by Maria Rudolph
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As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night (John 13:30).
Before Easter, Disney paraphernalia is popular to buy as gifts. Whether it’s Aladdin, Snow White or Encanto, they all have the strategic use of darkness and light in common. When the good characters are on screen, the weather is sunny. When the bad characters turn up, clouds appear, even thunderstorms and gusts of wind, and the colours become dark. Shadows appear. Once the good ones win, sun or brightly twinkling stars come up. Many authors and filmmakers use this approach.
Darkness and light are found all through the Bible. In the beginning, there was chaos, and everything was in complete darkness. Then God spoke the light into existence and ordered the chaos. A bright pillar of fire broke through the night to guide the Israelites on the way to the Promised Land. Isaiah prophesied a great light to the people walking in darkness (Isaiah 9:2). A bright star announced the birth of Jesus Christ, who said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life’ (John 8:12). And the New Jerusalem ‘does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light and the Lamb is its lamp’ (Revelation 21:23).
Darkness is sin, death and destruction. Psalm 23 has a person walking ‘through the valley of the shadow of death’. Shadows mean threat and evil, but God protects and defends. When Jesus, the Light of the World, hung on the cross for us, ‘darkness covered the whole land’ (Mark 15:33) for three hours. When Judas was getting ready to betray Jesus and left the upper room during the Last Supper, it ‘was night’ (John 13:30). Jesus’ agonising time of trial, beatings and crucifixion was about to begin, and darkness spread itself out. Darkness is the reason Jesus was crucified because of the evil, sin and guilt of humanity. But the Light of Life breaks through that darkness. ‘In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it’ (John 1:5).
In the power of the Holy Spirit, hold onto the hope handed to you on the day of your baptism with the candle you may have received symbolically. ‘You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before all people, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:14,16). The Light of the World died for you. When you light a new Pascal (Easter) candle in church again on Easter Sunday, rejoice that the Light of the World has overcome death, hell and the devil forevermore.
Can you recall a time the light of Christ broke through the darkness for you?
Jesus, Light of the World, you illuminate even the darkest corner within me and in the world around me. You expose all deeds of darkness. Forgive me, renew me, restore me, restore this world, heal our church and the world around us with your Light of Life, starting with me as I journey to the cross with you this Easter. Amen.