The Last Day Of Darkness

Today begins for me, like every other day for the past decades, in darkness.

Not because the sun has yet to rise, but because my eyes are worthless. Dead, unseeing stones in my head. Sightless appendages draped with needless eyelids.

I shuffle in my hovel, groping for the putrid rag I call my cloak. My fingers slide up the leg of a small stool, on which they locate the crust of bread I saved from the day before. I put it to my cracked lips and take a bite.

Today will be another empty day in an endless string of empty days. Another day sitting in the heat and the dust by the road, begging for spare coins. Begging the laughing ones, the busy ones, the working ones, the seeing ones. Scavenging like one of the dogs that wander the streets. Only I can’t wander. I can only sit in the stifling darkness.

I’m sitting by the road, taking in the sounds of wagons, and carts, vendors and shoppers, the normal cacophonous background to my darkness, when I hear the growing commotion of a large crowd drawing near. Is today a holiday? Is there a procession? Is a prefect or governor about to pass by? Maybe he’ll look down on me from his royal coach and toss a coin my way.

“What’s going on?” I call out. “Who’s coming? Can someone tell me?”

“Jesus of Nazareth is passing by,” someone yells down to me.

Jesus of Nazareth? Yes, I’ve heard of him. He heals the blind, the crippled, the deaf. No one has ever done the works he has done. And did not the prophets foretell that the Messiah, the final and glorious son of David, will do these very things? And he’s coming my way!

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” I shout, as loud as I can. “Son of David, have mercy on me!” I shout again and again.

“Shut up old man,” someone hisses.

I shout still louder, against the chaotic noise of the crowd. “Son of David!”

“Quiet you old fool!” another voice yells.

“Have mercy on me! Have mercy on me!”

Suddenly someone touches my shoulder, then grabs my hand. “Come my friend, he’s calling for you – Jesus is calling for you. Well, are you just going to sit there?”

He helps me to my feet, and leading me by the hand, calls out, “Make way. Let us through. The Teacher has summoned him.” We stop, and the crowd grows silent. I stand there, listening, waiting. And then I hear a voice, a wonderful, tender voice. A voice I have longed to hear my whole life.

“What do you want me to do for you?”

My cracked lips speak. “Lord.” My heart is pounding. “Let me recover my sight.”

Can a voice smile? Can it dawn upon you like the first sunrise in creation? Can a voice flood your being with infinite joy? He says, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.”

My head explodes with blazing light. I’m blinking and tears flood my eyes. Slowly my eyes begin to focus for the first time, and…I am seeing…a face. A smile. And laughing eyes. I’m gazing into the face of the Son of David. The face of the One I will follow for the rest of my life.

photo by Salva [Om Qui Voyage]

  • http://www.worshipfulreader.blogspot.com Ron Reffett

    Hey Mark!
    Wow, what a great post. What an astounding truth that Jesus calls for us out of the crowded, stifling sinful state that we find ourselves in and reaches in and pulls us to His side.
    We serve an amazing God and I am so very thankful for Jesus who is still pulling me up each and everyday by His more than capable hands, praise His name! Thank you so much for your words of encouragement this morning.
    Blessings
    Ron Reffett

  • foxnala

    Comments are turned off on your blog about Tony Jones. So I’m responding here. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I think you may have misrepresented/simplified him for your readers. If you read the entire blog entry, as well as his comments/clarifications, and his next couple days’ worth of blogs, you’ll see that he does NOT deny that penal substitutionary theory of the cross and what he did on the cross. His point, though, is that like anything in life (and certainly when we’re talking about something beyond creation – i.e., God the Father and Jesus), there are many different facets to observe and understand something. In fact, Jones admits that penal substitutionary atonement is an important Pauline understanding of the cross. Yes, it’s VERY important to understand Christ’s death on the cross as having served penal substitutionary atonement, but there are also some other important angles to look at what Christ did for us in his incarnation, death, and (importantly)his resurrection from death. Many of today’s reformed churches have stopped preaching a 3-dimensional Jesus, and instead only preach penal substitutionary atonement to the detriment of all else that Christ is – sadly, this leaves many reformed believers with only a 1-dimensional view of Christ, and robs them of the joy of knowing him more fully.

