In the series that started with Light and Dark – A Pattern to Explore we studied the idea that God may start with darkness and then reveal light. There is much written in the Bible on the topic of light and dark, I will do several more studies on specific books. At times it is clear that God is purposely hiding Himself from people for a reason. (I did crossover from darkness to hiding oneself.) Then there are times when He uses darkness, not in anger but to get His children to seek Him out in the darkness. The old saying “every cloud has a silver lining” holds true here – God is there right behind the darkness waiting for you.
Deuteronomy 32: 20, Jeremiah 33: 5, and Micah 3:4 are references to times when God hides Himself because the people have sinned. On the other side of that thought is Ezekiel 39: 29 when He says he will no longer hide Himself from those people. Psalmist also used/complained/realized that God hides Himself – 10: 1; 13: 1; 27: 9; 102: 2; 104: 29 are just a few examples that I found using Bible Gateways’ search engine on “Hide”.
Psalm 97: 2 brings together clouds and thick darkness with the foundation of His throne and righteousness and justice. I am going to slip back in the idea that God wants us to seek Him. This leads me to another “dark to light” idea that Jesus did many times in Scripture – He would tell people to not talk about what He did for them. This does not cover Jesus telling demons to be quiet and to not speak – He did not need their acknowledgments. In part, I believe this was to maintain a layer of “darkness” about Himself so that others would seek Him out.
TAKE AWAY – No matter how dark it is, seek Him. Maybe all you can do is raise your hands and say the name of JESUS!
There are several dark to light elements in this story that will be discussed. Jesus was sealed in a cave in the evening (Mark 15: 42). On Passover, the women rested but were out while it was dark the next day (John 20:1). The sun was rising on the first day of the week as they found the empty tomb. I wanted to leave off “of the week” because it was the first day of a new era for mankind. The light of grace had rolled away and an earthly barrier and had come out to start things anew!
It really is not right to say Jesus stayed in a dark tomb for three days. Saturday of Holy Week is often overlooked in its importance. Jesus did not come out, He went “down” to retrieve the keys that no longer could stay in Hell. Death had a job to do on the first Passover but Jesus had ended the old, so ownership of the keys was restored to Him. (Please click on Jesus Preached– it is a poem. These link with Saturdayand Holy Weekfor previous studies.) The references are Matthew 27: 67, Revelations 1:18, Ephesians 4:8, and 1 Peter 3:19, 4:6.
Another darkness that became light was the cloud on the minds of all of the followers of Jesus. The dark cloud that had covered the understanding of all the followers of Jesus was replaced with the light of understanding the Scriptures. This dawn took most of the first day, as the womensaw Him first, then Peter, the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and finally the remainingApostles. The darkness that started at the cross was replaced with the light of a risen Jesus!
Three– Jesus predicted the three days in the tomb by using Jonah’s stay in the great fish.
End and Start – The First Adam had given up a lot when he ate the fruit in the Garden. The Second Adam (Jesus) reclaimed the keys to death and Hades.
Jesus in the darkness coming into the light had been played out many times before. All of them pointed to this moment. Creation, the first Passover, God filling the Temple all gave us pictures of what was to come! He now came from the tomb to start a new picture – Jesus returning for His Bride.
The next fifty days speak to many things. Jesus stayed with the disciples for forty days (showing Himself to many). Then a ten-day period where the disciples prepared themselves and sought the coming of the Spirit.
The Spirit arriving on Pentecost shares things with Israel meeting God on the Mountain. A notable part is missing – the darkness. The Spirit arrives with fire (light) and the sound of a mighty wind. (Think about the Second Coming of Jesus.) The Church/Bride has her birthday, and Jews and Gentiles become one new creation.
FURTHER THOUGHT – Reflect on the Book of Revelations by comparing it with the Book of Acts and the time of the Church under the Caesars.
Matthew 27: 45, Mark 15: 33, Luke 22: 53 + 23: 44, John 19: 28 – 31(NIV)
From the sixth to the ninth hour there was darkness over the land! Matthew, Mark, and Luke record this event (see references above). John does not mention this part of the scene at the cross but adds other details that help to form the picture. (There is a difference in John on the “hours”. Probably due to Jewish vs. Roman timekeeping practices. It is a shame great minds have to pick the minor things and ignore the important.)
