During the last meal Jesus ate with His disciples before the crucifixion, He predicted that the disciple to whom he gave a piece of bread would betray Him. We know, of course, that it was Judas. In describing the scene, John records a detail that isn’t in the other accounts. He writes, “As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.” (John 13:30 NIV)
I want to call your attention to the phrase, “And it was night.” I think John meant a whole lot more than the fact that the sun had already gone down by the time Judas left the meal. Scripture uses the terms “night” and “darkness” as metaphors for sin, evil and corruption. Evil triumphed as Judas left. John says that Satan had already entered into him (John 13:27).
Judas wasn’t the only one who gave himself to the dark. Later that same night, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus confronted another group. Luke 22:52-53 says, “Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour – when darkness reigns.”” (NIV)
If we are honest with ourselves, it often looks like darkness reigns in our lives as well. We struggle with habits we can’t seem to break. Temptation overcomes us. We lose our tempers or allow our thoughts to travel down forbidden paths. We fight depression or despair. It seems that darkness overwhelms us.
When Jesus was crucified and buried it certainly looked like night had fallen and the darkness had won. Fortunately, that is not the end of the story. In speaking of Jesus, John writes, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:4-5 NIV) That phrase, “the darkness has not understood it” can also be translated “the darkness has not overcome it.”
Yes, the darkness reigned for a little while. They killed the “light of the world”, but on the third day, the light dawned again. Jesus didn’t just die, He rose again!
Each Sunday we gather together to remember the time when it was night and darkness reigned. But more than that, we gather to remember that Jesus overcame the darkness. Because of Him, we, too, can live in the light. Darkness does not have to reign in us. In Ephesians 5:8-11 Paul writes, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (NIV)
Today as we eat the bread and drink the juice which remind us of the price Jesus paid to overcome the darkness, let’s examine ourselves. Does darkness still reign in us, or are we living in the light?