INTRO: 1. I want to draw your attention to an oft overlooked event that took place at Calvary.
2. Jesus had already, in broad daylight, hung upon that cross for three hours—from 9 in the morning to noon.
a. There can be no doubt of his crucifixion, countless witnesses testify to that fact.
3. But at noon something both extremely disturbing and awe inspiring took place…darkness covered the land, like a blanket.
a. This was no ordinary event, not merely an overcast day, or storm clouds moving in.
b. Such a unforgettable darkness that it is specifically mentioned by three out of the four gospel accounts.
4. This darkness was unique in it’s intensity.
a. In all three gospel accounts, they all use the same greek word for this “darkness.”
b. ‘Skotos’ is derived from the greek word ‘ska’ which means ‘to cover.’ It literally means the exact opposite of light. The absence of light. Total darkness.
c. Darkness literally fell upon them, leaving them in pitch black…had it not been for the torches that they stumbled around to light there would be no light.
d. The Lord they had mocked and scorned and watched upon that cross was now hidden by the darkness from their eyes.
5. This darkness was unique in it’s timing.
a. It descended at the brightest point of the day… high noon.
ILL. As Spurgeon said… “It was midnight at midday.”
b. In the middle of an ordinary day—the city was plunged into darkness.
6. This darkness was unique in it’s duration.
a. This was not a passing cloud blown in by the wind.
b. Three hours this darkness blotted out the sun.
c. No doubt terror struck the hearts of those ancient peoples who wondered if because of what they did to this Messiah would have forever left them in darkness.
d. Luke in his account says…
Luke 23:48 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.
e. It was a truly a disturbing even tormenting darkness.
7. This darkness was unique in it’s Scope.
a. Luke points out that this darkness was “over all the earth.”
b. Remember this was passover, when the moon was full…a time of year that eclipses couldn’t happen.
c. This was more than a natural darkness, but a supernatural one.
d. Foreign nations ran confused in this darkness…they would never forget this day.
e. For the first time since God declared “Let there be light” the entire world was engrossed in darkness.
8. We need to realize as they did that this darkness was unique in it’s significance.
a. It was clear to many that day that this darkness didn’t come by happenstance.
b. It was clearly the result of who they had hanging on that center cross.
c. No doubt many in the land that had little time to consider what was being done outside of Jerusalem’s walls, but no matter what they where doing before in the darkness they paused & realized something significant was taking place.
9. I am here to declare to you this morning that this darkness was more than merely a dramatic setting for Calvary, but held spiritual and eternal significance as well.
I. IT WAS HELL’S HOUR
a. We must never forget that the Cross was a battleground for the eternal souls of men.
b. Because of what the rest of the book tells us we know that the cross was far more than a physical reality, it was in fact a spiritual reality as well.
c. What really happened at the place of the skull was far more than the eye can see.
d. But I believe that God allowed this pitch darkness to serve as an object lesson for us all on the darkness that descended on Golgotha.
e. The same word used here for “darkness” is the very same word they used when talking of spiritual darkness as well.
f. Hear the words of Jesus as they came to take him from the garden, after healing the servant of the high priests ear…
Luke 22:53 When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
A. IT’S THE PLACE OF HELL’S ASSAULT
1. On Calvary, Hell would unleash its’ greatest attack against that “Man of Sorrows.”
2. It was a time of fierce assault as all the forces of hell was unleashed against our Lord.
3. I believe that not only did Jesus hear the mocks and scorns of evil men, but I believe the demonic forces of Hell chided and tormented our Lord as well.
4. Not only had the roman soldiers and the crowds gathered at Calvary, but I believe Hell’s generals and Satan himself came to gloat and came to add to the burden of our Suffering Savior.
B. IT’S SEALED SATAN’S FINAL HOUR
1. But what Satan thought was his finest hour, would turn out to be his final hour.
1 Cor. 2:7-8 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
2. We don’t look ahead for our victory, we look behind for our victory…victory was won at Calvary!
3. What he did at Calvary signed Satan’s eviction notice in blood, and soon it will be served.
4. We don’t say “Satan you will be defeated” we declare legally by the blood “Satan you ARE defeated!”
Col. 2:14-15 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
5. He gave the powers of darkness their home field advantage and defeated darkness in darkness.
II. IT WAS THE HOUR OF GOD’S JUDGEMENT
a. Darkness has always been connected in the scriptures with God’s judgement.
