Good versus evil and light versus darkness are themes we see throughout our daily lives. The struggle between good and evil pervades all aspects of society, sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of darkness and at other times the light disperses the darkness and brings hope and security. The entertainment industry has realized how effectively the struggle between good and evil draws an audience into the story. “The Lord of the Rings,” “Harry Potter,” and numerous other books and movies portray the conflict and tension brought about when good and evil collide. In my opinion, the one movie saga that captures the epic nature of the relationship of light and darkness or good and evil is “Star Wars.”
There may be some who are uncomfortable with “Star Wars” being the favorite movie of a pastor. I assure you I am not converting to the Jedi religion in any way; of course I have tried to summon the remote control to my hand only using my mind, but who hasn’t done that? “Star Wars” actually illustrates the battle between light and darkness very effectively. The original trilogy started out with the movie titled, “A New Hope.” The Galactic Empire, ruled by the Emperor and Darth Vader, rule the Galaxy with an iron fist and this empire symbolizes evil and darkness. The light is represented by the small but determined group called the Rebellion. By the end of the movie the Rebellion and the Empire have an epic battle and the Rebellion is able to destroy the Death Star and bring about a new hope to the galaxy; however, just like life, evil is still waiting around the corner. In the second movie, “The Empire Strikes Back,” the Empire is able to reorganize and force the Rebellion into hiding. Good and evil battle one another throughout the movie saga just as they do in life today. In the final movie, good overcomes evil, but not without difficulty and determination by the Rebellion.
In John 18 we begin to clearly see the power of evil as Jesus is arrested and then taken to trial. Over the past few chapters Jesus has been talking to the disciples about His goodness and how they have the opportunity to help spread His goodness throughout the world. Darkness will not quietly allow the light of Jesus to drown out the stronghold of evil in the world. The one person who is the epitome of goodness, love and light in a dark world is now going to be attacked full force and ultimately killed. This must have been an unimaginably difficult time for Jesus and he could have used all the support he could get. The support did not come and darkness descended on the earth as never before.
There are three different responses to Jesus in chapters 18 and 19 and each response allows evil to continue the work that had been started. The first response is that of Peter, a fierce and devoted follower of Jesus. In the heat of the moment during Jesus’ arrest, Peter impulsively cut off the ear of the High Priest’s servant. Now Peter finds himself with time to think and when the question is posed to him regarding his relationship with Jesus, Peter denies knowing Jesus on three separate occasions. Peter was so scared he would be put through the same thing Jesus was going through that he felt the need to deny and abandon Jesus when Jesus needed him most.
Pilate’s response to Jesus ultimately paved the way for Jesus to be crucified. Pilate acknowledges the fact that Jesus is innocent and even proclaims Jesus is king of the Jews, but in the end the pressure of the crowd and fear of what others would think prevented Pilate from doing what was right. The third response in these two chapters is seen in the religious leaders. These were God-fearing people who desired to follow God and were looking forward to the coming Messiah; however, they were entrenched in the man-made traditions of their religious façade. If God was not going to conform to their understanding and preconceived ideas then even God would be allowed to be nailed to a tree. Each of these responses allowed evil to gain a stronghold that would lead to the Messiah being crucified like a common criminal.
I wonder if sometimes our responses to Jesus allow darkness to gain a stronghold today. Jesus has called us to be light bearers in this world today which means we live our lives for Christ each and every day. Sometimes we may respond as Peter. For the most part we live for Christ and serve Him, but when following Jesus will cause personal difficulty, will we deny Jesus as Peter did? Are we still concerned more about our personal comfort and security than following Christ?
Maybe we respond as Pilate; we know the right thing to do, but we are afraid of what others might think. Does maintaining our social status keep us from ministering to all people no matter who they are? Do we put what others think about us above what God desires for us to do? Finally, I am afraid that at times we respond the way the religious leaders responded to Jesus. How often do we let tradition keep us from ministering in a new way? Do we only follow Jesus in the areas were we feel comfortable or are we willing to see Jesus from a different perspective? If we allow anything to keep us from serving Christ, we are allowing darkness to overcome the light.
When we are struggling to follow Christ, I hope we will remember that Jesus himself faced evil and overcame the darkness. At our weakest moments, when we are tempted to disregard God’s calling in our life we must remember to turn our focus on the one who has overcome the darkness. Jesus faced all that evil could throw at Him and He conquered death and darkness with life and light. I hope we will take part in pointing people away from the darkness and into the light that Jesus revealed when He overcame death and radiantly burst forth from the tomb.