Summary: The holiness of God recoils from even the smallest sin. When God the Father looked down and saw His Son on the cross, He didn’t see His Son; He saw the sin that He was bearing.
[Read these passages with lights off]
Zephaniah 1:14-15: “The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there. A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness.”
Amos 5:20: “Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?”
Psalm 105:28: “He sent darkness, and made the land dark…”
Isaiah 50:3: “I clothe the heavens with blackness and make sackcloth their covering.”
Exodus 10:21-22: “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.’ So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days.”
Amos 8:9-10: “‘And on that day,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight…I will make it like the mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day.’”
Mark 15:33-41: “And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ And some of the bystanders hearing it said, ‘Behold, he is calling Elijah.’ And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’ There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.”
Mark mentions two supernatural signs that are connected to the crucifixion and Matthew adds two more.
1. Deep Darkness. Mark 15:33: “And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” From noon to 3:00 in the afternoon it became pitch black. At high noon, at a time when it was least expected, the lights went out. Or as Spurgeon put it, “It was midnight at midday.” While some try explain this away as just an eclipse, this is not possible because we know that the moon was full at Passover. On top of that, I’m not aware of any eclipse that brings total darkness for three hours! It was if God the Father placed His hands over the sun and said, “Sun, you shall not shine on my Son while He becomes the sin substitute.”
As we just heard in the passages I read, darkness is often a symbol of divine judgment. According to Exodus 10:21-23, there were three days of darkness “that could be felt” in Egypt before the first Passover lamb was slain, and now there are three hours of darkness before the Lamb of God dies for the sins of the world. The ninth plague of darkness precedes the killing of the firstborn and now deep darkness proclaims the death of God’s first-born Son.
Check this out. At the birth of Jesus a supernatural star ascended to light the way for the Magi and at His death supernatural darkness descended in the middle of the day. His birth announcement was a display of brightness at midnight and the notification of His death was deep darkness at mid-day.
2. Temple Curtain Torn. The second supernatural sign is found in verse 38: “And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” The word “torn” means, “to divide with violence, to rend or split.”
There was a place in the temple called the Holy of Holies where a thick curtain separated this inner sanctuary from the outer area. At one time the Ark of the Covenant was in the Holy of Holies. This curtain (or veil) was some 60 feet high and about four inches thick. It was said that it took 300 priests just to install it. Only one person, the high priest, was allowed to even go into this area of the temple, and then only one time a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). He actually went in twice that day – once to offer atonement through the blood of animals for his own sins and then again on behalf of the people.