And if darkness did not overcome Him, then it cannot overcome those of us who have Him within us.
As I leaned against my fiance's side, the tears engulfed me.
"I'm scared the darkness is going to win," my heart pounded as I shuddered.
"I'm scared it's always going to be this way." The words felt real enough to say.
"I'm scared I'm never going to get better." The hollowness of their validity rang in my ears.
How many of you have ever felt that way? The fear that darkness really might win? A thought you fight off with your intuition, yet it still lingers in your heart?
Will the Darkness Win?
This week marks Holy Week in 2023 history. And over the next week, souls over 2,000 years ago probably pondered the same question: What if darkness wins?
On Holy Wednesday, Jesus prepares for His death. Though He knows it's coming, He isn't running away but towards what He knows is destiny.
At the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany, a village in Judaea near the Mount of Olives, Jesus is anointed by Mary. Pouring expensive nard over His head and feet, she then bends low to dry them with her hair. Tears escape from the corners of her eyes. She tries to hold them back, but they surface like tiny pools, splashing waves in the distance.
I wonder if she questioned the darkness looming over her Lord. I wonder if she sensed the presence of something evil to come but Someone greater to conquer it. I wonder if she knew the value of her actions.
Those in the room with her scoff.
"That perfume is costly!" They retort.
"Why didn't you give it to the poor?" They mock.
"What a waste." They criticize her actions.
Mary's hands begin to shake. Her mind pauses. And for a split second, she contemplates their proposition.
But as Jesus' eyes meet her own, she knows she hasn't been mistaken. Her actions are no error. Her heart is purer than those who ridicule her.
"Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” John 12:7-8, NIV
Mary knows the darkness is coming. Why else would she have anointed Jesus? But the best part of her anointing, I presume, is that something within her still knows the darkness won't win. She doesn't know what's going to happen. She knows even fewer answers to the growing questions of those around her. But she knows who Jesus is to her, and that makes all the difference.
On The Other Side of Town
On the other side of town, Judas is bargaining with some religious leaders. He knows Jesus' values, too. But the difference between him and Mary is this: He valued Jesus as someone who could be sold and bought. She valued Jesus as someone far greater than money or expensive perfume could ever amount to.
The exchange has not yet happened, but the idea is planted in his mind. There's a reason Scripture tells us the love of money is the root of all evil. What other than pride could lead a sinner like Judas to trade the King for a few mere coins?
"For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses" 1 Timothy 6:7-12, NIV.
On Maundy Thursday, the betrayal will be complete. For thirty pieces of silver, Jesus will receive 39 lashes. Wasn't He worth more to them? Even the price of His anointing should've taught them that.
"Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present." Luke 22:1-6, NIV
But for the mere price of greed, He was treated like a criminal. Beaten for our transgressions. Crucified for our sins. Willingly abused so we could have peace with God through a relationship with Him.
Would You Remember the Promise?
Isaiah prophesied this long before Jesus came. But at the moment of His death, would you remember the promise coming?
"But he was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5, ESV)
Blood drips down His sides as a crown of thorns adorns His head, and my body trembles. I look up from His feet and can't pick myself up off the floor. Nausea and grief overwhelm me. My vision grows dark and blurry. Why would they treat my King this way?
My mind flashes to the last conversations and overheard discussions:
“Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later." John 13:36, NIV
Why can't I follow you right now, Jesus? Oh, how I've let you down.
"The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again." Luke 24:7, NIV
Why do you have to die? Where are you going?
"Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem." Luke 13:33, ESV
Can I follow you there?
"From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised." Matthew 16:21, ESV
Is darkness going to win?
As the clouds billow over the darkened sky, I feel that many asked that question. When the veil was torn in the Temple, and an earthquake shook the ground, did fear instill their souls? Even after finding the grave empty, would I, too, be quick to doubt His promises?
"Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” "They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” John 20:11-16, NIV
Darkness Will Not Win
Sweet friend, if you are reading this today, I want you to be encouraged. While Mary and the disciples hoped Sunday was coming, they didn't know until they saw Jesus face-to-face calling their names. But we already know how the story ends.
Because Jesus lived and died for us, we can live again. Forever, and in eternity with Him. He already paid the price. He already conquered the grave. He already penetrated the dark. And if darkness did not overcome Him, then it cannot overcome those of us who have Him within us.
On the darkest nights when anxiety and depression fill my mind with despair, I am reminded of these truths:
Jesus is sitting with me in this darkness.
And though I may face trials and tribulations in this life that don't always go away with prayer, I know that He's already overcome the world.
The darkness will not win.
And as difficult as it might be to believe that, I can rest in knowing my eternity is held in the hands of Him who already defeated death and sin—once and for all.
And He's coming back again.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/RyanJLane
Amber Ginter is a teacher, author, blogger, and mental health activist who resides in the beautiful mountains and cornfields of Ohio. She loves Jesus, granola, singing, reading, dancing, running, her husband Ben, and participating in all things active. She’s currently enrolled in the Author Conservatory Program and plans to pitch her book: Mental Health and the Modern Day Church for Young Adults, soon. Visit her website at amberginter.com.