Flash back to your childhood, were you one of those kids who were afraid of the dark? Maybe your parents tucked you in, or as you got older they sent you to bed, either way though…lights out, go to sleep. Hopefully you had parents who didn’t blame you but were compassionate and helped you through it. Any normal person would understand, yes, anyone can forgive a child who is afraid of the dark, as if it was some kind of offense in the first place. Nobody blames the kid.
Our quote for today is not a Bible quote, it’s a quote from the famous philospher Plato. He said:
“We can forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” – Plato (428-c. 347 BC)
Although Plato was a pagan, this quote has a strong Christian message – sometimes we find God’s truth in unlikely places. His application of this metaphor was to illustrate his passion for learning. Plato placed great value in study and learning and likened the “dark” and the “light” to ignorance and knowledge. Similarly the scriptures use “dark” and “light” as types for evil and good. My favorite example of this is in the Gospel of John.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” – John 1:1-5 KJV
This is exactly the same concept, howbeit not spiritual, that Plato was trying to illustrate. In Plato’s world, and in his mind, the tragedy is when men are afraid of the light. The thought that someone would prefer to live a life in ignorance, rather than be illuminated by the light of knowledge, was absolutely tragic.
The Apostle John opens up his gospel with the same sense of tragedy for those who do not accept the Life and the Light of the world, Jesus Christ. He opens with the divinity of Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, and describes Him as the Light that shines in the darkness. That darkness is a representation of the wicked, and the wicked did not comprehend the Light. The key to understanding this tragedy is in the understanding of the meaning of “comprehended it not”.
The word translated from the original Greek to “comprehended” is katalambanō (καταλαμβάνω) which means: to lay hold of so as to make one’s own, to seize upon, or take possession of. You see, the tragedy is not that there are some that do not understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the tragedy is that there are those who refuse to accept the Gospel.
We can forgive a child or anyone who, through immature ignorance, is afraid because of the dark. The real tragedy is when the Light shines among men as a free gift, and men refuse to lay hold of the Gift to make it their own.
What is your favorite “light” versus “dark” Bible verse? Please share.