Into Darkness

Text: John 19:1-42

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Tonight we practice.  Yes, tonight we practice and rehearse going into the darkness. No, tonight is not some sort of funeral rehearsal for Jesus.  His funeral was long ago and far away.  However, your funeral is not so far away.   Tonight you are here; tomorrow, you may not be here.  The darkness of death will surely come for you.  It may even be stretching its icy shadows upon you right now.  And so, tonight we practice going into the darkness.  

But what exactly is meant when we say that we are practicing?  

Dear friends, simply stated the darkness that you will enter into is the same darkness that Jesus entered into that Friday long ago.  So looking into the darkness of Mt. Calvary is beholding your darkness.

You see, this darkness of death was let loose into this world by us human beings.  While we may point a finger at Adam and Eve for biting into death through that forbidden fruit in the garden, death is nonetheless still a problem to us all.  You see, we all invited it.  And once we let this darkness of death loose into this world, we became powerless to put it back.  And as we know, this darkness of death chomps down on us all.  Sometimes it takes a giant gulp, and other times it nibbles away at us.  

To make things worse, when this darkness of death grows bigger and bigger in our lives – when it takes a big bite out of us and we find ourselves laid up in the hospital, another darkness seems to come out of the shadows as well. That darkness is the memory of sin.  Never forget that all sin is death in hiding and all death is sin made visible.   So when death begins laying its hands upon you, not only does the darkness of death go to work on your body but the darkness of death found in sin begins attacking your conscience.  For example, Satan, who rules the darkness of this world, whispers to you from the darkness, 

Remember that time when you did this?  Remember when you failed to do that?  Remember that one sin that you did that nobody else saw?

And like so many others, we remember those sins like they were yesterday.  And the Devil to make things even worse, will say, 

Enjoy your death for you are getting what you deserve.  

Yes, there is a struggle with the darkness of death.  However, as it was mentioned at the beginning of the sermon, we are practicing tonight.   We are practicing going into the darkness of death.  

But again, what do we exactly mean by practicing? 

Dear friends, tonight, everything has been stripped away from your eyes and ears.  There are no alleluias in the service, no Gloria, no Creed, and no Songs of Praise.  There are no decorations, no white paraments, no lilies, and no banners.  You are just left with the darkness of the cross.  And that is intentional.  There should be no room for you this evening to skirt around the bloody cross of Mt. Calvary.  There should be no detour around the cross.  You are stuck this evening with a dark cross and a bleeding man. 

And so, tonight do not flinch.  Do not turn your head to the side.  Do not shuffle your feet and put your head down.  Instead, look at the darkness of knowing that tonight’s darkness is your darkness.  

However, as you look into the darkness, know that there is something else that you must consider.  Because your Jesus went into the darkness that Friday long ago, you have nothing to fear with your coming darkness.  That is right; because Jesus entered into the darkness already, you will go into the darkness with Him.  

Baptized Saints, this evening, behold the Lamb of God, who died.  Yes, behold your Savior that tasted the darkness.  However, hear this: your Jesus tasted the darkness of death not entirely alone but tasted the darkness of death with all of your past, present, and future sins.  He was made to be sin on that cross so that He might die in the darkness for that very sin.  

Indeed, that Friday long ago, as Christ entered the darkness of death, there was a death of One whom sin had no ultimate hold.  In the end, death had no right to Jesus, yet He gave up His spirit on behalf of the deaths that you and I all deserve.  Even though Jesus entered into the darkness of that Friday, darkness was not able to have the last word.  You see, from the midst of that darkness, a light came forth - a light that the darkness could not comprehend.  And so, darkness could not snuff out the light of Christ, which is why we will journey this evening to the Resurrection on Sunday morning.  

Baptized Saints please hear this again; your Jesus went into the darkness that you will have to go into.  And because you will go into the darkness with Jesus, you have nothing to fear from the devil and his lies.  As the darkness could not hold your Jesus, so it will not hold you.  As the darkness had no claim on Jesus, so by the innocent shedding of Jesus’ blood, the darkness has lost all claim on you.   

And so, again, we practice going into the darkness.  Tonight as we hear about a dead Christ, we rehearse our death.  However, we rehearse as people who will come out of the darkness into the splendor of the Lord’s resurrected light.  The Lord who walks with you into the valley of the shadow of death will walk out of it with you into the light – free of sin and free of death.  As Jesus descended into the darkness of death, you and I will descend as well.  And just as Jesus came out of the darkness into the light of the resurrection, you and I will come out as well.  You and I die with Christ, and we rise with Christ.  Not alone, but with Him and in Him.  

But my friends, we are getting ahead of ourselves right now.  Tonight is the first part that we practice – falling asleep in faith with Christ, who is forgiveness for you.  And Sunday will be the second part - hearing about the future resurrection.  

Baptized Saints, the darkness will come, but you need not be afraid.  Practice looking into the darkness right now.  Do not flinch but know that you can go into the darkness because your Savior will not leave you or forsake you.  Know that Your Jesus tasted death first and made full atonement for you that He might bring you through the darkness unto light.  

Yes, look into the darkness this evening and arise from your pew with confidence and journey from the darkness to the light of the empty tomb. 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Portions of this sermon are indebted to William Weedon's Good Friday Sermon from 2007.

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