer has a seat at Western culture’s table?

Why do we worship a God on a cross?

Why does God love a sinner like me?

The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not comprehended it!

 

Rev. Joel Hess is the fortunate pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Cadillac, MI, where God’s reality pierces through our illusions by His Word, flesh and blood and gentle waters.  He is the author of many half written projects; a talented musician and artist.  His contributions to the Jagged Word deal with the intersection of theology, culture and the arts.




 
 
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