By Jonathan David Faulkner
I love the start of John’s Gospel. Not just because it sets forth the Deity of Christ, but because of how it sets forth the Deity of Christ. Establishing his reign from the beginning of time as “in the beginning” and being “The Word (that) was with God” (gk Logos Eimi Pros Theos). Similar to how Paul puts forth Christ in Colossians 1:15 as “The Image of the invisible God.” This word was not only with God but was God and has existed from the beginning of time. Not only that, Christ in his Deity is also the instrument of Creation, or again as Paul puts it: “The firstborn of all creation” (Col 1:15) Begotten of the father as part of the father to be the author of Creation. “So that Christ might be pre-eminent in all things” (Col 1:16). John says that without Christ “Nothing was made that was made.” Without the Son, working as part of the Godhead, in perfect unity with the Father & Spirit, nothing would be made, we would not be here. Finally, in verse 4-6 John says; “In him was the life and that life was the light to all men. A light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not understood it”
The Greek of verse 5 reads: “Kai ho phos phaino en ho Skotia, kai ho skotia katalambono ou autos.” The Verb here is the verb Katalambono, which means: to lay hold of, grasp; to obtain, attain, Rom. 9:30; 1 Cor. 9:24; Phil. 3:12, 13; to seize, to take possession of, Mk. 9:18; to come suddenly upon; overtake, surprise, Jn. 12:35; 1 Thess. 5:4; to detect in the act, seize, Jn. 8:3, 4; met. to comprehend, apprehend, Jn. 1:5; mid. to understand, perceive, Acts 4:13; 10:34; 25:25; Eph. 3:18” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) and is receiving the action of Skotia (Darkness) which cannot understand or overtake or surprise or do anything to the Phos (light). The Greek word Kata which appears here as part of the verb Lambano can be translated as; Daily, Against, According to so the phrase Katalambano ou mans that though the darkness may come against it daily or come against it at all, it shall not defeat it. The verse literally means that there is nothing that darkness can do to the light. In context, there is nothing that darkness can do to Christ, there is nothing that can be done to Christ, there is nothing that can be done to the Godhead, to the Word which was with and was God in the Beginning.
As we enter the season of Advent at the end of a turbulent election that has cause even more turbulence in the weeks that followed. In a time when we may think we are without a hope on Earth it is important to remember these things. With the four weeks and focuses during Advent Hope (Elpis), Light (Phos), Love (Agapie) and Joy (Chara) we have plenty of reminders that we indeed have not been abandoned and that God is still with us.
Yet, it seems hopeless. Even my close Christian brothers and sisters seem to have forgotten the deep and abiding hope that we have in Christ. I have been surprised by those who, when someone tries to speak of hope, have shut them down. Seemingly choosing to abandon hope and focus on the darkness.
Is there darkness? Yes, there is a great deal of darkness. Our president-elect has unleashed quite a great deal of evil from both sides of the political picket lines. Minorities have been bullied, woman fear men, illegals fear deportation, LGBTQ fear loss of rights and increased persecution the disabled fear increased bullying. Meanwhile, those who voted for him fear violence from those adamantly opposed to him. Though these cases are rare (though more frequent than before) they have caused both sides to refuse to listen to the other. We have, instead of love for the other, fear of the other and because of fear, demonization of the other. Slowly, the light of human hope dims and we become more and more divided. Instead of hope, we have despair, instead of love we have hate, instead of Joy we have depression and instead of light we have darkness.
It certainly seems that today the darkness has daily come against the light. On cannot turn on the news without being confronted by some tragedy or negative story that somehow includes the nation as a whole. The picture is bleak and for those uninitiated with Christ, to the unbeliever, it shall remain so. But should it for the Christian?
I am not saying here that we cannot be angry, that it is wrong to look at the darkness and not be discouraged or afraid or even face some sort of depression. I do not believe in and will not advocate for Christianity where we are all happy all the time and where we are never down. That is unrealistic and I would even argue destructive towards the Christian and the Church as a whole. We do need to be real about the state of the world and the state of the church and our souls. Even Jesus experiences despair as is evident by his prayer in Gethsemane before his arrest. We need to be honest with the state of our lives and where we are at mentally. Notice in Job 38:2 after Jobs multitude of complaints and his depression God does not condemn Job for despair but says “Who is this that darkens counsel?” Job’s sin was not his despair, but that in his despair he allowed himself to darken the Counsel of God. Even I would say that I am not in the best of places since the Election as I have watched people destroy each other over ideological differences totally unrelated to the extremism that has most of us scared.
But we also cannot stay there, nor can we drag others down with us or more accurately, instead of having a negative impact, we should seek to have a positive impact. As I told my brother the day after the Election: “It is okay to be angry, it is what we do with that anger that is important.” What I meant was; does the way that we feel drive us to sin, which would be in direct violation of scriptures such as Psalms 4:4 and Ephesians 4:26, both of which say expressly “Be Angry and do not sin.” Or are we going to seek to have an aggressively positive impact on those around us. As we are surrounded by darkness, are we going to bless the nation that in no way deserves to be blessed? In our anger will be graciously turn over tables where they need be turned over and extend love to even those who hate us? I think this is one of those times when Jeremiah stands as an example to the American Church. As the darkness grows thick about us, as we feel we are being carried off we now have to live out a mandate to “Build houses, settle down and plant Gardens” (29:5).
This is hard, seeing the light is hard, but guess what! The light is still there and brothers and sisters the darkness has not understood it. Friends, there is still cause for hope.
Even greater hope because John does not leave the Word (logos) as some transcendent being unable to relate to us, Instead, the light of life, the light the darkness has not overcome, the Word that was God and was with God and served as an agent of creation put on flesh and came and dwelt among us. In the incarnation Jesus steps into the world of men, into the darkness of men and takes up our own fleshly mantle and becomes one of us. The image of the Invisible God, the firstborn of all creation came to dwell among us, was tempted, lived a sinless life, took on man’s sins, suffered, died and defeated sin and death for all time. He did not start fully formed, but came as a baby, laying in a manger. Weak and defenseless and under threat from Herod.
This child is our light, this child is our hope, this child is our love, this child is our joy.
Those who believe will never face death because of this Child.
In the midst of the darkness, when all seems hopeless, the Christian can have a lasting and enduring hope that one day we will pass into the light of life. Until then, we must, we must begin to live out this hope in our immediate contexts. It is only through The Light that we will heal and be able to reach out to those hurting. We cannot give others hope if we are denying it ourselves. We will never see hope restored to millions if we ourselves refuse to live out the hope of the Gospel and the light of life.
No matter who is president or what is happening with ideological groups, this hope stands secure. The light of life is with us in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are free from the shadow of death by God our father.
Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry