Jesus cried aloud: ‘Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.’
I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.
What does the phrase ‘Three-Day Week’ mean to you? Does it bring to mind the specious and unrealistic promises that were made at the beginning of the computer age? The promises that said that computers would reduce our working week by at least fifty per cent? Or, does the phrase ‘Three-Day Week’ make your hearts sink as you recall those days in 1974 when the dispute between the government and miners’ unions restricted our access to electricity in a way that meant our working lives were constrained by the flicking of a switch at the local power station?
In our reading today Jesus offers words of great comfort and consolation to those who feel that they are journeying through dark times. Sometimes our darkness is generated by the actions and words of others, sometimes we plunge ourselves into the darkness of despair and hopelessness. Sometimes we can change our outlook from darkness to light by identifying and following a new path through life, at other times it is not so easy. Sometimes we feel isolated and abandoned by others, we feel so unsupported and lacking in optimism that the darkness seems to get more and more impenetrable. However you define darkness in your life, Jesus is offering us a light that will always provide direction and warmth.
No one travels through their earthly lives without moments of darkness. Whether that darkness is rooted in family, friends, colleagues, finance, employment or lack of personal self-esteem, we all know what it is to feel the darkness wrapping itself around us, depriving us of appetite and sleep, undermining all sense of certainty, leaving us asking the doom-laden question: ‘What is the point of it all?’ But … there is a way back from the depths, if we are brave enough to stretch out our needy hands and grasp the hope given us in Jesus Christ.
Jesus understood the human condition. His understanding was not just that of the creator God, but the understanding of one who has journeyed the path with us. Jesus knew rejection, betrayal and denial. Jesus knew those moments when he had to withdraw from the company of others because of their threats to his well-being. Jesus, in his earthly life, knew the darkness that overwhelms us from time to time. But … Jesus was never totally submerged in despair. Jesus knew the companionship of his heavenly Father. Jesus knew that the light of God was marking out a better way forward than we can ever find for ourselves.
So, as we feel the darkness enveloping us, let us turn to God in prayer, and let us follow the light of Christ … the light that can never be extinguished … the light of true hope and joy.