ILL. Remember before the first passover in Egypt there where three days of darkness.
b. And now before this lamb died the judgment of God would be revealed.
c. Calvary was the place where God’s law and wrath was fully and completely satisfied.
d. We can see fulfilled the words of the prophet Amos
Amos 8:9-10 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: And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.
e. As three o'clock struck Jesus broke the silence and cried giving us insight into what had been happening in that utter darkness as he cried…“My God, my God, why has though forsaken me.”
A. WHEN HE TOOK OUR SIN UPON HIMSELF
1. The cry of dereliction is a quote from Psalms 22:1.
2. This cry tells us that he felt the full burden of humanities sin.
3. Our substitute…who now faced every sin, every indignity, every unthinkable, indescribable evil of the human heart.
2 Cor. 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
4. The sins of man that we shutter even today to talk about was heaped upon Him there.
5. He felt the evil of murder, the violence of rape, the senseless cruelty of mankind, the emptiness, the shame, the hatred, the anger, the confusion—all of the filth of sin at once.
6. At this point he completely identified with we sinners, he felt sins evil darkness.
ILL. Chuck Swindoll wrote: “If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer. But our greatest need was forgiveness, So God sent us a Savior!
B. WHERE HE ENDURED GOD’S WRATH FOR US.
1. Jesus was in fact being punished, not for his guilt, but for ours.
2. The verdict of sin is death and he took our verdict upon himself there in the darkness.
3. Utter darkness is a mark of Hell, the place of torment, that awaited us all, but Jesus would face the torment of hell so that as many as would believe would never have to.
4. The greatest punishment for Jesus was that at this point He felt the real abandonment of the Father.
5. The darkness of sin is not the torment, but the absence of God in our lives.
6. His joy was communion with God—that joy was now God, and he was in the dark.
7. It was not the crown of thorns, not the nails, not the tormentors from Hell that caused Him to cry from the cross, but that sense of hanging there alone… for three dark hours rejected by men and rejected by God.
8. All that could comfort Him was gone.
9. As dark as those three hours where they where not as dark as the soul of the Man of Sorrows.
ILL. I believe that at this point even heaven stood silent…never had the angels witnessed something so disturbing and yet so significant.
III. THE HOURS THAT WAS DARKEST BEFORE THE DAWN
a. See how darkness stayed until Jesus spoke…then the darkness gave way to the light.
b. I am reminded of the last time darkness covered the whole earth, a time when the earth was void and chaos reigned, but the voice of God brought order back from chaos and light out of darkness.
c. Sin had caused a world to be again chaotic and out of control, but then it heard a cry from the cross and all was changed.
d. It’s the drama of the ages…out of the darkness came the light.
John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
e. That new dawn brought some instant benefits to light.
A. DAWN OF UNLIMITED ACCESS
1. When that light again flooded that day, Jesus had cried out to the father—the veil in the temple is rent in two.
2. That which had separated us from the father was now removed.
3. The meeting place for God would no longer be in a temple, or even a building, but in Christ.
4. This curtain was not an ordinary curtain.
5. It was 60 feet long and 30 feet high and about two inches thick.
6. It was said it took 300 priests just to install it.
7. That huge veil served as a constant reminder to the priests working in the temple of the impossibility of gaining access to God.
8. But now as the light again flooded the dark streets of Jerusalem, the earth went into convulsions and the veil in the temple ripped in two.
9. Not an ordinary ripping but from the top down, revealing it was by the very hand of God that removed that which had for generations stood between us and God.
