There are a few remarkable features of the Gospel of John, or certain phrases you only find in John. And one of these in the mentioning of Light and in particular the light in relation to darkness. The gospel of John, and his letters, are full of references to light against the darkness.
It already begins in the first few verses of John’s gospel. It says in :4; In Him was life and the life was the Light of humanity. The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
And here in chapter 3 of our reading, the same phrases are found again: The Light has come into the world, and those who do evil they hate the light and love the darkness instead, :20.
This duality between light and darkness in John’s gospel, requires some notations for a good understanding of what John means to say.
In the first place it is noteworthy to mention how John does not begin with darkness, but with the Light. In the beginning John wrote that the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome the light. And also in chapter 3, the light comes before the darkness. Besides, on several other places in John’s gospel it is written that there is not only darkness in the world, but the world itself is darkness, like in chapter 8 and 12.
The 2nd observation in how John uses light against darkness is how John explains this in terms of sin and guild. And because of this experience of guild, darkness resists the Light. This means that walking in darkness is a breach in the relationship with God and it is therefore that Jesus said: who believes in Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life (8:12).
And in the final words Jesus spoke in public this becomes even more apparent. Chapter 12 in John’s gospel contains the last public appearance of Jesus Christ and the words He spoke to the crowds. In these final words Jesus said how He has come into the world as a Light so that no one who believes in Him should stay in darkness (:46).
There’s one final observation to mention, which is the the notion that the darkness has not overcome the Light. Essentially this is a somewhat wrong translation of the original Greek. The King James translation has translated in directly and correctly, by saying: And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
In keeping the original translation it focusses us on the question; why couldn’t the darkness, which is the world itself, not comprehended it? Our reading says that those who are evil hate the light and prefer the darkness instead, but the world is not full of people who only want to do evil. It says that those who want to do what is true want to come to the Light, but where are they? Perhaps this is the reason why it says; ‘the darkness comprehended it not’.
The people no longer know about the Light of the world. And even when they know about the True Light, their minds are now so full of many types of guiding lights of this day and age, they can no longer observe the true Light.
There remains a task for us, who follow the Light, to let this True Light show among all the other guiding lights. It’s not so much by our words, or perhaps even by what we do, but even more so by our prayers. It begins to pray for the people whom we love that they may see the True Light and comprehend what the True Light could mean to them.