The Hour of Darkness

The hour of darkness is upon us…

Three times Jesus awakened them—three times. His heart was breaking, his fears were mounting, and his knees were covered in the dirt of the garden floor. Three times he went to pray and pour out his soul in anguish to his Father… They went to sleep. God forgive us, are we not also unfocused and distracted.

The hour of darkness is upon us…

Peter stood at the fires in the courtyard of the high priest and three times denied his Lord, Jesus—three times. Submitting to a false court in a sham trial that was an outright mockery of justice, Jesus was saving the world. And in an outright mockery of faithfulness, Peter was saving his own tail. God forgive us, are we not also cowards and liars.

The hour of darkness is upon us…

Judas betrayed the hope of the world for 30 silver pieces. Only too late did he realize that he did for 30 silver pieces that for which they would have paid 3000. He betrayed his master and friend… with a kiss. Trusting God’s promise, Jesus hung on a cross forgiving the world its sins that put him there. Doubting God’s grace, Judas hung himself in a tree haunted by his demons. God forgive us, are we not also haunted by our demons and do we not also kiss you with our lips then betray you for our own gain.

The hour of darkness is upon us…

It was religious people who struck Jesus first. Driven by fear, they raised their hands in violence. Driven by love, my Jesus knelt in humility. Honoring falsehood as testimony, they condemned the truth itself. Making sure not to wander too far into the home of a Gentile, they kept ritual purity as they handed over an innocent man to be executed. Their voices shouted first for the release of a man who took life, as they demanded the death of the giver of life. God forgive us, are we not also violent and full of compromise when we should be full of the Spirit.

The hour of darkness is upon us…

Pilate has washed his hands. The magistrate found no guilt in him, but did not pardon him. Pilate chose to play politics, and in so doing he handed over the true King to die. God forgive us, are we not also addicted to popularity and often look no further than our own reputation.

The hour of darkness is upon us…

The soldiers have mocked my Lord, and beaten my Lord, and spit on my Lord. They placed a crown of thorns on his head and paraded him through the streets. They were just doing their jobs—it wasn’t personal. They were just following orders as they walked the King of Glory through the streets of shame and beat him down under the weight of his cross. God forgive us, are we not also often an unwitting part of so much systemic injustice and evil that we can’t tell the difference between doing our job and insulting our Lord.

The hour of darkness is upon us…

They played dice at the foot of the cross—gambling for his clothes. Jesus, the Savior of the world, is dying for them right above them, yet they are too busy playing games to notice. God forgive us, are we not guilty—some of us—of still playing games at the cross of Jesus.

The hour of darkness is upon us…

Even the criminals beside him have turned on him—as if some how they are better than him. They heap insults upon him and shame him. It is better to die a scoundrel with my own guilt than to bear the shame of this innocent man I helped kill. God forgive us, are we not also blind to our own culpability and sin.

The hour of darkness is upon us…

The apostles are hiding. His closest friends and his devoted followers—all of them save one were missing. Fearing for their lives, they hid. Saving their own skin, they hid. Not understanding what their teacher had told them over and over again, they were bewildered, confused, and afraid. God forgive us, are we not also guilty of letting our fear and confusion drive us away from where we belong.

The hour of darkness is upon us…

The sun has gone black. The light of the world has been extinguished and all that is left is night. The earth itself is shaking in furious upheaval. For nothing has come into existence that was not made by him—the author of all living things has been killed, and all living things shudder in revolt. The temple curtain is torn and the graves of the saints are empty because even in darkness the light will bear its witness. So we take heart even as…

The hour of darkness is upon us…

In the stillness and silence we hear no serpent in the grass for his head lay crushed beneath the foot of the one who would not want anything. Listen and hear nothing, for the great and terrible Accuser is silent. He is defeated. His tongue finds no words, his lies have no more power, his accusations find no purchase on the perfect life and wholehearted devotion of my Jesus. The great evil dragon who would conquer the world and overthrow God himself is humiliated and vanquished by the love and peace of a slaughtered lamb. Satan did his worst, but God’s best was even greater.

Here we gather at the cross, where the dearest and blest for a world of lost sinners was slain. Here we gather at the cross where in blessed backwardness the immeasurable one was held but did not resist. Here we gather at the cross and surrender ourselves to the great cost and greater joy of Good Friday. Here we gather at the cross and find that we are forgiven… that we are loved… that we are chosen… that we are victorious.

The hour of darkness is upon us… thank God.