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When I was a young boy, our family vacationed at Mammoth Cave National Park. I’ve never forgotten what the tour guide said after we had descended deep into the cave. He turned off his flashlight and in total darkness, he quipped, “Don’t worry folks, should anything happen to us this far below the surface, I assure you there is no place we can get buried deeper, cheaper!” Everyone laughed. Now that I am older, I have discovered his statement was not true. We can get buried deeper, cheaper. Discover how.
Older now and hopefully wiser in my faith, I have learned there is one place that we can get buried deeper, cheaper. It is in a cave of our own making. The sin in our lives can not only bury us deep in a cave, it can bury us alive. Like at Mammoth Cave, our sin has a way of enveloping us in utter darkness.
The Greek philosopher Plato wrote, Allegory Of The Cave. In his story there are a group of prisoners chained in a cave facing a blank wall. The only thing they see are the shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them. This becomes their known world.
According to the story, after spending a lifetime in the cave, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. Then one day, a prisoner escapes and finds his way into the outside world where he sees the actual objects that produced the shadows. In essence, he discovers the truth. He returns to the cave to tell the others of his discovery. They refuse to believe him and vehemently resist his efforts to free them from their known environment.
This allegory reveals something important about human nature. The prisoner, upon finding greater knowledge outside the cave of human understanding, seeks to share his discovery with those who are still trapped in the darkness. The foolishness of those who are still trapped becomes obvious when they ignore him and think that they have sufficient knowledge already. Instead, they reject the information he tries to share with them.
Logic tells us that the freed prisoner would think that the real world was superior to the world he had experienced in the cave. Surely the freed prisoner would want to bring his fellow cave dwellers out of the cave and into the sunlight. Human nature, however, tells us that out of fear of the unknown, the prisoners would do all they could to prevent anyone from dragging them out of the cave.
The Bible is replete with stories of God calling His people out of darkness, caves, and death. Perhaps these stories are there because we humans so easily get trapped in caves of our own making. In Isaiah 49:9, God calls His people out of darkness to save them from the bondage of sin. The Lord tells Isaiah to say to the people, “Come out! To those in darkness: Show yourselves!” In Ezekiel 37:12 God said, “Look! I am going to open your graves.” In the story of Lazarus found in, John 11:1-45, Jesus cries out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands. Jesus said to the others gathered, “Untie him and let him go.”
Like Plato’s story, the story of Lazarus is packed with its own allegory. Martha said there would be a foul odor emanating from the cave. Did we enter into our Lenten journey with the foul odor of sin? There was a large stone blocking the entrance to the cave in which Lazarus had been buried. Do we have something blocking the entrance to our soul? What is keeping Jesus from reaching us?
Lazarus was all wrapped up. What has our life all wrapped up? Jesus called Lazarus out of the cave from death into life. He then unbound his wrappings and set him free. Now, during Lent, Jesus is calling us out of our cave. He desires to set us free!
On Easter Sunday we will listen to yet one more cave story. This time it will be Jesus Himself who comes forth after being dead in the cave for three days.
Like those prisoners who remained chained to the wall in Plato’s Allegory Of A Cave, we too can refuse to listen to the One calling us into the light of His love. Those who were captive in the cave rejected the truth and chose to remain chained to the wall. We can also choose to remain chained to our sin.
Jesus called His friend Lazarus to come out of the cave. Now, Jesus is calling us by name to come out of our cave. There is no stone, caused by our past sins, that is too big for Jesus to remove.
Jesus is calling to each of us today, “COME OUT!” Will we go to Him?
Dear Heavenly Father, I have spent too much time in the darkness of the cave of sin, Please send your Holy Spirit to guide me into the light of Jesus Your Son. Amen!
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Tearful, powerful message. I heard it. Thank you.
Thank you. Praise to the Holy Spirit!
Great message Brian. Each of us is called to be a light that helps others find their way out of the darkness of the cave to the source of light, Jesus. Thanks for sharing the light of Christ and his message of freedom and mercy through your ministry. God bless you my friend, Bob
Thank you for your kind message. Also, thank you for being Christ to me and for the lasting impact you have made in my life and in this ministry. I am indebted to you. You are a shining example of Christianity.