Today Wayne Hart led the discussion, beginning with describing how the Bible story begins with a world shrouded in darkness. God’s first step in making it habitable is to bring light into it (Gen. 1:3), distinguishing between night and day. God lights the earth before he even sets the sun and moon in the sky on the “fourth day.
Light figures prominently in the story of Israel. For example, God distinguishes between Israelites and their oppressors, the Egyptians, by giving darkness to the latter for three days while giving normal light to his people. Later, their Tabernacle would have a candle that is to remain lit without stopping wherever it was set up.
When Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, prophesies about his son (Luke 1:67-79) he claims that this boy would prepare the people to meet “the morning light” who would “guide our feet into the way of peace.” Simeon the prophet, on seeing the baby Jesus, prophesies that Jesus would be “a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles.”
As Jesus forgives a woman who had been accused by a crowd, he tells his audience, “I am the light of the world. [The one] who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
John the Gospel writer, reflecting back on Jesus’ life notes that, “In him was life, and the life was the light of [humanity]” (John 1:2) Any farmer (and there are several in this group) knows that light is absolutely essential to life on earth. Even metaphorically speaking, “light” (enlightenment) is essential to distinguishing right from wrong and knowing where to go next.
Like at the beginning of Genesis, God illuminates the world and sends a light-bringer to “rule the day.” Yet “the darkness” does not “get” the light. (The word translated “comprehended” in the King James Version, gives the idea of either not understanding or being unable to overpower. The latter is probably intended, though John is well known among Greek scholars for deliberate double-meanings in his word-choice.)
Can we always tell when understanding is truly from Jesus? Paul warns that Satan can appear to be “an angel of light” (1 Cor. 11:12-14). Fortunately, John provides some instruction about ways to tell that illumination truly is from God. “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness” (John 2:8-11). While this may not be a final word about how to tell the difference, it certainly goes a long way.