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?