Summary: After three hours on the cross something amazing happened. The Bible tells us that, “from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.” That would be from noon until 3:00 PM in our way of keeping time. It was a deep darkness
A CRY FROM THE DARK
Jesus spoke three times during His first three hours on the cross. First, he prayed for those who were crucifying him. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” The tense of the words indicate that Jesus prayed this prayer over and over again. He prayed for the religious leaders who had demanded his crucifixion. He prayed for the two thieves who were crucified at his side. He prayed for the Roman soldiers who carried out the terrible act. He prayed for the curiosity seekers who merely came to watch the crucifixion. He prayed for those who mocked him saying, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the king of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Moreover, he prayed for you and me because it was our sin that put Him there.
Next He spoke to the dying thief who had prayed, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus responded to his petition, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The third time Jesus spoke, He lovingly provided for His mother. Listen to John’s gospel, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”
Then after three hours on the cross something amazing happened. The Bible tells us that, “from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.” That would be from noon until 3:00 PM in our way of keeping time. It was a deep darkness! A mysterious darkness! An unexplainable darkness! A terrifying darkness!
“It must be a solar eclipse,” someone said with an uncertain voice.
“No, it can’t be,” answered another. “The moon is full. There can be no solar eclipse when the moon is full.”
“Maybe a storm is coming,” called out another.
“Perhaps, it’s a dust storm,” cried still another.
But there was no dust in the air, nor was there a storm. Yet there was darkness. Darkness at mid-day, darkness at high noon! Darkness at what was usually the brightest time of the day! How can it be?
“I’m afraid,” someone said as she began to cry.
Jesus spoke three times during His first three hours on the cross. Then there came three hours of unexplainable and terrifying darkness accompanied by a dreadful silence. Jesus spoke not a word until the end of those three long and agonizing hours of darkness. The only sound heard from the cross was that of raspy breathing as our Lord and the two dying thieves struggled for every breath. Very little was heard from the crowd. How dark the day had become from noon until around three PM. There was only darkness and silence.
Someone may have cited the book of Amos. “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day” (Amos 8:9). Then once again there was silence, a fearful silence, a dreadful silence. Silence, and more silence! Darkness and more darkness!
Suddenly, after three long and excruciating hours of darkness, Jesus broke His silence. All of a sudden, a pitiful, an agonizing, and a terrifying cry pierced the blackness. “Eli Eli lama sabach tha–ni”, which means, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? God forsaken of God, how can it be? Some who heard Jesus’ cry, misunderstood Him and thought He was calling for Elijah. They said, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.” How do we explain our Lord’s piteous cry?
In the Bible, darkness is often used as a symbol of sin, of death, and of judgment. Hell is described as a place of outer darkness. The darkness of Calvary speaks of the judgment of God against sin. Yet Jesus was the sinless Son of God. Oh, He was tempted in every way like we are tempted, yet He was completely without sin. Never once in his life did he sin. He was totally innocent. You and I are totally guilty. You and I deserved to have been on that cross. Yet there on the cross hung Jesus who was dying for every evil thing that you and I ever did and for every wicked thought we ever had. He was dying in my place and in your place. His precious blood was poured out for your sins, and mine. He took all our sin upon Himself.