Summary: Jesus bore our sin in His boy on the cross and suffered in our place.
1. Why did darkness cover the whole land (v. 33)?
The Bible says a thick darkness covered the land for three hours, from noon until three in the afternoon, when the sun would ordinarily be at its height and shining its brightest. Some have supposed this darkness was from an solar eclipse a great rain storm and cloud cover. But even if natural means brought about the darkness, it was for a supernatural purpose. The supernatural nature of this darkness was prophesied.
“In that day,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight.” - Amos 8:9 (NIV)
2. What made Jesus cry out as He did (v. 34)?
A. We want to understand the motivation behind our Lord’s cry.
The Bible tells us that Jesus “cried out in a loud voice.” In other words, He screamed. We find this significant because despite all the suffering He had experienced up to this point, He had maintained His composure. Not once had He cried out in anguish, despite being betrayed and forsaken by those closest to Him; despite being unjustly tried, convicted, and publicly humiliated; and despite being scourged, beaten, forced to carry a heavy cross to His place of execution, and nailed to that cross as He was crucified. Yet, once the three hours of darkness passed, for the first time through-out this ordeal, Jesus cried out. We would like to understand the motivation behind our Lord’s cry.
B. We want to understand the meaning behind our Lord’s cry.
Verses 35 and 36 tell us that those who stood nearby didn’t understand the meaning of our Lord’s cry. They thought He was calling for the prophet Elijah for help. What Jesus did was quote Psalm 22:1. We want to know why. Well, in answering these questions, we need to understand why Jesus came and what Jesus did.
1. Why Jesus came.
Jesus came to give His life as a payment for our sin (Mark 10:45). When God made man, it was intended for man to enjoy constant communion with Him, so he might live in such a way as to bring glory to his creator. And as the head of the earthy sphere of God’s creation, man was to lead all the earth to bring glory to its creator. But God also made man with ability to choose.
You see, love isn’t love unless freely given, and God wanted a love relationship with man. So He gave man the ability to choose and an opportunity to choose. What man chose, was to go his own way, rather than God’s way, which is what the Bible calls “sin.”
God said if man chose his own way rather than God’s way, he’d know death. Literally, God said, “dying you will die.” He’d immediately know spiritual death (no communion with God - the source of all life) and eventually know physical death. And since Adam’s choice was made on behalf of the human race, everyone born into this world is born into sin and under condemnation. But Jesus came to reverse the curse, to make a way to escape sin’s consequences and condemnation. Jesus came to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves.
“There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.” - Romans 3:11 (NIV)
We didn’t understand our problem, so God took the initiative - He took on human form to come where we were. And because we couldn’t provide the solution, God made payment for our sin penalty Himself - by going to the cross to suffer in our place.
Oswald Chambers writes, “In the Cross we may see the dimensions of divine love.” Indeed, love takes the initiative and bears the burden necessary to make a relationship right. That’s what God did for us in Christ. You see, the cross of Christ was not just an instrument of execution, it was also an instrument of exhibition - through the cross we have exhibited the love of God for a lost world. For you and me.
2. What Jesus did.
A. Jesus reversed the curse.
The wrath due us was poured out against the sins He bore in His body on the cross (1 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24). By His cross, He overcame the penalty of spiritual death; and by His resurrection, He overcame physical death. Jesus reversed the effects of Adam’s choice!
Now we can understand why darkness covered the earth and why Jesus cried out as He did. When He suffered for our sins, and it was as though the universe went into mourning. It was as if the sun refused to shine. It was as if what was taking place on the cross was so dark that creation itself couldn’t bear to look.