Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Darkness

"It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two." -Luke 23:44-45 (NIV)

It's Spring break time here. I for one greatly appreciate the fact that our school system schedules the time off late enough that northern Ohio actually begins to show signs of the new season. The weather is getting warmer, flowers are beginning to come up, lawns are turning green and the sun is actually shining again! Today we had temperatures in the low 70's and my daughters spent most of the day on a picnic with their Grandma. Their timing was perfect, because not long after they got back home, it started to rain.

I had spent part of the afternoon holed up in our basement family room reading a book for one of my classes, so I was surprised at how quickly it had gotten cloudy. But I guess I didn't have any reason to be shocked; weather is pretty unpredictable this time of the year. It really isn't unusual to have sunshine and blue skies turn into clouds and rain.

Maybe that's why the darkness that is described at the time of Jesus' death sometimes seems to get overlooked or trivialized in our minds- as if it was just God's version of "dramatic lighting." Now don't misunderstand me; I know the darkness is just a part of the overall story of Christ's death. But it's a part that has significance.

All the gospel writers that talk about it say that the darkness "came over the whole land." We're not talking about a gloomy day or isolated cloud cover; they are literally saying that it got dark everywhere. As if it were night.

At about noon.

And it stayed that dark for three hours.

When God alters something about creation itself to make a point, it's more than a detail.

Don't believe me? Talk to Noah.

It's pretty interesting to note other places in Scripture that talk about the sun giving way to sudden darkness are usually referring to a time of God's judgement (Joel 2:10, 30-31 or Amos 8:9). Jesus is carrying the weight of every sin that has already been committed and every one that ever will be in the future. The penalty He is choosing to pay will cost nothing less than His perfect life as a sacrifice. When you stop and think about it, it makes sense. God chose to darken the sun to parallel the immense darkness that was being heaped on His Son.

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." -2Cor. 5:21

Take a moment and imagine that scene. The wind is blowing on the hilltop. The crowd is shouting insults at Jesus. The soldiers are gambling for His clothes. The religious leaders are smug as they talk to the crowd and each other.

Then, darkness.

It's amazing to me, but none of the authors record any sudden reactions from the crowd. It's as if they simply refuse to recognize it. What do you think was happening? Were they standing around uneasily, trying to pass this amazing event off as a change in the weather? How could they not realize that this darkness was a result of their actions; their sin; their darkness?

I suppose it's what keeps you and I from realizing the same thing, or at least from remembering it.

I am not suggesting that you should live in guilt, as if God hasn't forgiven you- if you are in Christ, your debt is paid. Period. But it is easy to begin to take something valuable for granted if we forget how much it cost.

This week as you celebrate Christ's resurrection, remember the darkness and the cost- and let that remind you of your rescue, and of grace!

In Him We Live,

Jeff

3 comments:

Fred said...

The entire time I was reading this, I was thinking back to Jesus' baptism and how he was coming up out of the water and saw heaven being torn open and the spirit descending like a dove.

Putting this up right next to the darkness of the sky at the time of crucifixion. Jesus experienced what everyone goes through in their acceptance/conversion/baptism/union with God and then experiences the eerie darkness of distance with God due to the impurity that Jesus took upon Himself.

incredible.

whooper and whoopette said...

On Weds. April 4th, I had some oral surgery. It proved to be more invasive than I had expected. I don’t like dentists, dental work, or being at a dentist’s without my hubby. But, I was experiencing all of the above on Weds. The weather forecast was for rain to show up about 3 p.m. It was 7:45 a. m.
At about 8:00, it suddenly became intensely dark, thunder roared, and a major downpour began. In fact, in Kingsville, TX, a roof collapsed due to extreme weight of water. They reported many inches of rain in some areas around Kingsville. The electrical power for almost all of Rockport ceased.
That means that in the middle of my oral surgery, there was no light for the dentist to complete the procedure. Suddenly, I could hear Billy Crystal as he talked to his child’s elementary class. “You’ll have an operation. They’ll call it a procedure but it’s an operation.” Next I visualized that kid’s game: Operation. It was so easy to remove the offending part without causing the buzzer to sound the alarm. Yet, here I was with all my mental alarms warning me of “Danger Will Robinson. Danger!”
My friend Susie, the office manager, left the office, went to her car during the downpour, and retrieved a flashlight from her glove box. She donned a mask, entered my cubicle, and assisted the dentist and the hygienist as they completed my procedure via flashlight. As he sewed up my incisions with four stitches, he told me what a great patient I was. He said that I had kept still during the whole thing and that allowed him to do his job. Susie echoed the same sentiment.
They couldn’t raise the chair for me to get out because there was no electricity. I pried my fingers off of the chair arms and headed for the door feeling a bit dizzy and blinded by the lack of light in the hallway. Susie had already moved to the next cubicle with the dentist to assist with the next procedure.
The rain and thunder had subsided a bit but as I drove to my apartment there were no traffic lights functioning, no street lights, and severe darkness. I went home to rest. There were nearly no cars on the rode. People had stayed inside to avoid the danger.
I still don’t like dentists, dental work, and I don’t like darkness either. I would have gnashed my teeth but it would have caused too much pain. I don’t think I would like to be in a place with weeping and gnashing of teeth. I thank God that through Jesus, I won’t have to experience that.
Next time, I will make sure to take my hubby.

Damon said...

Is it possible the authors could not record the reactions of the crowd because they could not see the reactions? They did not have automatic lights like we do today.

God is good and he gave us the most perfect gift. A gift I can never repay. The darkness is still alive today in every person that does not believe in the risen Savior. No automatic lights. Just because we live in this nation does not mean we are Christians.