“So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he (Judas) immediately went out. And it was night.” John 13:30
“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdelene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark…” John 20:1
In John’s narrative, between John 13:30, when Judas departed to betray Jesus, and John 20:1 on what we now call Easter morning, it had been a long dark night.
Of course, the sun rose on Friday morning after Judas’ betrayal of Jesus and it rose again on Saturday morning. But spiritually speaking, it was as dark as dark could be. It was a long night.
John is a brilliant writer, nothing in his gospel is of insignificance. Note for example that the Bread of Life was offering Life to Judas, but Judas only partook of a “small morsel of bread and he immediately went out.” Judas did not partake fully of Jesus and then left his company. John’s observations are astute.
For John, Maundy Thursday night to Easter morning was one long night. It was a very dark time.
There are periods in our life when life is dark. The sun rises, but it’s light does not seem to penetrate our night. St. John of the Cross’ description of “the dark night of the soul” is an apt description. Whether you agree theologically with St. John of the Cross or not, we all go through dark times in life.
Some of us find ourselves living in dark environs. Spiritual forces of darkness have existed uncontested for extensive periods of time. Small lights begin to pierce that darkness as a church gathers, yet the darkness will push back.
What darkness do you find yourself in? Does your night have a name?
John does not mention any light in the remainder of chapter 20. But the words “saw” and “seen” is circled 13 times in my ESV Bible. It may have been dark, but a new sight is being granted to those who believe.
Jesus and Thomas have their famous post-resurrection interaction. Jesus makes this most encouraging comment: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29 ESV).”
Thomas would not believe until he saw Jesus for himself. However, John is writing his gospel narrative decades later to people who have not had that privileged opportunity to physically see the resurrected Jesus. So John makes it clear that it is possible to believe without a physical sighting of Jesus. Indeed, Jesus pronounces a special blessing on those of us who have yet to seen him yet believe.
In your night, do you believe him? Faith grants us a sight that no darkness can blind.
Peter in his first letter, writing to a deeply persecuted church, recalled Jesus’ words when he wrote:
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV).”
Job, thousands of years before there was the dark night of our Savior’s death made this bold faith statement:
“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27 NIV).”
Your Sight in Darkness
May God grant you eyes in the darkness of any spiritual night you find yourself in.
May you in his grace partake of the Bread of Life and not merely a small morsel.
May he grant you a growing yearning to see him one day.
Jesus conquered death, he can conquer anything you are facing today. He is Risen.