Have you ever experienced a dark night that wasn’t just visible, but physically felt?
Sometimes in nature whether it’s a storm, earthquake or some other natural event, the air seems heavy, sounds are hushed and one can sense something is going to happen, which is usually not good.
Last week we saw how Scripture describes Jesus as the sun, and how His light radiates His glory. In that devotional I mentioned the darkness which occurred when Jesus died on the cross, and I’d like to look a little more at that for this week.
For me, these devotionals are kind of like my own hashing out of things I learn and hear, and also my pondering out loud what God sometimes lays on my heart. Hopefully those who’ve already pondered and discovered much of this will bear with me as I think out loud here.
Jesus was most likely put on the cross by about 9 am, as the three gospel accounts claim “the third hour”, and the accounts of darkness mentioned would have occurred between the 6th and 9th hours, which would have been from noon to three. We know scientifically and historically that this was not caused by an eclipse since it was the time of Passover, which occurs at a full moon, and solar eclipses last only about 7 and a half minutes, not hours. Some theories suggest a sand storm or other natural occurrence, and more liberal theologians believe it was literary licence on the part of the gospel authors- symbolically speaking.
I don’t want to argue theories now however, but focus more on the event and what it signifies that the Sun/Son was darkened during the time of his most excruciating sacrifice.
Before the son went dark, notice the behavior of the people who had come out for the spectacle, most noticeably the Pharisees and even the thieves hanging next to him. In Mark 15:31 & 32, it’s noted that, Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
The priests and religious leaders should have been attending their duties at the Temple, especially since it was the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. But they wanted not only make sure their desires were carried out in putting Jesus to death, but also take part in mocking His works and words of His ministry and further exciting the people to despise Him and doubt everything He had taught and claimed. In mocking Him, telling Him to save Himself, they were mocking His station of Savior. By claiming He could not save himself, they insinuated that He could not and did not save others. They mocked Him and His claim of being the Son of God- “If thou art the Son….”
He was between two thieves which made His ‘crimes’ seem the most despised and even the thief reviled Him, save yourself, and us too. Sin was continuing as the Savior was dying.
But notice, Jesus was still working even as He suffered- interceding on behalf of those who mocked and despised Him and who were killing Him, granting the 2nd thief salvation, and Comforting His mother by making sure she would be taken care of by John.
Now, in Matthew and Mark, it was noted that at the 6th hour darkness fell on the land, until the 9th hour. It doesn’t say “it got dark” it says it fell on the land which seems to be an instantaneous event. In Luke 23:45 he describes, And the sun was darkened
This suggests a failure of the sun to shine it’s light, not an absence of the sun as if it were night time. A darkness took place of the light.
It seems that in these hours of darkness, the hush fell and people were afraid. It’s also evident by Jesus’s words that He knew God had turned away, not being able to bear looking at the full wrath that He had to lay on His Son.
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me
Can you imagine the utter lonesomeness that Jesus felt at while also suffering the most excruciatingly physical pain imaginable? That even His Father had abandoned Him?
We have all had times of doubt, or silence when we’ve cried out to God. I know in a few of the hardest times in my life, He seemed far away. It seems that would be more unbearable than the physical and emotional abuse Jesus suffered. The abandonment of God…
So, the darkness came… Whether it was nature turning away out of intense pain and sympathy for the Creator, or from God testifying that the death of His only begotten Son was special, something that deserved notice and also that He was the redeemer of the world.
It covered the indescribable wrath that Jesus took upon Himself for the rest of us. Consider also that He met the enemy on his own turf, in the darkness.
It was all a necessary part of the plan because the form of execution, the trial, beatings and the cross, were all man’s ways meting out the punishment. The rest was God’s necessary punishment by laying out all the iniquities of the world on His Son.
It was also the grief of the Father for His Son.
And the absolute Love of the Creator for His creation. So we don’t have to go through the hell that Jesus took for us.
I am.. I can’t describe the awe, sorrow and gratitude for all He did for me and all of us. I can’t imagine the indescribable, and I hope that more people will come to understand how much He loves them to have done this for them too.
He promised, I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
He willingly walked into and through the valley of darkness and death and said, “It is finished”. And then the darkness receded.
The Sun shone again and the Son rose again.
I hope everyone has a blessed Monday and week.