From the Pulpit: Ain’t no Sunshine When He’s Gone
Darkness is powerful. Darkness is something most of us fear. It tells us nothing about what the surrounding environment holds.
Darkness blocks out light and obscures images. Darkness withholds information about the environment. Darkness robs you of light, joy and strength. Darkness is the thief of faith, hope and eternal security.
Darkness in its best seen in the absence of Jesus. Jesus died on the cross at Calvary on Friday evening between high noon and 3 p.m. He breathed the seven words from the cross. the first of them was, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” The second was, “Into Thy hand I commend my spirit.” Then Jesus gave up the ghost and died.
John said in the first verse of that 20th chapter, the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early when it was yet dark. She came early when she couldn’t see. She came early when she had to feel her way to the top where the tomb was. She came early, looking to do what she could not do on Friday because they had to hurry and get Jesus down off the cross because darkness was swiftly creeping upon them.
So, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus came to the tomb early that morning while it was still dark, looking for an opportunity to bless Jesus.
Darkness is tough. It will scare you to death and rob all of your hope. It will make you become a dwarf in your aspiration because you can't see and most of us want to see before we move.
We want to see the platform before we take the first step. We want to have a secure promise and indication that everything is going to be alright. We want to see our way through. When things are extremely bad, it may signal that it is about to get better. But when you think it can’t get any worse, hold on to your seatbelt because things are about to change and get better.
Some of you might be in some dark places right now. You feel like giving up—I don’t have a job, my girlfriend has left me, my boyfriend dumped me, they are raising the rent in my apartment. I’m afraid my cancer is about to come back, my job is running out and I’m not prepared to change careers. My child will graduate high school in two months, I don’t know where I’m going to get the rest of the $43,000 for tuition by August.
It's always dark just before the dawn. Darkness really is an indication of the absence of Jesus because Jesus is the light of the world. When you live in Jesus you have light, you have sunshine, you have warmth and illumination.
Bill Withers wrote a song titled, “Ain’t no Sunshine When She’s Gone.” But I really want to put it in a different content— ain’t no sunshine when He’s gone—only darkness.
When Jesus is gone out of your life there is no hope. When He’s away from you, there is no aspiration. When He’s away, everything becomes cloudy and disfigured. When Jesus is gone out of your life everything is a mess, nothing acts right, nothing feels right, nothing gets right, nothing taste right, nothing pays right. The absence of Jesus is the reality of darkness.
Darkness breathes fear. If you’ve ever thought of walking on the dark side, don’t do it. Haters, backbiters, stabbers, negativity everywhere. No light. No hope. No peace. No idea. No inspiration.
Darkness hides reality. When darkness comes, the things around you can’t be seen but when you walk even when the sun goes down, don’t be afraid of it because Jesus is the light of the world. When He lives inside of you, even though it's dark around you, you can’t see the darkness because He’s the hope that cancels out your darkness. He’s the peace that comes in the middle of your despair, He’s the hope that comes to you in the time of your faithlessness.
Darkness is the natural human nature of our human experience. It’s the nature of our humanness to fear darkness. Small children harbor their greatest fear in the cloak of darkness. The parents have to help them overcome darkness by putting a night light in to chase the darkness away.
The Bible says Nicodemus went to Jesus by night. He really wanted to hear what Jesus was saying. The research said he was so wealthy that he could feed all the inhabitants of Jerusalem for 10 years and not make a dent in his wealth. He knew something had to be powerful about what Jesus was saying and he wanted a piece of it. But he was afraid to come to Jesus in the daytime. Some of us say, “I’ll follow Jesus, but do I have to walk down that aisle on Sunday morning? Can I just come accept Jesus in your office? That will be alright but what does it do about your witness to the rest of the dying world? You’re supposed to show your light before others so that they may see your good works and come and glorify your Father who lives in heaven. When you come, you have to come out of your darkness. Unless you overcome your darkness, you will be consumed by it.
You have to come outside of your fear in order to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. You have to come outside of the walls that box you in. Jesus is not a Donald Trump; He does not build walls, He builds bridges.
Darkness harbors evil. That’s why for some the later the party starts the better the party is, because we don’t want light to see the stuff that we struggle with. We don’t want daybreak to see the stuff that we drink or smoke, the folks we hang with and what we do while we are hanging with them. Men and women love darkness because their deeds are evil. Darkness breeds evil and evil always breeds contempt and contempt breeds the deterioration of a faithful relationship with Jesus Christ and each other.
Darkness is the incubator of ignorance. Ignorance starts with a lack of knowledge because there is no way to hate me and be justified in the situation just because my skin is black. There’s no way to hate me just because I’m a male or female or because you don’t find me in the right relationships with your homophobia—with your sexism.
Darkness harbors ignorance because knowledge removes the darkness and Jesus is the light of the world.
Jesus is the greatest gift the world has ever known. Ain’t no sunshine when He’s gone!
Pastor J. Edgar Boyd
First AME Church
St. John 20:1-9, St. John 3:16