by Steve Norton
“Don’t leave the room, Daddy. There’s a monster hiding in my closet.”
It’s a situation that is familiar to many of us. You’re putting your child to bed and they won’t settle. Despite all your assurances to the contrary, they remain convinced that something or someone is hiding in the shadows of their bedroom. Exhausted, you turn on the lights so that your child can see for themselves that there’s nothing to be afraid of and hope that this helps them to calm down and go to sleep.
There’s a mystery to darkness that often causes anxiety among people. Regardless of age, a fear of the unknown can grip anyone and set their imagination ablaze with the most horrible of scenarios. The quiet becomes deafening and the shadows, menacing. In these moments, light becomes a source for hope. Surrounded by the night, many will cling to the smallest flicker of a flame for comfort.
And yet, sometimes, there are people that have been in darkness for so long, they fear the light.
As we continue forward in this season of Lent, we find ourselves in the midst of this tension between light and dark. Moving towards Good Friday, we become increasingly attentive to the darkness that builds in the distance (not to mention, within ourselves) yet also prepare for the light of hope that follows. Jesus was keenly aware of this contrast, constantly reminding the Disciples of what is to come.
“Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world,” he states honestly.
Focusing on the presence of his light, Jesus’ ministry was based on the premise that his truth could cut through the shadows and reveal God’s hope for humanity. An interesting example of this tension comes in John 9 as Jesus pauses to heal a man who was born blind. Placing mud on the man’s eyes and instructing him to wash in the Pool of Siloam, the man immediately rejoices and begins to share his story with those around him. However, his excitement causes such a disturbance that he is immediately brought before the Pharisees in order to explain what has happened. (In fact, the Pharisees were so stunned by these events, that they even drag his parents into the Sanhedrin to confirm his identity!)
However, in the midst of this moment, we bear witness to a much more significant conversation at play. Although their confrontation appears to focus on the matter of the man’s healing, the Pharisees are far more interested in the identity of Jesus. Passionately arguing that Jesus could not be who the man claims him to be, the Pharisees reveal their own spiritual blindness through their inability to see and celebrate the work of God that’s taking place right in front of them. In other words, whereas the (formerly) blind man both experiences and accepts Jesus as the Son of God, the Pharisees deny themselves that opportunity by their lack of faith.
In some ways, I admit that it’s hard to fully blame the Pharisees for their disbelief. Although they would have known all the prophesies about the coming Messiah as teachers of the law, it is often another issue entirely to accept the fact that He has arrived (and not in the manner that you expected). However, because of the hardness of their hearts, they also reveal themselves as the ones who are truly blind to the reality of God’s Kingdom. While the blind man celebrates his newfound sight at the hands of the present Messiah, the Pharisees are left stunted by their lack of vision.
As we journey in this Lenten season, this conversation about the identity of Christ should lie close to our hearts as we grapple with the significance of the Cross. In moments of darkness such as these, we yearn for the light of Christ to shine brightly so that we too might experience the hope that He offers. Although there are those who refuse to see Jesus as Lord, our desire to embrace Him brings healing into our lives and opens our eyes to His truth and glory.
In doing so, this light also destroys those pesky monsters once and for all.