Sermon: Wednesday in Holy Week


As a kid growing up I was a Boy Scout. I don’t think I ever progressed much further than Second Class, but I really wasn’t in it to progress through the ranks. I was in for getting to do all the fun stuff: camping, canoeing down the rivers, jamborees, etc.

I recall one time we went somewhere – I think it was in Arkansas – where we had the opportunity to go on a guided spelunking trek through one of the caves. The guide was very much a comedian and clearly enjoyed his job. At one point he told us as we entered one of the larger caverns, not much bigger than this room, that if you placed your ear to the rock and listened closely you would hear music. Of course we all got quiet, placed our ears to the rock, and listened intently. After a minute with none of us hearing anything, he said, “Really? It’s called ‘hard rock’”. About half way through it came time to turn off all the lights so that we could experience absolute darkness. The darkness was perfect.

Just as there is a physical darkness, we also know that there is a spiritual darkness, and it is this spiritual darkness that Paul tells us we do battle against: “Our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) Therefore, Jesus tells us, “The light – referring to himself – is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going.  While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” (John 12:35-36a) And it is through Jesus, as Paul teaches us again, that we “are all children of light and children of the day.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5a)

Our Gospel tells us, “When Jesus had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’” (John 13:26b-27) Then, “after receiving the piece of bread, Judas immediately went out. And it was night.” (John 13:30) Just as I entered into that perfect physical darkness when the guide turned off the lights in the cave, Judas entered into perfect spiritual darkness when he left.

Later that evening, “Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.” (John 18:3) “They came there with lanterns and torches”—they came there in the dark and carried out the works of darkness, the works of the “spiritual forces of evil.”

For Judas, there was a threshold, both literally and spiritually, that he crossed when he went out. He intentionally stepped out of the light of the room where they were gathered and he intentionally stepped out of the Light of Christ. In a similar manner, he intentionally stepped into the darkness of physical and spiritual world, and he was lost.

For Judas and for us, the threshold between the light and the dark, is the place of testing, where we choose light or dark, and the biggest mistake we can make is to think there can be a compromise. “I won’t go so far into the night that I can’t see the threshold leading back into the light.” That’s like a woman saying she’s only a little bit pregnant. If you cross the threshold into the darkness, its like the lights going out in that cave, its perfect darkness and you will become lost. Therefore, walk in the light and believe in the light, so that you may remain children of light. This is God’s plan for us and through the guidance and strength of his Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we can be obedient.

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