The Darkness

“From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ (Which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’)” (Matthew 27:45-46 NIV)

This is our Savior, our Jesus, as He is hanging on the cross and crying out to God. Can you imagine what the people standing by and witnessing this thought when darkness overcame the land? Were they scared? Did they think the world was ending? Did they realize that Jesus must have been the Messiah? I have so many questions. I’ll be honest- I have skipped over this section of the Easter story many times. I have even wrongly assumed this darkness happened when Jesus gave up His Spirit to the Father. But here in this scripture, the words plainly state this darkness overcame the land while Jesus was on the cross, alive and still in suffering.

There are so many scientific guesses on what may have caused darkness in those hours. Was it an eclipse? Was it a dark cloud that covered the area? Did God somehow stop the sun from shining? We don’t know what caused this period of darkness. But here is what I do know: there was a purpose for it. I’ll be honest, this subject was a hard one to process. I am (usually) a bright and optimistic person, but the darkness of the crucifixion is harsh and gut wrenching. In my studying and digging, God took me all over the Bible in searching for a deeper understanding of what exactly took place during those three hours of darkness. Follow me as we dig in together.

#1 God created darkness and separated it from light.

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Genesis 1:2-3 NIV)

I believe that God created everything. Yes, everything… even darkness. Right away we see that God separated the light from darkness. They take turns in creation, and each one serves a distinct purpose in life. The separation of light and darkness is the first thing God did in the creation story, and spiritually speaking, they cannot exist together. This is so important in the way we live our lives. The truth is we are either pointing people towards the light or the dark. There should be no grey in the way we live our lives.

#2 Darkness can be felt and used as judgement and punishment

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt – darkness that can be felt.’” (Exodus 10:21 NIV)

Three days of darkness was the ninth plague that God sent to Egypt through Moses. It wasn’t just any darkness but a “darkness that can be felt.” What do you think darkness feels like? Does it feel scary, suffocating, and painful? I think it’s all of those things and more. To me, darkness is lonely. The enemy does his best work when we are alone and in the dark. We have all probably felt darkness at some point in our lives. Can you imagine what days and days of darkness is like? Or what about an eternity of darkness?

God used darkness here as a judgement and punishment for the way the Egyptians and Pharaoh consistently chose to ignore God. The Egyptians worshipped a son god. This was further proof that their god was powerless against our Creator.

#3 Darkness (sin) cannot exist in the presence of God.

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5 NIV)

In this verse, sin is referred to as darkness. Just as there is no light in the darkness, there is no sin in the presence of our Holy God. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we get to enter into the presence of God on day.

Now that we have a better understanding of how darkness was used in the Bible, let’s go back to Jesus on the cross. The three hours of darkness that everyone experienced during His agony has so much meaning. Let’s review!

God created darkness and light and separated it. They never go together.

Jesus is our light, but in the hours of darkness, He had to take on the darkness of our sin.

In that moment, His Father had to separate himself from His Son because sin doesn’t live in the presence of God. In that moment, our darkness of sin was felt by Jesus – it was so heavy that he cried out, “My God, my God Why have you forsaken me?” It wasn’t a moment of wavering faith but of anguish. In that moment, the weight and punishment of my sin and your sin was on His shoulders.

Could these hours of darkness be the exact moments that the Father had to completely separate from His son? The punishment of the world was upon Him, and given what we know about darkness, was this the moment God had to separate Himself from the Son? Was He lonely as darkness fell over the land in the last hours of His agony? Jesus took on the sins of the world in every part of His suffering. But I think we can use what we know about darkness to give us an unsettling picture of what Jesus was going through at that point.

I know this is heavy, and honestly it brings me to tears to think about my Savior taking on so much pain because of my sin. But there is good news! For Christians, we get to step into the light.

Jesus took on darkness in the form of our sins so that we would never have to.

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12 NIV)

Jesus took on darkness in the form of judgement so that we would never have to.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1 NIV)

Jesus took on darkness in the form of separation from God so that we would never have to.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’” (Revelation 21:3-4 NIV)

Dear Jesus,

I see that in these hours of darkness You took on every weight and sin of mine and the rest of the world. I can only imagine the heartache as You were separated from the Father. Lord, let me never take for granted what You did so that I may never have separation from You! Thank you for taking on my darkness so that I may have light and eternity with You. As I reflect on how You did all of this for me, I can’t help but think of the immeasurable amount of love You have for us. Thank you Jesus! We love You and praise You. Amen.

Written by Amanda May

Amanda lives in West Monroe with her husband Brent and 3 kids. She works for Varsity Spirit as the Louisiana State Director. She is a member of Fair Park Baptist Church where she severs as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator and loves encouraging women through God’s Word. She loves all things sports and gameday related and has a vision of bringing people to God’s word through the shared interest of sports.

One Reply to “The Darkness”

  1. Oh Amanda, what depth your writing has , it makes me know that just as we don’t like darkness, Jesus also struggled with darkness and separation. But as horrible and ugly Friday was , Sunday is here with all its majesty and light ! I’m so proud of you and I love you ! Mimi

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