Summary: A sermon on the darkness at the cross from the 6th hour to the 9th hour (Seed thought and material adapted from The Six Miracles of Calvary by Nicholson)
Sermon for 2/21/2010
Are you scared of the dark? I counted the # of night lights in my house- 7. Who needs 7 night lights? When I was a bachelor I didn't have any night lights. I now have arthrits in my toes because I stubbed them so much but I was saving those pennies on the electric bill.
A. Last week we had Ash Wednesday, and thus begin the Lenten, Easter season.
B. Around the cross and empty tomb we have some surprising events that often we don’t think about. We think about the main events and this is good but there are some things that happened around the cross and empty tomb that add a lot of color to the scene.
C. The color we talk about today is in the background of the cross. It is black, or darkness. This is described in 3 gospels:
Thesis: Today we are going to ask three questions of this miracle. Where? What? And Why?
1. Where? (All the land, the Whole Land)
A. By the time the darkness came, Jesus had already hung on the cross for 3 hours, from 9 o’clock to twelve noon. At the 6th hour (at noon) darkness blanketed the land until the 9th hour (3 o’clock) in the afternoon.
B. The part of the earth that was supposed to have sunlight during that time of the day didn’t have it for 3 hours. The sun didn’t shine during the heat of the day.
C. Tertullian, a church historian, was writing to some pagan adversaries in the second century. He wrote, “At the moment of Christ’s death, the light departed from the sun and the land was darkened at noonday. This wonder is related in your (speaking to heathen adversaries) own annals and is preserved in your archives to this day.”
E. Phlegon, Roman astronomer, says of that day, “The greatest eclipse of the sun that was ever known happened then, for the day was so turned into night that the stars appeared.”
2. What? (The sun stopped shining- Luke 23:45)
B. Where did the darkness come from? What caused it?
(1) An Eclipse? This was the time of the Passover and the time of a full moon. Astronomers tell us that a solar eclipse is impossible at this time. An eclipse never occurs suddenly as did this incident and an eclipse only lasts for a few minutes--never three full hours. Tell story about in Jr. High and had an eclipse.
(2) A Natural Phenomena? Could it be a darkness like that associated with a volcanic eruption? This darkness covered the entire land and it came suddenly. Earthquakes happen with volcanic eruptions but there is no mention of ash or rocks falling.
(3) A Dust Storm or Cloud Cover? What about a dark cloud cover which suddenly rolled in or perhaps a very heavy dust storm? Again, it is unlikely because of its suddenness.
(4) An Act of God
C. If this happened the way that the Scriptures say it did, then the natural world would have been in a mess. We live in a world of delicate balance. Think about El Nino. Think about the changes that would come about if all of the sunlight stopped for 3 hours. The temperatures would plummet and this would cause changes in weather, in the water currents, in the tides. None of this is mentioned in the Scriptures. Why? Because God didn’t allow it to happen. All things are possible with God.
D. It came suddenly and ended suddenly with no warning- the turning off of a light. The Revised Standard Version says in this verse that the sun’s light failed; the New Living Translation says that the light from the sun was gone.
E. Exactly how deep or black was this darkness? We are not told but it was not the twilight fading of the sun, but an all encompassing, frighteningly sudden darkness.
F. In nature, darkness always surrenders to light. But here, the darkness of Calvary was so intense that it smothered the light. This is an amazing thing to consider.
God stopped the sun from shining to highlight three things about the cross of Christ.
1. Men love spiritual darkness
A. We do not like physical darkness, but we love spiritual darkness. (John 3:19 NIV) This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. (John 3:20 NIV) Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
B. (Eph 5:11 NIV) Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Eph 5:12 NIV) For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. (They do it in the dark, why?) (Eph 5:13 NIV) But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, (Eph 5:14 NIV) for it is light that makes everything visible.