And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people (Matthew 27:50-53).
One of the miraculous signs accompanying Jesus’ death was the darkness that occurred. Jesus was crucified at 9 o’clock in the morning, but it wasn’t until noon that darkness covered the land. It’s not clear whether this darkness just occurred in the vicinity of the crucifixion or it may have been a wider, even world-wide phenomenon.
Warren Wiersbe comments: “This was not a sandstorm or an eclipse, as some liberal writers have suggested. It was a heaven-sent darkness that lasted for three hours. It was as though all of creation was sympathizing with the Creator. There were three days of darkness in Egypt before Passover (Exodus 10:21-23); and there were three hours of darkness before the Lamb of God died for the sins of the world.”
During the time of Moses, before the Passover occurred, total darkness had fallen on Egypt for three days, while the Israelites enjoyed light where they lived (Exodus 10:21-23). The prolonged darkness was part of the judgment that occurred when the king of Egypt refused to let Israel leave for the promised land.
Wiersbe continues: “Jesus had spoken at least three times before this darkness fell. While they were crucifying him, He repeatedly prayed, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34), He had spoken to the repentant thief and assured him a place in paradise (Luke 23:39-43). He had also given His mother into the care of His beloved disciple, John (John 19:18-27). But when the darkness came, Jesus was silent for three hours.”
When Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” you have to wonder if the dark sky was a vivid picture of the darkness Jesus experienced when he was literally made “a curse” for us and “became sin” on our behalf, that “in him we might become the righteousness of God” (Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
In the work, The Passion of The Christ – True or False?, Dr. John MacArthur notes: “Various interpreters have tried to explain the darkness in several ways. Some have suggested God sent the darkness as a veil to cover the sufferings and nakedness of His Son, making it an act of mercy toward Christ. Others have suggested the dimming of the sun signified God’s displeasure with those who put Christ to death. There may be truth in both of those ideas, but neither seems to get to the heart of what the darkness signified. Since this kind of supernatural darkness is always associated with divine judgment in Scripture, it seems reasonable that this darkness was also meant to convey a message of judgment.”
During our Lenten journey, let us be reminded that we once lived in darkness, until Jesus came as the light of the world and we placed our faith in him (John 8:12; Ephesians 5:8). It also reminds us that Jesus experienced the full weight of God’s wrath toward sin, so that you and I could go free.
Because of Jesus, we can celebrate the amazing truth of what Peter declared: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). As Christ followers we are very special to God and he has appointed us to be an alternative society, shining his light into the dark world in which we live. What a privilege it is to be a representative, an ambassador for Jesus Christ!
Dear God, in this world that contains so much darkness, shine your light through us. Let us lift up the name of Jesus today and share the good news of his salvation to ones in need. Thank you for saving us and for allowing us to represent you and your kingdom.
Who can you pray for and possibly talk to today about knowing Christ?