It’s summertime in the south, which means ripening watermelons, the stifling humidity, and flickering fireflies. Twice in the past two weeks I have traipsed out at dusk with a mason jar and nephews and friends’ kids in tow to chase lightning bugs. Within seconds, dozens of flashing neon dots enveloped us. Excitement surged through my veins. We began stalking the illusive insects, darting and reaching and following deeper into the darkness. The children squealed, usually in declaration of a capture, but also in the anxiety of holding a fluttering insect inside their tightly-clenched fists. Each bug was deposited into a mason jar where we could observe them more closely. There, in our make-shift museum, the critters continued to flicker, even after we went to bed and forgot them entirely.
When Jesus walked the earth, he flickered across the darkness of sin and depravity. Love and grace radiated from his words. Hope emanated from his works.
Most of the religious leaders darted after him, seeking to test him as the Law instructed (Dt 13, 18; Mt 16.1-4, 19.3-9, 22.15-33). Perhaps they wanted to observe him more closely, as a firefly in a jar. Perhaps they simply hated the light and wanted to squash it. And yet, with all their plotting and swatting, the leaders could never capture Jesus. Until, in an astounding turn of events, he willfully walked into the mason jar and allowed himself to be trapped.
The religious leaders squealed, as if they’d made the capture themselves. Crowds gathered, staring at the flickering neon that emanated from the God-man as he was tortured and tormented. Soldiers pinned him to a cross like a specimen in its display case. The light faded, fainter and fainter, as Christ suffocated and died.
Then, in another astonishing turn of events, our glorious God unscrewed the lid of the jar and the firefly darted out. Tiny bolts of neon once again lit up the darkness. The firefly was free! Once again he took flight! And, yet in another mystifying turn of events, he willingly walked into another mason jar: the heart of every believer.
Though he currently resides in heaven, in a very real sense, Jesus still walks this earth. He still flickers against the darkness of sin and depravity as he shines through fragile and cracked mason jars like you and me. He literally lives in us; his life is in us, and “this life gives light to all mankind. His life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it” (Jn 1.4-5, TLB).
In what ways do you see the radiant Light of the world shining in and through you? And other Christians? How does this minister to a broken and hurting world?