They could not comprehend it

Published 3:14 pm Sunday, January 14, 2024

“In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. … He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” — John 1:1-5, 10-11


As we read this passage, there are questions that beg to be answered. What is meant by “did not comprehend it”? How did they not know Him? Why did His own not receive Him?

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To answer the first question, we must understand the meaning of the Greek word “katalambano,” here translated as comprehend. Among the several alternate definitions are: “to take eagerly, i.e. seize, possess, etc. apprehend, attain, overcome…” With this in mind, we find that those who lived in darkness (the darkness of unbelief) were not able to overcome the light that shone around them. They were not able to understand, because they were not willing to allow their darkness to be penetrated by the Light. Since they could not control the light, those who live in darkness sought (then and now) ways to prevent the Light from piercing their darkness. They, then and now, closed their eyes making themselves blind to the Truth.

How could they not know that this Light was the Messiah, Jesus Himself? The Prophets of Israel and Judah had spoken for centuries about His birth. Those who studied the scriptures had every opportunity to know, and to share this knowledge. The Jewish world was without excuse in their ignorance.

His own did not receive Him. What a tragic situation, tragic for the Jewish people because their own Son was given them for their salvation, and they rejected Him in favor of the Law of Moses. Preferring instead to choose this Law that they had never been able to keep, nor could they ever. Rejecting God’s grace and mercy that was personified in the Christ Jesus.

We should not be too harsh on the Jews of that day; we are equally guilty of preferring our own “law” of works, over the salvation by grace through faith offered by Jesus.

The Rev. Bobby Thornhill is a retired pastor.