Light of the World: Day Fifteen
The Sun Stops Shining
Read Mark 15:33-39
A couple summers ago, my family and I had the opportunity to tour the Wind Cave in Hot Springs, South Dakota. At one point while we were down in the depths of the earth, at the lowest point of the cave, the Park Ranger let us know that she was going to turn the lights off for 1 minute so we could “experience the cave in its natural state.” She warned us that it would feel uncomfortable as most of us had never, and never would again, experience the complete and utter absence of light. You could feel the tension and uncertainty of the 20 tourists as she said, “Ok, here we go. One, two, THREE.” And with that, we were completely enveloped in darkness for 1 minute. Our little family of 5 (our youngest wasn’t born yet) huddled together and clung to each other. It was the most uncomfortable, unpleasant minute of my life. It was a darkness that was felt. There was a huge sigh of relief and some nervous laughter once the lights were turned back on. Darkness makes us feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. Darkness is unnatural for mankind because we are so used to the sun shining.
An often-over-looked aspect of the accounts of Jesus’ death is that the sun stopped shining for 3 hours in the middle of the day (from noon – 3pm). All 3 synoptic gospels record this fact.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.
And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed.
It’s incredible the way that God wove his plan for salvation throughout the pages of the Old Testament, thousands of years before the coming of Christ. From the protoevangelium in Genesis 3:15, he promised there would be one to crush the head of the serpent and as Jesus gave his life to redeem people from the punishment of sin, he did just that.
Not only this, but even the aspect of darkness at the crucifixion is foreshadowed in the Old Testament. Recall the account of the 9th plague in Egypt: “a darkness to be felt” (Exodus 10:22-11:9). The 9th plague of darkness came before the 10th plague (the death of the firstborn) and the first Passover. Now here in the gospels we see a darkness come over the earth before Jesus, God’s Son, died on behalf of the sin of the world on Passover. Rodney Cooper says, “The darkness at Calvary was an announcement that God’s beloved Son, his firstborn, was giving his life for the sins of the world.”
As those in darkness rejected the light of the world, God the Father caused the sun to stop shining. When Jesus hung on Calvary’s tree, the Father poured out the judgment for sin upon his perfect Son, the spotless Lamb.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21
At the moment Jesus died, the curtain of the temple was torn in two. The curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. The high priest was only allowed to go into this room once a year, on the Day of Atonement; the curtain separated sinful people from a holy God. But once Jesus had completed the sacrifice of himself, that curtain was ripped in two because now, man was able to come out of the darkness and into the marvelous light of the perfect and holy God of the universe through the blood of Jesus.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…
So great were the events of the crucifixion that after Jesus died, even the Roman centurion, a gentile, said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39). The light of the world bore the weight of judgment that our sin deserves and as he did so, the Father stopped the sun from shining. As Joseph of Arimathea and the two Marys prepared Jesus’ body for burial it seems they had no idea that though it seemed the darkness had won, Sunday was coming…
Action Point: Take a moment to slowly read Matthew 27:27-54 and as you do, consider the shame, torment, and pain Jesus endured in order to secure your salvation. After meditating on these things, write out a prayer of thanks to Jesus for all he endured so that you might be made right with God.