10. That torn curtain declares… “The way to God is now open.”
ILL. Following the Civil War, a dejected confederate soldier was sitting outside the grounds of the White House. A young boy approached him and inquired why he was so sad. The soldier related how he had repeatedly tried to see President Lincoln to tell him why he was unjustly deprived of certain lands in the South following the war. On each occasion as he attempted to enter the White House, the guards crossed their bayoneted guns in front of the door and turned him away. The boy motioned to the old soldier to follow him. When they approached the entrance, the guards came to attention, stepped back and opened the door for the boy. He proceeded to the library where the President was resting and introduced the soldier to his father. The boy was Tad Lincoln. The soldier had gained an audience with the President through the President’s son.
11. I also declares “God is no longer hidden!”
12. We can see Him in that crucified Christ.
B. DAWN OF VICTORY
1. Luke said he “cried with a loud voice.”
2. We get our word “megaphone” from the two greek words used to describe his cry here.
3. It revealed that Jesus didn’t die from physical agony, he didn’t die in weakness…he still had the strength for that victorious cry “It is finished!”
4. Because of this many scholars point out that he didn’t die from physical agony, but from spiritual agony.
5. When the roman soldier pierced his heart, blood and water spewed forth… the sign of a ruptured heart.
6. Our Lord literally died from a broken heart.
7. He is no stranger to heartbreak, but he came to do more than sympathize with us…but to overcome for us.
8. After facing all that Hell and the forces of darkness could give Him, after facing the filth of sin and the wrath of God— he cried out as a champion on the eternal battlefield… “It is finished!”
9. For sin, for judgement, for darkness, for emptiness, for shame… “It is finished!”
ILL. From Daily Encounter comes this story by a Chaplain Robinson: “In 1949, my father had just returned from the war. On every highway you could see soldiers in uniform hitchhiking home to their families. The thrill of the reunion with his family was soon overshadowed by my grandmother’s illness. There was a problem with her kidneys. The doctors told my father that she needed a blood transfusion immediately or she would not live through the night. Grandmother’s blood type was AB negative, a very rare type. In those days there were no blood banks like there are today. No one in the family had that type blood and the hospital had not been able to find anyone with that rare type. The Doctor gave our family little hope. My Dad decided to head home for a little while to change clothes and then return for the inevitable good-byes. As my father was driving home he passed a soldier in uniform hitchhiking. Deep in grief, my father was not going to stop. But something compelled him to pull over. The soldier climbed in but my father never spoke. He just continued driving down the road toward home. The soldier could tell my father was upset as a tear ran down his cheek. The soldier asked about the tear. My father began telling the stranger that his mother was going to die because the hospital couldn’t find anyone who could donate AB negative blood. My father explained that he was just heading home to change clothes. That is when he noticed the soldier’s open hand holding dog tags that read AB negative. The soldier told my father to turn the car around and head back to the hospital. My grandmother lived until 1996, 47 more years. To this day my family doesn’t know the name of that soldier. My father wonders if that stranger really was a soldier or if he was an angel in uniform.”
10. Only Jesus could provide the blood type we needed to give us eternal life.
III. THE HOUR OF CREATION’S CRY
a. Creation had a hand in the entire life of Jesus…the star of bethlehem…the obeying of his voice.
b. Although what happened there that day was supernatural, I do believe that the natural had a hand in what took place.
c. It was as if all of earth and the universe sympathized with it’s creator and grieved.
d. Matthew spoke of the earth quaking and the rocks rending.
A. THE CREATOR WAS HANGING THERE
1. We must remember that not only was the Savior and Messiah hanging on that tree, but the creator was hanging there as well.
2. I’m reminded of the powerful words from a hymn we sing around here…
ILL. “Well might the sun in darkness hide, And shut his glories in, When God, the mighty Maker died For man, the creature’s sin.”
3. Truly the God of nature was expiring.
4. Oh, what an unforgettable day that even this earth would not pass without recognizing.
CONCLUSION: One thing that truly troubles me, is that after Jesus spoke and the skies lit up again…they who where trembling moments before is now back to mocking Jesus again.
Signs and wonders, even tragedies will never turn some hearts to Jesus.
Don’t be in that crowd this morning.
God doesn’t owe you another chance, He’s given to you His all already.