“There is no night there.” That is what John says about the city of God, the new Jerusalem. John is describing the Church of Jesus Christ in its resurrected and glorified state. It appears descending from heaven as a bride on her wedding day, beautiful.
One of the peculiar elements to this new and beautiful city is that it has no sun or moon. There are no artificial sources of light here. We probably don’t think of the sun as an artificial source of light, but it is. The sun was manufactured by God. Only God is a totally natural source of light.
This city has no sun or moon because it has God and the Lamb. It has the Father and Son in all their radiant glory as its light source. After the Last Judgment, in the Church of Jesus Christ, there is no night there.
I do not think that we should take this to mean that there is literally no night, no sun or moon or astrological features. The new creation will most likely have those things. But it will not have what they represent.
In the new creation there will be no powers of darkness, no evil, no sin, no death. That is what night and darkness have come to represent. Satan is the prince of darkness. Jesus tells Judas and the other Jews who have come to arrest Him that the night is their time. Night is when the devil is on the prowl, and in the new creation there will be no more of that.
Here, however, there is darkness, there is night. We are not yet to the new creation. We are not yet resurrected from the dead. We are living in the midst of a fallen and sinful world with fallen and sinful bodies and souls. We are struggling through the darkness of night.
Here there is the darkness of sin and evil. The night of sin descends upon us, or perhaps it is better to say that we bring it forth. We bring evil, anger, hate, lust, greed, and other such things into our relationships. And the result is multiplied darkness.
We see the results of this darkness in the conflicts that we have with other people. When you put two sinners together in a room there is going to be conflict, period. It is tempting to think that it is only the other guy who is sinning, but it always takes two to tango.
At times these conflicts are easily resolved. At other times they are not. And when we remain in the darkness of sin it breeds contempt. Anger grows to hate. We begin to despise the other person whom God tells us to love as ourselves.
Look at your relationships. Think about the people with whom you have contact throughout your day. Where is there conflict? Where is there resentment? Where is there contempt? It is all sin. It is all evil. It is all darkness and night.
Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God and the Light of the World, has reconciled us to God the Father. He has restored that broken relationship with His death and resurrection. And now He gives us the command and the ability to forgive one another, to restore our broken relationships here on earth.
In marriage, in business, in family, or in politics, forgiveness bought with the blood of Jesus can and will restore light in the darkness. By the death and resurrection of Jesus we are called out of the darkness and into His congregation of saints where His light rules all. We are called to be children of the light.
Yet as children of the Light, we still live in a world of darkness, and the evidence for this continues to build. Here in this fallen world it is still night.
We see the darkness mount in the wake of the bombing of innocents at a marathon, the murder of children at a school, the abuse given from parents to children and from children to parents. You cannot watch the local news without seeing the darkness of night in which we live.
Fear not, Jesus says. In the world you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world. The resurrection of Jesus brings light, not only to our fallen nature, but also to this world. It announces the Gospel of forgiveness, life, and salvation to the ends of the earth.
Even as we struggle to proclaim the Gospel of Light in the dark and dismal world we see continued evidence that there is still night here. It is called death.
Neither the old, nor the young, nor any in between, are completely safe and exempt from this darkness, the result of evil in the world. You may have buried your parent, your spouse, or your child. It may have been a friend or a neighbor. But when death comes we all know instinctively that it is not light, but darkness. It is not day, but night.
Death is darkness. Resurrection is light. Jesus Christ has risen from the night of death to live forever in the day of life. He is the sunrise that will never set. He is the lamp that will never be extinguished. Christ is risen and it is that resurrection into eternal day and light to which we daily look forward.
We look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, a new Jerusalem in which there is no more night, no need for a sun or moon to give us light, because God is our eternal light and life. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God is our Sun, the Lamp of God’s glory to illumine all darkness.
Here there is darkness. But in the new Jerusalem there is no night there.
There will be no trace of sin or evil in our bodies, in our hearts, or on our minds. We cannot even begin to fathom that, a day where the darkness of sin is not even a shadow for us. We will always love God fully and freely. We will always love our neighbor and serve him willingly with joy. We will have no enemies for all will be reconciled.
We will have been raised from the dead, restored and revitalized to be the men and women that God created us to be. In fact, the entire world will be filled with people, resurrected and ready to serve each other, not bite and devour one another. No more bombings or shootings or abuse, only love and fellowship, mercy and friendship forevermore.
We will be raised from the darkness of death never to die again. We will be like Jesus in His perfect human nature. The shadow of death will be gone from in front of us. Ahead is only the brilliant light of Jesus Christ shining on for eternity.
Here there is darkness and night. But there, there is no night. New Jerusalem has God and Jesus as its light and lamp. No evil, violence, or death. Only love, service, and life.
The eternal city is safe from darkness because Jesus Christ dwells in the midst of it. Jesus Christ is with us here and now. We can only see Him by faith working in Word and Sacrament. But that does not diminish His presence.
Jesus is with us today bringing the light of His death and resurrection into our lives. He is the beacon of light shining in our darkness bringing us forgiveness, life, and salvation. He shines forever, never diminished, until all darkness is banished and night is no more. Amen.