At Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota, my family road an elevator deep into the belly of the earth. After the Park Ranger had taught us about stalactites, stalagmites, and bat guano, he taught us about darkness. He let us feel what a blind person feels. As the Ranger reached over and turned out the electric lights, I remember waving my hand in front of my eyes and seeing nothing, only the absence of light, absolute darkness. Like Blind Bartimaeus, I could feel the darkness.
That’s what happened as God sent the nineth plague upon Egypt. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward heaven, and there will be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness that can be felt.’ So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness throughout the land of Egypt for three days” (Exodus 10:21–22). God withdrew the light, leaving behind utter darkness.
Like a heavy blanket, it was “a darkness that can be felt.” It was debilitating darkness. “One person could not see another, and for three days they did not move from where they were”(Exodus 10:23). Pharoah was blinded by the darkness. He could wave his hand in front of his royal eyes and see nothing.
In the prologue to his Gospel, John explains God’s purpose of bringing life-saving Light to His sin-darkened creation. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness...” (John 1:1–5).
Sadly, and predictably, many rejected the Light. “He was in the world, and the world was created through him, and yet the world did not recognize him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name” (John 1:10–12). By grace through faith, those who believe in His name, receive the life-giving Savior and become children of Light.
Like each of us, Bartimaeus lived in complete darkness. But God’s grace intervened. “As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. Hearing a crowd passing by, he inquired what was happening. ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by,’ they told him. So he called out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Then those in front told him to keep quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to him. When he came closer, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘I want to see.’ ‘Receive your sight.’ Jesus told him. ‘Your faith has saved you.’ Instantly he could see, and he began to follow him, glorifying God. All the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God” (Luke 18:31–43).
By grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone, a once-blind sinner, destined for eternal darkness and ever-lasting death, received the Light and Life.
That’s my story too.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.