Summary: The end of God's wrath demonstrated by the darkness and alienation from God was actually a beginning of many things.
Finally we come to the end of today’s sermon series. Yes we can all go back home and get back to our day to day activities. We can all get back to our planning for the Easter celebrations. We can all start thinking about new beginnings.
That is exactly what I have titled this portion of the message today. End before a new Beginning.
In the passage before us, we actually get to witness the wrath of God in one of its fiercest forms. We see darkness engulfing the whole earth during broad daylight. We see the most bizarre act of God, where the Father turns away His face from His own son, because of all the sin that the son is carrying. Darkness and alienation from God are the worst forms of expressing God’s wrath. And wrath is what we deserved for all our sins. But what actually happens is the end of God’s wrath here. When we look into the Old Testament sacrifices, we see God’s wrath coming down as fire, and burning up the sacrifices offered to God. Examples can be seen in Leviticus 9:24 (quickview) 2 Chronicles 7:1 (quickview) 1 Kings 18:38 (quickview) . And in those cases the fire coming down and consuming the sacrifice is always a sign of acceptance of the sacrifice by the Lord. So here, the darkness and the rejection that Jesus experienced is nothing but the wrath of God coming down and accepting the final sacrifice. The fire that should have fallen upon us, the sinners, fell upon the sinless, who was the sacrifice, God’s own son, and consumed him as a token of acceptance of the final sacrifice. This is an end to the practice of offering sacrifices and burnt offerings. This is the final sacrifice that was made.
And this end heralded a number of new beginnings. It was the end of separation of the Holy of Holies from common man and the beginning of a personal relationship with God the almighty. That is what happened when the temple curtain was torn. It was the beginning of a new light coming into the world (I am the light..) and the darkness being defeated permanently. It was the beginning of the proclamation (even by gentiles that He is truly the Son of God ( as the centurion exclaimed). It was the beginning of people losing their fear, as demonstrated by Joseph of Arimathea , who picked up the courage to go to Pilate and ask for the body of Jesus.
So you see the cross is not the end. It is the beginning. A beginning of new life.
Let me close by quoting from Billy Graham
In the cross of Christ I see three things: First, a description of the depth of man's sin. Do not blame the people of that day for hanging Christ on the cross. You and I are just as guilty. It was not the people or the Roman soldiers who put Him to the cross—it was your sins and my sins that made it necessary for Him to volunteer this death.
Second, in the cross I see the overwhelming love of God. If ever you should doubt the love of God, take a long, deep look at the cross, for in the cross you find the expression of God's love.