  • Stephen Altrogge

    foxnala – Thanks for your comment. The comments were accidentally turned off on the other post.

    I don’t like to debate theology online because it doesn’t usually seem to be very productive. So I’ll give you my thoughts and leave it at that.

    I did read the full post by Tony Jones, as well as his following clarifying post. Tony says that he doesn’t want to deny penal substitution, but then he goes on to deny it anyway. For example, in his following post he says:

    “But, in all honesty, PSA never sat quite right with me. For one, it didn’t seem to jibe with the chesed of God in the Hebrew Scriptures. And it really didn’t jibe with Jesus’ message. Honestly, I just took my leaders’ words on faith that Jesus perfect life and subsequent death somehow assuaged my own moral guilt.”

    I could be misreading him, but he appears to be saying that penal substitution doesn’t agree with the OT or the message of Jesus. Which seems like a denial of penal substitution.

    In a further post called “Do I Deny Penal Substitution?” he seems to be acknowledging that penal substitution has a place in scripture. But it’s hard for me to take his words at face value given the comments he made in his other posts.

    Those are my thoughts.

  • foxnala

    Thanks so much Stephen. Very kind response! I certainly understand not wanting to debate theology online. Often times it goes no-where. At the same time though, I don’t want to see a fellow Christian represented unfairly in public blogs (even if we don’t necessarily agree entirely with him).

    I’m glad you read Tony’s blog site directly (since I know Kevin DeYoung first reported on in his blog last week). I just think we need to be very careful on our public blogs before we make charactatures of other Christians and their theology. If you read enough of Tony’s writings, I think you’ll come away without any doubts that he, just like us, is relying 100% on Jesus for salvation.

    We all need to remember that a proper theology is certainly very important, but that it’s the real living Jesus himself who saves us, not whether or not we have subtley-nuanced correct/incorrect theological cognitions about such.

    I’ll just leave you with a quote of Tony’s from “Do I Deny Penal Substitution?” (the day 2 blog, in which he further explains the quote you referenced in your blog). He certainly doesn’t take Jesus’s death and ressurection lightly, and in fact calls it the “pivot-point in cosmic history” for us. I think he’s simply viewing it from additional paradigms that many of us today in the modern evangelical church haven’t been taught to also consider.

    Per Tony:
    “However, that does not lead me to reject it outright [i.e., penal subs. atonement]. Why? Because I can still see the merits of PSA. I can still understand the theological arguments behind it. I can still see how it is justified by some Pauline writings.
    As I have said and written elsewhere, I consider the crucifixion-resurrection to be the pivot point in cosmic history. It is ultimately more immense and beautiful than any human words can describe or explain.
    Every atonement theory proffered by theologians over the past two millennia has shone a spotlight on that event. And I, for one, think the more spotlights shining on the cross and empty tomb, the better.”

    Anyway, peace to you brother. Thanks Stephen!

  • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Mark Altrogge

    Thanks again, Ron.

    Amen, what a merciful Savior we have!

  • Stephen Altrogge

    Foxnala – Thanks for the discussion.

  • Anne

    thanks for posting…
    I was reading this with teary eyes. Indeed, His love is refreshing.

  • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Mark Altrogge

    Thanks Anne,

    I’m grateful the Lord would use this to bless you.

  • http://www.batteredbronzemirror.com Dan

    Thanks for this moving reminder of the mercy of God towards the blind man who had nothing to offer. I wonder how often we could sit down and write such moving words, in detail, about our own transformation from darkness to light!

    I’m not sure how I happened on to your blog, but it is regularly a refreshing read. It has a spirit of direct scriptural encouragement and not of endless commentary on current Christian hiccups. As a college student (The Master’s College), your posts on the freedom from a sense of guilt that can be found in God’s justification and forgiveness seem to cross paths with my experiences in an especially timely way.

    God bless!
    Dan

  • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Mark Altrogge

    Hey Dan,

    Thank you for your kind comments! I’m grateful that you would even read our posts, and I’m thankful God would use any of them to encourage you.

  • Pingback: A Spring of Joy » Sunday Selection