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LIGHT CONQUERS DARKNESS - A thought from Revd Paul Lanham


Whenever I read St. John's account of the Last Supper I am struck by those words as Judas Iscariot leaves the room to betray Christ - 'And it was night'.  There can be so few words with so much meaning.  The darkness is physical but it is full of tragedy and menace.  There is the darkness of the disciples who feel the atmosphere of impending tragedy but cannot understand what is going on.  Then there is the darkness of Jesus facing Gethsemane - the realization of what lies ahead and how He can resist that ultimate temptation there before the final journey to Calvary.  Then there is the darkness of Judas Iscariot who I am sure is a far more complex figure than he appears in the Gospels.  'And it was night';  you can feel the dark evening air as the figure hurries out of the room, a robe around him, the moonlight casting eerie shadows.

If I am fascinated by Judas then I am also fascinated by the crowd in the days before the crucifixion.  We see them crying out for Jesus as King when He enters Jerusalem on a donkey - yet within a week they are baying for His blood.  If ever there were an example of mass hysteria this is it, but there is also evil reflected in their change of heart.  The priests achieve their evil ends by manipulating the mob but they need the mob - and the mob plays a part with the priests by forcing Pilate to condemn Christ.  They surely represent a hypocrisy that is breath-taking.  I know that this is an over-simplification of the events that week but it stares us in the face and makes the crowd as guilty as the priests and Pilate in what happened at Golgotha.  So to look at that period is to see both a tragedy but also a reflection of so much darkness, so much evil, so much of the image of fallen man.  The cumulative darkness and the cumulative evil become focussed on an innocent Man hanging from a cross, God made man.  It is indeed night in those 24 terrible hours.

And yet darkness is only darkness if it is seen in the context of light, for without darkness there cannot be light.  This is what April means in 2022.  For death is followed by resurrection and without resurrection there cannot first be crucifixion.  This theme is in the first few words of the Bible as light emerges from darkness, just as in the physical sense the dawn follows the night, and winter changes to spring.  At the heart of Christ's death and resurrection is the contrast between the two themes and the victory of the one over the other.  Light conquers darkness.  Healing binds up wounds.  Love overcomes hatred.  Life conquers death.  These things, what's more, are eternal, that love, light and life are all conquering, they will always reign.  This is what this month is all about.  This lies at the heart of the Easter message of hope. 

                                                Wishing you all a Happy Easter - Paul Lanham

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