Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
Luke 22:52-53 (ESV)
“ . . . this is your hour, and the power of darkness . . . “
The authority of Jesus is amazing. I don’t believe that anything that happened on that dreadful night was beyond His control. “This is your hour” — Almighty God gave the enemy that short time to do with His Son what he would. And what the enemy did was absolutely dreadful, but it was also all within God’s plan.
I’ve often wondered what the angels thought during the passion of Jesus. Were they aware of why it was happening? I don’t know much about angels, but scripture gives us hints about their power and, as C.S. Lewis remarked in his excellent space trilogy (I paraphrase, from memory) the ones assigned to earth are of a “decidedly military caste”. The image I hold in my imagination is of the angels looking on from the heavens in horror as their Lord is tortured and killed. Their white-knuckled hands grip golden sword-hilts as they await the order that never comes. With tears of fury running down their cheeks they tremble and strain to hear the shouted order to “Attack!!!!” Surely toward the end many of them desired to rain holy fire and destruction on the entire earth — how could a race of beings who dared touch the Beloved with such violence be allowed to survive? Why didn’t their Lord call for them to rescue Him as He suffered on the cross?
This is all conjecture, of course. I am not really sure what the angels thought and felt. But what I am sure of is that God in His sovereignty gave the enemy that “hour”. It was the time when the power of darkness had its way, with God’s permission.
The blessed good news is that an hour is all the enemy ever gets. The raft of evil stays afloat for just a moment in the wide ocean of eternity. And even the workings of the enemy get turned against him, as he discovers, time and again, that the evil he worked has been woven into the good purposes of God. As Joseph said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:4b-5). Evil can’t change God’s plans. It just can’t.
So, in my best moments, I don’t fret about the future, and I don’t worry about the enemy winning. What he has meant for evil, God will turn to good. The enemy’s hour of darkness will be swallowed up in the bright Morning of God’s victory. Even in the dark hours I can feel the healing touch of God, the warmth coming back into my weary limbs, the stiffening of faith and resolve, and the strength returning to my arms. I can once more pick up my sword and do battle.
Thank you Lord, for the hope that sustains!
“Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.”
– Psalm 30:5 (ESV)