Genesis 1:1-51. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (NASB)
John 1:1-51. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2. He was in the beginning with God. 3. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (NASB)
There is an amazing symmetry in the Bible. One of my favorite examples is how the author of Genesis and the apostle John each begin their respective accounts, “In the beginning.” Good place to start, the beginning. And each writer jumps right in to deal with a theme that has fascinated us since the beginning, light and dark; good and evil; life and death. That theme has been at the core of some of our finest works of fiction, from the earliest stories told around campfires to today’s multi-million dollar, special effects laden blockbuster movies. And it’s a theme we each deal with in our own lives, the choice between light and dark, good and evil.
The author of Genesis hints at an outcome, God calling the light “good” and separating the light from the darkness. John’s foreshadowing is a little heavier handed. The light springs from the life that resides in the Word. (Later in the account John equates the light with the Word.) In verse 5 John gives us a big hint as to how this whole light vs. dark thing is going to end, “the darkness did not comprehend it (the Light).”
The Greek word translated here as “comprehend” is “katalambano”. It can mean both understand and overpower or seize or master. In these few verses we have the setting for the ultimate story of light and dark, good and evil. And we get an inkling of how it will be resolved. The Light will not be understood or overtaken by the dark. And so we see that the Christmas story, at its core, is the story of good vs. evil and our own need for the life we can find only in the light.