“I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9:4)
Dawning on us
What does that mean to you? When I read it—it’s also good to take in the next verse—I think about how the things that Jesus was doing (i.e. “work[ing] the works”) were so bright that they pushed the forces of darkness back out into the recesses of space (see Colossians 2:13-15). It would seem that Jesus only had a short time in which to do things we’re still talking about and learning from over two thousand years later. Here’s the next verse:
“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Earlier on in your Bible, in Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 5:14a), He brings the disciples in on this truth: “Ye are the light of the world”. What He’s looking to show us is that we have the right to do the same things as He. It isn’t about standing up from your seat at the restaurant at which you just had lunch and walking across whatever body of water is nearest in order to prove a point. It’s simpler than that. The “works” to which He’s referring, the ones done “in the daytime”, so to speak, begin with an understanding of who you are by virtue of being one of God’s children, and, subsequently, whence you came. Paul speaks to that in his first letter to the Thessalonians (5:5-6):
“Ye are all children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”
Jesus understood the seriousness of the state of the world. He grew up for thirty years in the company of peers and neighbors that made up the community in which He was known as “the carpenter’s son” (Matthew 13:55). He then stepped foot on the world’s stage one day when He announced to the audience in the temple that the prophecy concerning the Messiah was really about Him (see Luke 4:17-20). That’s huge. All around this event, this same little inconspicuous (globally speaking) community had been overrun by the first world superpower—you gotta know they were feeling it. After thirty, He began to do things that clashed with the establishment. The seemingly-insignificant references to His interactions among the “chief priest and scribes” (see Matthew 2:4, John 3, et al.) and the Roman Empire (see Matthew 8) were like tiny cracks and fissures that would end in the widescale destruction of everything that had been built up at that point in history. This, among other reasons, is why we demarcate our calendar with B.C. and A.D., but that’s beside the point. Jesus gives us the standing confidence and also brightness in order to affect the same kind of changes in our world as did He. But it begins with the elementary, childlike things of kindness and warmth and playfulness, and love, that were resident in Him with each interaction He had with those whose hearts were right. These are the things that scale and grow and cause widespread, permanent change. You can do this.
“And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” (Mark 15:33)
That crepuscular feeling
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)
In closing, that deep-orange, sort-of gamboge/blood hue that makes sunsets so romantic is called Rayleigh Scattering. Feel free to look it up if you want to understand the particulars. Thing is, though, as days come and go in our lives (seasons, too) the Lord will envelop you in an atmosphere (made possible by Christ alone) that is intended to see you through a forthcoming night season. David talks a little about that:
“I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: my reins (i.e. the lessons I’ve learned) also instruct me in the night seasons.” (Psalm 16:7, emphasis mine)
Jesus, Paul, David. They were in tune with a broader understanding of what was going on with reference to the rotation of this world. Trust God to keep you in the right place at the right time and you’ll make it through this night.