A Dark Night

Exodus 12:1-4, 11-14
John 13:1-17, 31b – 35

Some nights are darker than others.

Imagine the night of the last supper.  Jesus knows what the disciples do not:  “the hour had come” (John 13:1).  He sits around the table with his 12 closest friends, knowing that one is about to betray him, and 9 more will lose their nerve in the garden, and even Peter would break before the rooster announced the new day.


Jacopo Tintoretto, Last Supper (1592-1594)

Jesus knows all this as he sits and eats his last meal with the disciples.  In John it’s a meal “before the Passover,” but in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the last supper *is* the Passover meal.  Either way, the Passover must have been on his mind.


Which was another especially dark night.

The Israelites had been in hard slavery for years.  The Egyptian king was cruel in how he treated them, from the adults making bricks out of straw all the way down to the newborn baby boys.  Israel cried out.  God heard them.  God acted through Moses.

Nine show-downs between Israel and Egypt have taken place already.  Nine times God has sent a plague on Pharaoh and his people.  But nine times Pharaoh’s heart has been stubborn.  Nine times he has refused to let the people go.

On the night of the Passover, the tenth plague will deal its final, awful blow.

The shadow of death is coming.  The Israelites must be ready.  They kill lambs and paint the blood on their doorframes.  They lie down but they don’t sleep.  They wait.  Tomorrow will bring escape; tomorrow will bring freedom.  But tonight…

…tonight is dark.

Tonight is suffering.  Tonight is pain.

Tonight will be a long night, keeping watch and waiting.

Some nights are darker than others.  Like the first Passover.  Like the night Jesus shared one last meal with his disciples.  Like the dark nights you’ve experienced:  nights where we want the escape of sleep but it will not come, nights where any shadow might be cover for some evil force, nights where our fears want to feed off our doubts and become paranoia.

Those kinds of nights will try to suck all the light out of the world.

 Try… but not succeed.

As John so eloquently put it, much earlier in his gospel:  “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

After the Passover came new life through a miraculous parting of the Sea.  After the last supper, after the crucifixion, came new life through the miracle of the Resurrection.  And after your dark night will come the morning.

So tonight we sit and watch with Christ.  We sit in this dark night and we know that no night is dark enough to defeat the light of Christ.

The light of Christ will always find a way to shine.


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