While worshiping on the first Sunday of Advent, I attentively listened to my pastor read from John 1:1-18 as I followed along in my CSB.  I paid particular attention to John 1:5: “That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.”  Afterwards I reread these familiar words of John’s gospel, which have been shared so often during the Advent season.  A footnote to John 1:5 in my CBS Bible notes that “overcome” can also mean “grasp, or comprehend, or overtake.”  

The NET Bible translates John 1:5 this way: “And the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.”  Phillips says, “The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out.”  The NET Bible notes “shines” as being in the present tense: “The light continually shines…expresses the timeless truth that the light of the world never ceases to shine” (NET).  

The Amplified Bible reads, “The light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it].  Continuing, it notes, “Although Satan and his forces resist the light, they cannot thwart its power.  In short, Jesus is life and light; those who accept Him are ‘sons of light’ (12:35-36).  As the creation of light was the beginning of the original creation, so, when believers receive the light, they become part of the new creation (II Cor. 4:3-6).” 

My thoughts often drift to focus on challenges men face.  On this particular Sunday, I sensed I should blog on John 1:5 and our battle with the ever-increasing darkness.  Jesus’ warning from John 12:35 seems very appropriate to 21st century believers: “You are going to have the light just a little while longer.  Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you.”   

Here’s how two cultural observers describe our society:  “There is a creeping sense that our society has turned upside-down.  Healthy debate is replaced by activist hysterics.  Speech is declared violence; violence is excused as speech.  Masculinity is condemned as ‘toxic,’ while men in dresses are celebrated in the public square.  It feels as if we are in the midst of a society-wide mental breakdown” (Christopher F. Rufo).  “There is something deeply unwell in our society right now… I’m sure social media, economic malaise, Covid lockdowns, fentanyl, and every other reason we hear about factor into it… in aggregate, (it) still feels insufficient” (Robert Sterling).  Sterling goes on to suggest that something “metaphysical” seems to have shifted.

In other words, something in the spiritual realm has changed.  Psalm 88:5 reminds us that the “gods” of this age walk in darkness. They cause earth’s foundations to shake. “The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing.  They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken” (Ps. 82:5).  Yes, there is a major shift taking place.  The “gods” of darkness have been loosed, causing a type of metaphysical “mental breakdown.” This has produced an unhealthy spiritual vacuum.  Paul warns, “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie” (II Thess. 2:11).

But remember, men: Jesus, the light of world, has come.  His light will not go out.  Darkness will not overcome, grasp, comprehend or put out that light.  In the future, AI may deceive many while claiming to bring light. We know better. “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day.”  We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like those who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled” (I Thess. 5:5-6).