I was a 90’s kid. I mean, that was the first decade when I could really comprehend music. Things may have been a little different, but here’s what I remember: my mom made me listen to KLTY in the car everywhere we went when I was a kid/teenager, as a teenager I was exposed to Christian Rock because my amazing youth pastor was the co-host of the dearly missed Lighthouse 21 radio show on 89.7 Power FM, and then some time in the 2000’s I started listening to U2, thanks to the friendship and musical/spiritual guidance of the Discipleship Pastor of the church I attended. So, I guess you can say I’ve experienced a progressive revelation of God’s common grace of what good music really is. Now, you’re probably asking what any of this has to do with Holy Saturday.
I’ve been doing two things this week: meditating on Holy Week and listening to a lot of classic rock. All of the “musical history in the life of Don” is important so that when I say that I just heard Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down this week, you’ll show some grace for my musical ignorance.
Here are the lyrics that caught my attention as I’ve been meditating on Holy Week:
Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down
You could stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down
Gonna stand my ground, won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down
Now, I’m not claiming that Tom Petty is really an example of this, but I do feel that it illustrates something that many of us are looking for today.
We want to see people stand for justice in the face of adversity. We want to see Aragorn march on the gates of Mordor. We want to see the courage and bravery of William Wallace as he fights for justice and freedom. We want to see Harry Potter stand firm against Voldemort, standing against evil and oppression.
We want to see Christ building His Church (Matt. 16:18). We want to see that justice and mercy and love and grace really does win. We want to see that the gates of Hell don’t stand a chance. But we look around and we see death and despair and injustice and oppression. Sometimes we feel like the disciples felt on that Holy Saturday long, long ago after seeing their Savior, Lord, and Friend crucified. Dead and buried. We wonder, “God, how could you let this happen?”
We ask this because we lose perspective. We feel like Frodo and Sam, tired and hungry and thirsty, looking around them at the molten lava and ash. Simply too tired to carry on because we are so weighted by the evils of the world around us. We forget about the “gates” of Hell. Gates aren’t an offensive weapon. Gates are for defensive protection.
When Christ said “the gates of Hell will not prevail” against the Church, He initiated an invasion. When King Jesus breathed His last breath, the demonic powers must have thought that their plan worked. That the gates held. What they didn’t realize was that the battle they just thought they won was in reality what took out the first splinters of Hell’s gate.
And on Sunday, when the Light shone from the tomb and stone was rolled away, I bet angels and demons could hear the gates of Hell shatter into atoms for all eternity.
So, when you look at the world around you. When you see the darkness and become weighed down, remember that you see the darkness because your eyes have been opened to see the Light, and that you have followed King Jesus and stormed through the gates of Hell. You are moving through the kingdom of the prince of the power of the air. You are in the enemy’s camp. An enemy who can’t win, who has already lost. The darkness is real, though. But you bring good news to those blinded to the light. You bring gospel.