John 1 : 4-5
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
I recall seeing an illustration once about light that changed the way that I understood Jesus. I will warn you that it was incredibly simple; obvious, even. But the realization that followed for me was profound.
In a dark room you simply flick on a lamp, and light fills the space. It fills the space imperfectly, yes; but it fills the space nonetheless. The darkness does not overcome the light, but the light shines through the darkness. We see shadows according to the light source’s location; and it is brighter right next to the source than it is several feet away. Yet still, light challenges and overcomes the darkness. It arrives, and it shows us what is there.
The opposite does not exist. There is no darkness lamp or flame, no source that causes darkness to overtake the light. A light source must be covered, moved away, or turned off for darkness to return. Darkness cannot ever truly prevail over light.
What does this have to do with Jesus? Jesus identifies Himself as the Light of the world (John 8:12). With the previous illustration in mind, this characteristic took on a whole new meaning for me.
Darkness as Spiritual Blindness
Scripture speaks of “walking in darkness” as living in a state of spiritual blindness. In this darkness, individuals move through life bumping into all sorts of circumstances, pleasant or harrowing, expected or shocking, and everything in between. They move forward or backward (for who can tell in the darkness?) making decisions to the beat of their own emotions, at the pace of their ever-changing convictions. Spiritually blind people frequently place hope in things that are temporary, things cannot hold that hope.
In spiritual darkness, things remain hidden: our intentions, motivations, sins. These things that we often tell ourselves we can handle on our own. In spiritual darkness, we believe lies about the reality of our condition.
Jesus as the Light of the World, the Light of Life
Then Jesus arrives, and shines meaning into what is really here before us; what has been here all along. He arrives so that we may come out of the darkness (John 1:9, John 12:46).
In His light we are seen and known; something that we all simultaneously desire and fear. We will be seen and known not only by Jesus (who already saw and knew), but also by the community around us.
Under the scope of His radiating light, we are enlightened more and more to understand God the Father, the world He has created, and our role in His story. A key part of that role that He has given to His children is to extend that light of His into the world; we get to radiate His glorious light (Matthew 5:14-16)!
And finally, in the end of this grand narrative that we all are a part of, we will reach a point at which God is the sole light source remaining. Perfect, complete, without shadow or change (James 1:17), He will always be our light (Isaiah 60:19-20, Revelation 21:23-35, Revelation 22:5); and the light has not been overcome by darkness.