"The true light which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. " ~John 1:9-10 It is Holy Week, the week commemorating Jesus' march to the cross. I reflect on his story, his sacrifice, and if I'm honest, sometimes I do not understand it all.
Last night, we watched a television rendering of The Bible, watched as Samson brought the house down on the Philistines. The voice-over narration said that God had used Samson to fulfill his promise to the Israelites, to free them from the violence of the Philistines. Isaac turned to Amber, whispered, "mama, why did God have to kill all those Philistines? Why couldn't he have just made them a promise, too?" Amber paused over the question, then mustered, "it's the way God's glory was most shown. But to be honest, buddy, sometimes I don't understand it all either."
It's the genuine question, the honest struggle that begs a genuine answer. Often our attempts to answer these questions lead only to more questions; quandary leads to quandary. But as sure as there are questions, there is the true Light which enlightens.
If only we will let it.
"He came to his own and his own people did not receive him." ~John 1:11
Questions find their answers in the true Light, the Light that exposes the dark places in Jew and Philistine alike, in us. He came to bring the light first to his brothers, to his kin who were the enslaved of Rome. They'd lit candles of their own making, though, and had no need for further illumination. Theirs comfort was in the types and shadows they'd always known.
So they tried to snuff him out.
"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." ~John 1:12-13
He came into the darkest, back-woodsest, most hopelessly enslaved province in the world. He came as a light, first, to the low people, the shepherds, and later to the lepers, harlots, and children. He came to the powerful and rich too, came to reform their hearts. He shared his light with Zacchaeus, the wee-little tax collector. He reached out to Nicodemus one dark midnight. He blinded Paul, the Pharisee of Pharisees, on the road to Damascus.
Some of them received him, by God, and they are the founding fathers of the faith. They came with their own questions, their own doubts, and their own struggles. But they received him, nonetheless. They believed and became children.
As we move through Holy Week, I'd like to ask a series of questions. These are more for me than anything, but I thought I might share them with you, too.
Question: How do we actively receive him today? How do we allow his light to illuminate us in the modern context?
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Cover photo by fusions-of-horizons via Creative Commons.