When Darkness Reigns
Text: Luke 22:39-23:56
One of the dimensions that I love about Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of Christ” (though there are several aspects I don’t like at all) is the sense of darkness that pervades the first quarter of the movie. He captures the mood, but not only the mood—he captures the reign of darkness on that Friday.
Darkness begins and ends Luke’s account of “Good Friday.” As the temple guards, elders and chief priests arrest Jesus in the garden, Jesus announces, “this is your hour—when darkness reigns” (Luke 22:52). Darkness reigned till Jesus breathed his last, and Jesus died in darkness as God blocked the sun (Luke 22:44). Good Friday was a dark day epitomizing the darkness that enveloped the world; symbolizing the darkness that has choked the world since the Fall. Good Friday, however, was the hour of evil’s triumph. On that day Satan’s reign tyrannized the Son of God.
Luke’s narrative draws out that dark reign through the events that transpire. His story tells us what happens when darkness reigns.
When darkness reigns….
• Good people fail to pray
• Friends betray friends
• Swords are drawn
• Disciples deny their teacher
• The innocent are convicted
• The guilty are released
• The law is subverted for interests of power and control
• The righteous are mocked
• Women weep over the loss of their children
• Soldiers demean and torture others
• The condemned insult each other
• The blameless are executed
Luke paints a dark scene from the garden to the cross. But his canvass has rays of light. The dawning sun breaks into the darkness, just as he announced at the beginning of his gospel (Luke 1:78-79).
The kingdom of God is dawning and breaking into the darkness. Even when darkness reigns, the kingdom of God cannot be smothered and snuffed out. Light appears even within the darkness.
Even though darkness reigns….
• Kingdom people refuse to use the sword even when threatened; Jesus said “No more of this!”
• Kingdom people pursue the will of God despite the consequences; Jesus said, “yet not my will, but yours be done.”
• Kingdom people confidently anticipate the fulfillment of kingdom in hope; Jesus says, “the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
• Kingdom people weep for the brokenness of the world rather than over their own suffering for the sake of the kingdom; Jesus said, “do no weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.”
• Kingdom people forgive their persecutors; Jesus said, “Father, forgive them.”
• Kingdom people invite others into the kingdom; Jesus said, “today you will be with me in paradise.”
• Kingdom people trust in God’s work despite the reign of darkness; Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
Kingdom people follow Jesus. They, like Simon from Cyrene, pick up the cross and follow Jesus. Kingdom people assault the powers of darkness by submitting to the will of God and trusting in the promise of the coming kingdom. Kingdom people follow Jesus.
Darkness reigned on Good Friday, but the kingdom of God also broke into that darkness. Even as darkness reigns in our day—in whatever way it reigns, as kingdom people we are called to follow Jesus….and it may take us to a cross.
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”