These are the opening words of the Bible in the book of Genesis.
‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters.’
The Bible starts with darkness and chaos. Darkness covered the deep waters. Darkness was where it all started. Before darkness, there had never been anything other than darkness, void and without form.
In the last Gospel, at the end of the John, there is darkness. It is night. The disciples have been fishing in the dark on the Sea of Galilee. What a waste of a night. They have caught nothing at all. Their nets are empty. Their hearts are gloomy. They are tired and frustrated.
Then there was a flicker of light. On the shore was a small fire. Someone was standing on the beach, “but the disciples couldn’t see who he was.”
In Genesis it describes the majestic power of God in creation. ‘God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.’ It took just one word from God and the darkness was replaced by light.
The darkness of the night in John is broken by flames from a fire lit by Jesus. Jesus is there on the beach cooking fish for his friends for their breakfast. They cannot see him in the dark. They see only a flicker. They don’t know who has made the light.
And then as the dawn starts to lighten the sky they recognise their master and Lord.
The mundane and the miraculous. The ordinary and the marvellous. Creation of the universe and a barbecue on a beach. Similar and yet so different.
The creation of the universe is just to enormous for us to really comprehend.
Cooking breakfast over a fire on a beach is so small and ordinary we are likely to ignore it.
It is the same story. All through the Bible there is the story of light and darkness. The darkness is a place of chaos, fear, tribulation. The light overcomes the darkness. From the start to the finish of the Bible there are two forces, and darkness keeps losing.
‘Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”’ (John 8:12)
Light is life, but darkness is death. Light is understanding, but darkness is ignorance.
In the last book of the Bible we are told what heaven is like. It is a place of light.
“There will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them.”
And the light always comes from God. The light always comes from Jesus.
It also says in Revelation 22.
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star.”
And the light comes from you. Yes, if you follow Jesus he has promised you will have the light that leads to life.
Jesus told us in Matthew 5 in his sermon on the mount.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.”
Much of the time we don’t feel like the light. We feel like the disciples who had spent all night in the dark and had accomplished exactly zero. They had fished all night and caught nothing.
Have you worked hard. Have you struggled to live a good life. Have you always done what was right and yet today you feel heavy. Does it feel like you have been trapped in the dark and all of your fishing has brought you nothing.
You need to know that over there on the beach is a flicker of flame. Over there in the dark where you cannot see him is Jesus preparing your breakfast. All we have to do is go to Jesus and eat.
As we sit with Jesus and eat our breakfast, the sun will rise. The sun will rise and shine on Jesus and you will be able to see him clearly. The light of the sun that God created at the beginning of time will show you his son. Jesus will be revealed to you and you can follow him, and you can walk in the light with him.
We don’t need to stay in the dark. God doesn’t want us to stay in the dark. So why do we stay in the dark? Are you not hungry after working hard in the dark for so long? Are you not weary and in need of rest? God says come. Come to the beach and eat the food prepared for you. Let your hunger be satisfied.
One reason we stay in the dark is that it is hard to leave the dark.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
There is power in the dark and it has a hold on us. When we try to leave we learn just how strong this power is. It is a mighty power. It has authority. It doesn’t want us to just walk over to the beach and join Jesus in the light and eat breakfast.
The power of the darkness tries to convince you that you are not hungry and tired. It tries to tell you that you don’t want to eat breakfast with Jesus. Maybe it says the light is an illusion and points out that you cannot actually see Jesus on the beach or see the breakfast.
When Peter saw the light and realised it was Jesus on the beach, he just jumped right out of the boat into the sea.
We often don’t want to do that. We want to stay where we think it is safe and check out the beach from a distance. We stay in the boat and try to see if the beach is safe. We try to figure out if the food is healthy and if it is tasty. So many excuses. So many reasons.
Another problem we have is that we don’t want to be in the light. We don’t want people to see that we just spent the whole night fishing and didn’t catch anything, because that would be just too embarrassing. We fear that if Jesus saw what we are really like inside, he wouldn’t give us any breakfast.
We forget, he knows all about us. He has started the fire, prepared the food and cooked breakfast for us knowing what we are like. And he knows what we need.
We need a good breakfast. We need the light of the world. We need his power to overcome the darkness in our lives.
You don’t have to understand anything very complicated. All you’re asked is to take a step or two forward through the darkness and start digging in. Christ will give you light.