Jesus is the Light of men.
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
John’s exposition of creation continues. He makes the obvious connection that since Jesus made everything, he must have life in him. There are a few meanings that run through the use of this idea.
First, is the meaning of physical life. Jesus, by making all things, brought physical life to all things that are living. Second, Jesus is the keeper of life so that all things that are living must be sustained by him. Third, which happens to be the insertion that I believe John is wanting to convey, the spiritual life is in him as well. In Him was life, both physical and spiritual, anything that exists exists because of Him.
To John, it made since to appeal to the time before physical life began in order to show that spiritual life has the same roots – in the Word of God; namely, in Jesus. This appeal seems downright obvious, that anyone who ponders the cosmos should conclude the same. Yet this is not true.
John continues the progression. In Christ is the life of all things – both physical and spiritual. And the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
I love the subtlety here. The word was is not referring to the time before time. Now it refers to a more recent time – when Jesus lived and dwelled among humankind. Notice that the darkness did not comprehend it. Comprehension is an ability of man. Thus, John is calling mankind (or at least those who rejected Jesus) as the darkness – if not literally, then metaphorically.
The truth of the matter is that all men should have recognized the one called Jesus who made all things and keeps all things living. It should have been obvious that God was walking among us since he made it so plain. We should have seen that Jesus was God incarnate – the giver of life physical and spiritual. But because of our darkened hearts, we saw not.
This is John’s picture of the incarnate Christ. The one who brought life to mankind – a second time.