Let’s shift back to the first Passover to offer an explanation for the darkness. The lambs were to be killed at twilight. The “sixth to the ninth hour” was the timeframe for the killing of the lambs in Jesus’s day, that should have been three to six p.m. modern time, so it needed to be dark. John adds the phrase “the day of Preparation” for the Passover. I have heard many powerful sermons that included the “darkness” but, today, I will go with this more practical explanation.
Okay, going a little dramatic. Could this darkness be felt, like the darkness in the ninth plague? Can you imagine the panic even if it was just as dark as a moonless night! But to toy with my own question, I have to wonder who “sent” the darkness? God or Satan? In Luke 22: 53 Jesus tells the mob that “darkness” is reigning! This is the only place that I could find like that in the Bible. So, was it dark to complete the picture from Exodus, or because the Father was mourning, or because Satan truly was clueless to the fact he was losing and that was his poor attempt at domination, or was it to prepare for the light? How do you read it?
Now to the Light! (This is not in the Bible, but I hope it happened this way! It would look good in a movie.) Jesus had said several of His “last words” in the dark. John said He knew “all things were completed” when He asked for a drink. Then He said, “It is Finished” and gave up His spirit. When Jesus said it is finished, I can see a beam of light punching through the darkness as He bowed His head. At first, the light was just on Jesus. Then it started to spread out from Him until it covered the land that had been in darkness. That light shook the ground, when it spread over tombs it reversed death, and when it hit the Temple one really thick curtain tore in two pieces and light up an empty room. Oh well, nothing that dramatic is recorded but at that time of year, there should have been several more hours of daylight.
Three– There are several (probably more):
From the first Passover – three sides of the door painted with blood. Foretells the cross.
Three hours of darkness as the Lamb was dying.
Three men on crosses – the thieves could represent the sheep and goats at the Judgment; the arrogant thief = Law and the repentant thief = Grace, Jesus is in the middle of all of these.
Three groups of on-lookers
Passersby– People hurrying to get to Jerusalem for the Feast; Priest who came just to torment and mock Jesus. They saw but learned nothing.
Soldiers– They had to be there. The centurion, at least, learned that Jesus was the Son of God. You have to wonder if his name was Cornelius? They probably learned the most, simply because they knew the least.
The Women and John– They choose to be there. Grief, horror, and questions filled their minds overwhelming their understanding of what was happening. Who could not be affected by the moment? They knew Jesus had told them, but they did not comprehend in the trial. Did they learn? I am sure they did, but this took time to process. The effects of the lesson developed over the next fifty days. It prepared them for Pentecost.
End and Start –The Law ended/was fulfilled and Grace took center stage. No matter what I thought to write it always came back to that thought. FURTHER THOUGHT – Our redemption from sin is finished because Jesus paid the price on the cross! In our lives, there are “things” that we need to offer to God so that we can follow Jesus more completely. We refer to this as crucifying them! Sometimes we freely offer them, sometimes God starts the process, in both cases, we have to let the things die. What is one thing you were in the “dark” about as it died and what was the “light” as the result?
Jonah was in a fish! It was dark in there! Him being spit out put him back into light. This signals the time Jesus would spend in the grave. The first mention of Jonah is in 2 Kings 14: 25 where he is credited with a prophesy that came true, the story of the Book of Jonah would have been after this.
The thing that leaves you hanging about Jonah is what happened to him? Did he repent of the harsh attitude, did he go back to Israel, or did he just stay bitter?
Peter was identified as “bar Jonah” or son of Jonah. It would be a stretch to say they were related! Matthew 16: 17 does not seem to imply that Jesus was being “funny”, so that probably was Peter’s name. Peter may have had similar traits as Jonah (hard-headed, impulsive, teachable but slow to change), so we can hope that Jonah returned to God like Peter did.
