Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Second Darkness

In the beginning, there was darkness, waiting for God to speak. This is the beginning of the framework by which we can approach darkness in our fallen world, but let's be real: this isn't the beginning for us. 

It's somewhere in the middle.

That's fair. So let's flip somewhere to the middle, then, and see what happens with darkness when the story is already unfolding. Here, we go to the ends of the gospels. 

Jesus has been crucified, and a small crowd has gathered to watch Him die. Their hopes and dreams, the investments they've made in this seeming Messiah, all the risks they've taken and sacrifices they've made are hanging there on the Cross, just on the edge of town. And it's not looking good. Jesus is about to die.

At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.

Around noon darkness came over the entire land and lasted until three in the afternoon. 

In other words, in case you missed it, at one of the most crucial moments in all of history, there was darkness. And God was right there! I mean, He was right there in two forms - in the form of the Father who is always present, the same God who first spoke light into the formless and void and in the form of the Son who had been immanent in Jerusalem for thirty-some years, the Son Who John tells us was the light. God is present in (at least) two powerful forms; there is no reason why there ought to be darkness.

And then, in the darkness, God speaks. Jesus gives voice to our greatest agony.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Notice that what Jesus speaks here is a question, not a statement. He's not accusing God of having forsaken Him. He's not declaring that God truly forsook Him. He's not making a judgment about God's goodness based on the lack of closeness that He feels in this particular moment. He's asking a question.

And He's asking a question because He knows, He's known since in the beginning, that darkness is just waiting on God to speak. This question is His invitation to the Father to say something. 

The question assumes that God is present. Even when Jesus cries out in Luke's version, Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit, there's an assumption that God is present. He's right there in the darkness, just the way that He has always been. He's poised, ready to speak, waiting for the right moment. In the darkness, He's given the invitation. Speak, Father. Why?

And then, a voice. It's not a voice from Heaven, not the thundering boom we're always looking for, but it's the voice of God nonetheless, spoken through the witness of the Roman guard - Surely this...surely this was the Son of God.

Once again, truth is spoken into darkness, and it makes something of it. It's a powerful statement about who God is. Just as the light was powerful in the darkness, so life is powerful in death. And all of a sudden, we realize that darkness was, once more, the stage. It was a space waiting for God to speak. And He did.  

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