Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Vision (8.5.14): The Power of Darkness

Note:  Here some notes to the conclusion of last Sunday morning’s sermon, focusing on Luke 22:53b.

Finally, Jesus declares to those who came to arrest him, “but this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (v. 53b).

The phrase “the hour” does not refer to chronological time but to kairos time.  Earlier in his ministry, Jesus could say at the wedding in Cana of Galilee:  “Mine hour is not yet come” (John 2:4).   Now, he says to those arresting him, it is your hour, your moment, to take me to the cross.  It is the time for the power of darkness to be manifested.  The Messiah must be crucified.  The wrath of God must be poured out.  Without the shedding of blood there is no redemption; there is no restoration.

But Jesus also knew that after the power of darkness would not prevail, in the end, over the power of light.  The hour when evil triumphs will be followed by the hour when God triumphs, the hour when God has the victory in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  In the High Priestly Prayer, Jesus says: “Father, the hour is come:  glorify they Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee” (John 17:2).

I have had interest in the impact of Jesus on our culture and society.  It is an impact I often try to emphasize with college students when teaching course on The Life and Teaching of Jesus.  Along these lines, I recently finished an interesting book by Baylor University sociologist and author Rodney Stark titled, The Victory of Reason:  How Christianity led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (Random House, 2005).

The book’s conclusion begins with this paragraph:

Christianity created Western Civilization. Had the followers of Jesus remained an obscure Jewish sect, most of you would not have learned to read and the rest of you would be reading from hand-copied scrolls.  Without a theology committed to reason, progress, and moral equality, today the entire modern world would be about where non-European societies were in, say, 1800:  A world with many astrologers and alchemists but no scientists.  A world of despots, lacking universities, banks, factories, eyeglasses, chimneys, and pianos.  A world where most infants do not live to the age of five and many women die in childbirth—a world truly living in the “dark ages” (p. 233).

I think Stark is right in his analysis, but it fails to consider an even worse hypothetical.  If Christ has not come and the gospel not been heralded, our problems would have been far greater than our material, cultural, or political state.  It would have been far worse than not having universities, banks, and eyeglasses.  Had Christ not come and the gospel not been heralded, we would still be living in the spiritual dark ages, under the power of darkness.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

No comments: