Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last. (Luke 23:44-46)
Three Hours Of Darkness
The Palestinian sun brilliantly shone down on the tragic events taking place outside Jerusalem. Three men were nailed to crosses with the proficiency of the Roman Army. A crowd gathers around the scene, jeering, mocking, screaming, and hurling insults. Two of the men were known criminals charged with robbery and murder. The man in the middle was charged as a criminal but was innocent of all sin. It was a noisy place and smelled of death. Golgotha was a place of death used by the Romans to carry out capital executions of the government. No one escaped the cross. It was the most horrific means to kill a man perfected over the years to prolong suffering as long as possible. A merciful act that heightened the severity of the execution was breaking the legs of the criminals. Jesus was the man in the middle who endured the suffering of the crucifixion along with the other two men. His legs were never broken as He died around three in the afternoon.
Three hours after Jesus is nailed to the cross, the sun becomes obliterated from sight, and darkness falls over the land. It is not an eclipse of the sun or some natural phenomena explained by an erupting volcano, or a flock of birds, or dark storm clouds. This darkness permeated everything as the darkness veiled Egypt when the Hebrews were in bondage. It was a darkness that could be felt. The darkness of Egypt lasted for three days, but the darkness at the cross of Jesus lasted three hours. It was the middle of the Palestinian day when the sun was the highest and brightest. Suddenly, darkness covered the land with no explanation. It lasted for three long, troubling hours as the life of Jesus slowly slipped away.
God gave humanity a powerful sign in bringing the darkness. Jesus was bearing the darkness of sin for all humanity, and the earth responded in kind. It was as if nature itself was yielding itself to the reality of the death of God. Jesus was not coming down from the cross alive. He would endure the terrible pain of the cross for nearly six long, agonizing, and incredibly painful hours. There was no wine mingled with myrrh to dull the pain. Jesus refused it. The penalty of sin would be paid in full, and darkness was part of the price. Jesus hung on the cross for three hours, engulfed with darkness. There was no sun to offer hope. He could not look out in the crowd to see His mother. His first words when the darkness fell were pleading with His heavenly Father why He had forsaken Him. He cried for thirst as the darkness heightened His suffering. The darkness reminded Jesus why He came, and He declared His work finished. Finally, in the midst of the darkness, Jesus died. It was the sixth hour of the day when the sun would fill the sky with brilliant rays of sunshine, but not today. An unnatural darkness covered the land when Jesus died.
Man is not made for the darkness. He is not a nocturnal creature. His place is in the sunlight of the day. When God created man, he was made in the image of the Father for the glory of the Father. He was not created to be a spiritual nocturnal being. Sin brought darkness to the heart of man. Adam and Eve hid in the shadows of the trees seeking to flee the presence of God. Jesus died in darkness to bring light to the world. To die in the cover of darkness made the suffering even more. Jesus bore the physical suffering of the cross, but He did not die on a bright sunny day. He gave up His spirit as darkness covered the land.
It would not be until the morning of the third day that light would return to the soul of man. When Jesus died, the sun shone once again, and the world seemed to return to normal. What remained was the darkness of sin. On the first day of the week, Jesus rose in the early morning to bring the light of redemption to all men so they would never live in darkness again. The land was covered with darkness three hours when Jesus was dying, but the sun came back. Jesus died and rose to show men the darkness of their eternal spirit needs the light of His love. The sun may shine brightly in the sky, giving God the glory, but when the light of Jesus Christ shines bright in a heart darkened in sin, God is glorified, and Jesus praised.
The centurion got it right when the darkness ended, and he saw Jesus give his last breath. He said, “Truly, this Man was the Son of God.” It may have worried the centurion when three hours earlier, darkness filled the land. There was no explanation and no answer. Somewhere in the heart of the centurion, he realized the crucified man in the middle was different. Jesus died, and the darkness went away. The gospel changes hearts when Jesus dies in the soul of man and takes away the blackness of sin. Light comes in death. Let the light of Jesus take away your darkness.