Let There Be Light, Again

Let There Be Light, Again

The way the Gospel of Mark tells the story of the crucifixion, Jesus has nothing eloquent to say in his final moments, nothing like, “Into your hands I commit my spirit” or “It is finished.” The way Mark tells the story, Jesus’ final moments include only him screaming and then dying (Mark 15:37). We’re meant to witness the complete agony and complete despair that Jesus is experiencing on this day. Mark wants us to know how miserable Jesus is, and to know that Jerusalem’s high priests, and the Roman government have done their worst to the Son of God. Human sin and brokenness have done their worst. And when the whole world has done its worst, the earth itself, the sky itself, creation itself reacts. Starting at noon and going for about three hours until the last minutes of Jesus’ life, the sun disappears, the sky goes dark, and darkness covers the whole earth (15:33). Some translations tell us that darkness covers the “whole land.” But the Greek word behind “land” is the same word for “earth,” and I get the sense that something is happening here that encompasses more than just a portion of real estate. The light went out, all of it. It’s in John’s Gospel that Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” Mark tells us in his own way that Jesus is the light of the world by turning off the heavenly lights for three hours while the last ounces of life are suffocated out of Jesus.

The earth goes dark for three hours because Israel’s leaders, and because the Roman government, and because human sin did the darkest thing possible – we killed our own savior. The earth goes dark for three hours because creation is being rolled back. We’re reading Genesis 1 in reverse. Instead of light being spoken into existence by the Creator, light is retreating back into the nothingness that existed before. Creation itself is reacting to the depths of human wickedness. Creation is mourning the loss of its own light. The prophets Jeremiah (4:23-28) and Amos (8:9) said this kind of thing would happen when human injustice and corruption reach their peak.

But even though the darkest possible thing happened, Jesus would not be constrained by it. He is risen. And Mark is practically winking at us when he tells us in his account of the resurrection that just as Jesus was raised, so was the sun (Mark 16:2). Now, Mark tells us this is all happening early in the morning, and of course we know that morning is when the sun rises. But Mark makes a point anyway to tell us that the sun has just risen, as if the new resurrected life of Jesus has given the sun new courage to start peaking its head up again. When Jesus died, the light went out, and now it is back, reemerging into creation. We’re no longer reading Genesis 1 in reverse. When Jesus is raised from the dead, God is saying once again, “Let there be light.” A new creation is walking out of the tomb and being spoken into existence. No amount of darkness, no amount of un-creation, could actually overcome the God who speaks light into existence and raises the dead.

Mark mentions the sunrise to tell us in his beautifully subtle way that Jesus has made us new. We belong to a completely new reality. We exist and live and walk in a new creation. Do we feel new, church? We should. You and I are defined by absolutely nothing and no one but the one who entered the darkest darkness, into the deepest depths of human suffering, into death and walked right out of it. That’s who defines us, church. He’s the only one who gets to tell us who we are, what we are, and what our reality really looks like.


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