“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (John 12:31-38)
Ever since mankind’s decision to reject God, to love the world more than its Creator, to wish to be gods ourselves – ever since the fall of mankind, there has been a tension — a battle — between good and evil, between light and darkness, between God and this world. The entire sacred history of the Old Testament describes this battle, as the Israelite people repeatedly abandon God and repeatedly repent.
This battle intensifies when Christ is born, for now He who alone can satisfy the needs of our nature, He who created us, He whom we have rejected – He is present in the flesh. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:10-12). We see this especially clearly in the many accounts of Christ’s interaction with the scribes and pharisees – but it is also clear in the hardness of heart of the apostles prior to Pentecost: “For He taught His disciples and said unto them, ‘The Son of Man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him; and after He is killed, He shall rise the third day.’ But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask Him. And He came to Capernaum; and being in the house, He asked them, “What was it that ye disputed among yourselves on the way?” But they held their peace, for on the way they had disputed among themselves as to who should be the greatest” (Mark 8:31-34).
This battle has intensified yet more in these final days. Christ openly confronts the pharisees and scribes: “Woe unto thee, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matt 12:13). In their turn, “they took counsel together to put Him to death” (John 11:53). Judas makes his choice, betraying the Lord for 30 pieces of silver. The world will soon make its choice, as the multitudes shout, “Crucify Him!” And at some point, each one of us must make our choice. Judgement is a choice we make. God is life, light, and goodness. Each one of us, in our thoughts, words, and actions, will either accept him or reject him. We have a choice – good or evil, life or death, light or darkness.
Ultimately, death, evil and darkness cannot win, for they have no substance. Only God exists by his own power, and in the end only God can be victorious. Life cannot be swallowed up in death. So goodness, light and life prevail, and God arises from the dead, “trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.” We too can arise with him, through His grace, love, and power, if we choose to follow him.