Day 3: Life and Light

That which has come into being through Him was life; and the life was the light for humanity (John 1:3b-4)

Insults are never good. The insult “get a life” is a particularly bad one. It makes little sense: the person being referred to clearly has a life; they are living and breathing. The insult generally suggests that the person’s existence is in some way sub-par, which is a cruel accusation to make.

This verse states that the Logos, Jesus Christ, in creating the cosmos, gives life. There are two main Greek words for life, which although they overlap, can be distinguished: firstly, bios, which has more to do with actual existence from the time we are born; secondly, zoē, the word used here and throughout John’s Gospel, which has more to do with a mode of being: an even greater, more purposeful lived existence, somewhat different from lifespan from birth. Zoē indicates a fulfilment that flies in the face of the insult “get a life”.

The life that comes into being through the Logos is further defined as “the light for humanity”. Light will be another grand theme in this Gospel: sight and blindness on literal, symbolic, metaphorical, and spiritual levels. This light is inclusive: it is for everyone in history – past, present, future; it does not discriminate.

Jesus Christ, the Logos, represents life and light. It might not always seem like it – darkness is also a (temporary) reality (see tomorrow, John 1:5) – but John claims this Light is true (see John 1:9). Many have trusted in the Light down the centuries. The Church Father, Justin Martyr, wrote about the diversity of people in the second-century who entrusted themselves to Christ because they had experienced His light: “in Christ … not only philosophers and scholars believed, but also artisans and people entirely uneducated”.[1] They had – and still have – life. What does it mean for us to have life today?

[1] Apologies, 2.10; retrieved through a chapter by George van Kooten, “The True Light which Enlightens Everyone” in his edited book, The Creation of Heaven and Earth: Re-interpretations of Genesis 1 in the context of Judaism, Ancient Philosophy, Christianity, and Modern Physics (Leiden, 2005), p.191.

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