John 1:5 (ANIV)
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood  it.
Or, darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
TIME OF DAY:
Not specified in Bible.
The pre-incarnate Jesus figure illuminates this scene.
Jesus is the light mentioned in verse 5 above. I decided to illustrate the darkness as waves and rocks, which are recoiling from the light issuing from Jesus. Notice that the dark rocks among the waves are breaking up, which is my way of showing that “the darkness has not overcome it”, which is the alternative translation of verse 5.
I found articles which explain the meaning behind the words in verse 5 (see below).
“What does John 1:5 mean?
Jesus’ light came during a dark time, according to verse 5. Sadly, mankind didn’t respond very well. The second phrase of this verse is sometimes translated as “the darkness did not overcome it,” or “the darkness did not comprehend it.” The original Greek word is katalmbano, which can mean “acquire,” “grasp,” or “lay hold of.” Since light is associated with knowledge, this in part means that Jesus was not (is not) understood by the world. Many people who reject the gospel do so because they misunderstand it. This inability to see Jesus for what He truly is has more to do with a person’s stubbornness than with their intellect (John 7:17). The evidence is there, but those who prefer darkness will not see it for what it is. This also has a sense of “seizing,” as in taking possession. Of course, the world would physically “grasp” the person of Jesus (John 19:18), but it could not overcome the Messiah (John 19:19–20).”
“Living Words: John 1:5
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it
Living Words takes a closer look at verses in the Bible and how we can apply them.
We’re living through one of the strangest and darkest times in recent history. The news about this pandemic is overwhelming and the future is uncertain. Those usually able to offer guidance or a steady hand are struggling to do so. It seems that all we are able to do with any amount of certainty is attempt to be there for one another. Even then, it’s often not possible or wise to be there for one another physically. Many are struggling. Many are devastated.
We know that we will have trouble in this world. Jesus Himself promised us as much in John 16:33. But of course, that isn’t all He said. The full verse is as follows:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Even as Jesus promises us that we will have dark times and trouble in this world, he promises us that we will endure. He encourages us to take heart and to trust Him. He has overcome the world!
That leads us to our main verse, in the beginning of John’s gospel. As John introduces the story of Jesus, he uses wonderful language and metaphor, describing Jesus as the Word, containing all life and the light of all mankind, and concluding with verse 5:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
In times such as these, how pivotal it is to remember this fact. Jesus brings light into the world, and though the world is full of darkness it has not overcome His light. In the end, there is hope. Christ will prevail!
While that sentiment is powerful and encouraging on its own, there is another translation I like even more. That translation states, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood it.” In this sense, it isn’t just that Jesus has overcome the darkness. It’s that He presents such a stark contrast to the defeated sentiment of this world that the darkness does not even understand or comprehend His light. As a result, it cannot accept that it’s bound for defeat.
Why have any optimism in this time? Why press forward or continue to do what we can for others? Why look for those small but shining silver linings? Why keep the faith?
The Lord has told us to do so, and He has promised us a future. He is faithful. That is why we have hope for a bright future. That is why we support others in times of need. That is not understood by the darkness around us. And yet, it does not matter that the darkness does not understand. We will prevail!
This isn’t limited to Christians. All people can share this sentiment, now more than ever. We are called to this. Certainly we will struggle, but we know we can reach out to God and our community, those God has placed in our lives, for help. They are all around us.
Although we are in a time of great calamity, we are promised a peace that exceeds anything we can understand. In the same way that peace transcends our comprehension, Jesus overcomes the darkness in the world.
Even when we struggle, seemingly encapsulated by the dire reality surrounding us, we can take solace in the fact that God is ultimately in control. I’ve come across Psalm 139 a few times in the past few days, and while I’d recommend reading the whole thing, this part is especially meaningful right now.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Currently, we feel overtaken by the darkness that has overwhelmed our world. But there is a light who has overcome that darkness. A light that has overcome this world and will lead us into victory.
The darkness does not understand why we have this hope, or comprehend the fact that there is peace and victory in Christ. We will struggle to fight hopelessness, and there is nothing wrong with having those moments. But we must turn away from that, act in ways we can to help humanity, and remind ourselves that there is another side of this conflict.
Even in our darkest time, we can access a peace and a hope. Even now, we can take solace in that.”
Here’s the rough pencil sketch I drew for this scene.
John 01 – The Word of life – Scene 02 – Darkness has not overcome – Greyscale