Links Daily Devotional

In the Night

As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. (John 13:30, NIV)

I live in a city big enough to offer several driving ranges with lights. If you want to hit practice balls after the sun has set, no problem. But soon enough city regulations or the lack of demand kicks in, and the lights go off. At that point, a practice range doesn’t do you much good—not if you want to see where you are going.

Some references in Scripture don’t hold as firm a meaning for us today as they did in the time of the biblical accounts. I have plenty of friends who prefer a red eye flight, for instance, or who like driving when the roads are quieter after dark. Only the desperate or risky would have thought to travel after dark at the time of Jesus. Why? Because there was a particular group that made hay at night: those who were up to no good.

Wise parents still say things to their teenagers like, “Nothing good happens after midnight.” It’s not entirely true, of course, but it’s a saying with merit, even in the age of LED lighting and youth group all-nighters. We do well to keep our wits about us when we’re out at night.

It seems a curiosity that John’s gospel includes this little note about Judas’ departure in John 13:30: “And it was night.” After all, the disciples had just shared supper. What other time would it be?

But the time is not so important as the cloak. In darkness, people think their deeds will go unnoticed. Literally, yes, and spiritually too. When a person’s heart is dark, he kids himself that no one is looking; he is certain no light will reveal what he is really up to.

In Luke’s account of the betrayal, when Judas had returned with the religious leaders and their temple guard, Jesus said, “Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns” (Luke 22:53). Sometimes I wish we were supplied notes about the tone in Jesus’ voice. Was he strong and accusatory here, or just wearily observant? Perhaps it does not matter. Either way, the modus operandi of wicked men was set before them—and before us.

In all the accounting of the events of that horrible night, do not miss the point. All of us, when our hearts are darkened, slink into the night. Exposure scares us to death. Yet the wonder is this: When it is Jesus who does the exposing, and we are willing to see ourselves for who we are in sin, he stands ready to immediately cover us again. His goal is not to embarrass or demean us. His goal is to send the darkness fleeing, to replace it with the light of life.

Jeff Hopper
October 13, 2015
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