When the famed naturalist, Loren Eisley, was a young boy, he was visiting his grandparents’ farm. On the farm was an old, long abandoned well. Like any young boy would be, Eisley was curious about the well.
He got a flashlight, climbed atop the brickwork, and pointed the flashlight down to get a better look. But when he pointed the flashlight down, he was startled by something slithering away from the light, down in the murky depths. Remembering that moment decades later, Eisley writes, “The thing that startled me most is that there are creatures in the world who actually prefer to live in such darkness their whole lives.”
At least one theme of Good Friday is dealing with those parts of your being and mine that prefer to live in darkness. When the cross goes up, and the Son of God goes up on it, there is a bright beam of truth thrown into the murky depths of who we are. Good Friday powerfully tells the truth about God, yes - but Good Friday also tells the truth about you and me.
And the truth is: there is a slithering darkness in each and every one of us. There are creatures of habit, creatures of sin, and creatures of dysfunction and denial inside each and every one of us. Interior night crawlers of the soul - the Bible refers to them as sin. The church refers to them as human depravity. The Passion Story refers to them as the darkness that covers the earth from noon time until death.
But whatever name you call yours, you can’t come to this day and you can’t come to this cross, and you can’t stand before this Christ without coming to terms with the slithering darkness.
No wonder that the crowds on Easter Sunday are always larger and louder than those on Good Friday. Who wants light thrown on all that we work so hard to hide? The Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote: "If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"
It is a painful, painful thing to trace the contours of that line across the topography of my own heart. If I trace it with any honesty whatsoever, then it inevitably will lead me to this dying God-man, where I will have to say, “My sin. My wrong. My darkness. My fault.”
Like I said: no wonder that the crowds on Easter Sunday are always larger and louder than those on Good Friday.
But you can’t get to Easter except through Good Friday. And you can’t get through Good Friday until you say, “My sin. My wrong. My darkness. My fault.”
Dr. Charles Anderson is Senior Pastor of Clearlake United Methodist Church near Houston, Texas. If you are ever in the area, Charles and his congregation would love to have you come worship with them.
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