Three– Three days and three nights is the most notable part of Jonah’s ordeal. That is because it has three references in the New Testament – two different times in Matthew (12: 41 + 16: 4) and one repeat in Luke (11: 29). Jesus offered it as the only sign from heaven that unbelieving Jews would get. I noticed that there were three “God provided” after Jonah preached to Nineveh – the plant, the worm, and the wind. There was also a three day walk across the city.
The study of Solomon, Jesus walking on water, and this one, all have connections to the festivals that happen in the seventh month”. (Jonah is read as an example of repenting and reaching out to a Gentile nation.)
End and Start – Jonah’s time in the fish ended his disobedience and started his journey to face his fear of being labeled a “false prophet” if Nineveh was not destroyed. At this time in history, Assyria was oppressing Israel and would send a replacement population to occupySamaria. So, Jonah had serious reasons, in his mind, why he was not going to do it (hatred of Assyria, fear of being a false prophet). Even though other prophets had dealings with foreign nations this was the first prophet that was specifically sent to an enemy nation telling them to repent!
Matthew 14: 25, Mark 6: 48, John 6: 16, Luke 9: 10
The timeframe of this story in Jesus’ ministry and the setting of this event are very important. The dark part is easily shown, it is the light part that I am going out on a limb with so please bear with me. The mighty wonder of Jesus walking on water occurs right after the miraculous feeding of the 5000 men + women and children. It occurs on Lake Galilee during one of the frequent storms that happen on the lake. Mark and Matthew tell us it happened during the fourth watch of the night. This Hebrew term places it after 3 a.m. and before sunrise (In Roman terminology it was the 3rdwatch.) A dark stormy night
Rembrandt Storm on Galilee
in the middle of a lake, how did they see the “ghost”. John said they “saw Jesus” your eye works off of light, where did it come from?
I think Jesus brought His own light or His angel was lighting the way! We all glow with infrared-light and in just a little while He would shine with His glory in the Transfiguration. The disciples were “straining” at the oars not looking around on a pleasant sail across Galilee. This entire episode carries many things in common with the Exodus – bread and fish (manna and quail) and possible “pillar of fire by night” (Jesus). In just a few months He will be going to Jerusalem to die. How better to focus His disciples for the days ahead?
Studying this event, in its placement on the timeline of Jesus’ ministry definitely shows that preparations for His death and the Church He was founding were underway. There are three major events that will help you see this:
Jesus sent out the Twelve on their first solo mission trip.
John the Baptist, the greatest Old Testament prophet, is killed by Herod.
I studied Jesus as the Master Teacher and saw in the Gospel of Mark a learning cycle with a reteach sequence. Jesus’ statement of “You give them something to eat” in Mark 6: 37 was the exam for their mission trip. Jesus walking on the water started the reteach cycle that ended with the feeding of the 4000, as the retest.
Three– The “three” here can be several things. John says they rowed three or three and a half miles (6: 19). Jesus was in His third year of ministry, just before His death. If you use the Roman system of watches, it was in the third watch.
End and Start – The fact that all of the Gospel writers include the feeding of the 5000, thus the walking on the water (Luke only tells the feeding, not the walking), makes this very important. John, the last eye-witness to write a Gospel, focuses his work around seven major miracles that prove Jesus was the Son of God. He connects back to Passover/Exodus with the crowd wanting Jesus to always feed them with manna and the Feast of Tabernacles. John continues with the raising of Lazarus that leads to parade into Jerusalem. The other writers tell the stories of the Transfiguration and the Gentile woman. Luke adds the sending out of the seventy-two on mission trips. All of these things would have been part of the preparations for the Church to grow after Pentecost.
John the Baptist’s death was the end of the Old Testament prophets thus allowing for the start of the New! I have the feeling that these events, feeding and walking, signal a new start/phase in Jesus’ ministry. As I have already said, the connects with the first Passover/Exodus are numerous. So, if these are a prelude for a “new” the events of the first Passover would be mirrored. What about the Red Sea? (I am smiling here!) Jesus did not walk through the water, He walked on the water!
FURTHER THOUGHT – Storms, we tend (I tend) to see them as not good. Seldom do you/I think we are walking on top of the problem. Think back to “advances in your life”, did you have a storm just before it?