The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Matthew’s gospel tells us that on Good Friday darkness overwhelmed the land. The light that had burned so brightly in Jesus, the light symbolized by the Bethlehem star, had been extinguished.
Darkness and despair filled the hearts of Jesus’ disciples following Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Their teacher and friend was dead. Grief stricken and fearful for their safety they gathered in secret behind locked doors.
And then, it happened. Reports of Jesus’ resurrection filtered through the community. At first the disciples were incredulous. In Luke’s gospel, the disciples dismiss the report of Jesus’ empty tomb as “an idle tale.” But as more and more witnesses came forward with stories of the risen Christ fear and skepticism gave way to faith and trust.
Christ is risen! The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it!
We all experience moments when the darkness threatens to overwhelm us. Job loss, failing health, the death of a loved one, captivity to an addiction—any one of these experiences can fill us with despair. These moments of darkness in our lives, the experience of God’s seeming absence, are very real. Do not hesitate to acknowledge the pain and uncertainty of these times. Even Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
But darkness does not have the last word. Easter is the affirmation that darkness does not overcome the light. The resurrection of Jesus is God’s pledge to us that despair can give way to hope, sorrow can be replaced by joy, and that out of death can come new life.
One of my favorite writers, Ann Weems, puts it this way in a poem called Easter.
Just when I thought
there would be no more light
in the Jerusalem sky,
the Bright and Morning Star
and the darkness has not overcome it.
Christ is risen! Easter blessings to you all!
The poem “Easter” is From Kneeling in Jerusalem. © 1992 Ann Barr Weems. Used by permission of Westminster John Knox Press. www.wjkbooks.com