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Jesus is a light in the darkness, showing the way

BY PASTOR BRANDON YOUNG
I hope each of you had a wonderful celebration of our Lord’s resurrection this past weekend. I love how we see something new each time we read a familiar passage of scripture.
While studying for Sunday’s message, one certain phrase stood out to me in John’s account of the resurrection. John 20:1-8 says this, “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. 9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.”
The phrase “when it was yet dark” spoke volumes to me! Mary Magdalene made her way to the tomb while it was still dark. I would assume that John wanted the readers to know the time of the day that Mary made her way to the tomb, but maybe there was more to this statement. Maybe he was describing the spiritual darkness that had come upon the face of the earth after the death of Jesus. It seemed that all hope was lost. Jesus says in John 9:4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Jesus states that while he is in the world he is the light of the world, but once he leaves that night would come. The followers of Christ surely felt that darkness immediately after Jesus commended His spirit into the Father’s hand. Hopelessness and fear overwhelmed them! Mary Magdalene made her way to the tomb of her Lord to comfort herself by anointing the body of Jesus. We go to the graves of our loved ones to bring comfort to ourselves. We cannot do anything to assist the dead. Mary could not do anything else to help her Lord, but she still wanted to be near him. Mark 16:3 says, “And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?”
Mary did not even know if they would be able to move the stone from the door, but she was willing to stand near a cold stone to be near the one that had changed her life. Luke 8:1-3 says, “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils.”
I can’t imagine being possessed by one demon, and I certainly wouldn’t want seven of them. Mary’s life had been destroyed by these demons that drove her. Mary knew the terrifying power of spiritual enslavement, and the exhilarating freedom of following Christ. Her admiration and love grew exponentially for Jesus every moment she was near him!
When the men in that company abandoned him at the hour of mortal danger, Mary stayed with him, even to the Crucifixion. She was present at the tomb, the first person to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection and the first to preach the “Good News” of that miracle. It is difficult to imagine what she was feeling, and I am certain she could not sleep after what she had witnessed. So while it was still dark, she made her way to the tomb to bring a bit of comfort to her own soul. We are living in dark times and hatred, anger, and evil are in full force. Although it is difficult to work in darkness, we must do our best to shine the light of Christ in this dismal world. Ephesians 5:8 says, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: walk as children of light:” 1 Thessalonians 5:5 says, “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” Mary was unable to help Jesus, but we must realize that in the darkness we can still help our Lord. Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Mary was unable to help Jesus, but we must realize that in the darkness we can still help our Lord. Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” We must choose to reach out and comfort others in this extreme darkness and shine the light of God upon those loving in the darkness of discouragement, doubt, and distress. We must be a light in the darkness!
(Brandon Young is pastor of the Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton.)