When I lived in France, I went running on Wednesday evenings with a wonderful and diverse group of people who attacked the foothills of Pyrenees in the dark. Many of them owned headtorches and they were tremendously handy; so much so, I bought a cheap model myself, which I still occasionally use round Edinburgh. In the darkness, the tiniest amount of light makes a significant difference.
John writes that “the light shines in the darkness”. Slightly curiously, while virtually the whole prologue is past tense, here he uses the present tense. Potentially among other things, this shows the inherent property of light: it cannot cease to shine. That Light is the Logos, Jesus Christ, which since the beginning has been shining.
Light and darkness are not dualistic, equal forces: the light always wins. This explains the second part of this verse: “the darkness did not conquer it”. The Greek verb used here, katalambano, can have a few meanings: “win, gain”; “seize”; “understand, grasp” are all possibilities.
Sometimes, our lives can seem like true battles and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Darkness can gain a hold and impede our understanding of the light. The victory, however, is not permanent: the light is always shining in the darkness. As this brilliant contemporary song (perhaps my favourite discovery of this year) conveys: the Logos, Jesus Christ, the Light came into the midst of the darkness, defeated it, and set things in motion for the renewal of all things (Revelation 21:1-5): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2CEde1U0b8.