Darkness in 3D
Mark 15:29-34 (NIV)
Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days,  come down from the cross and save yourself!”  In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!  Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.  At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? “—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Three Dimensions of Darkness
It was the darkest day in human history. God’s Son, without a trace of unrighteousness, was nailed to a rugged cross. Everything about the event was marked by sheer brutality and unbelievable cruelty. It was a day marked for eternity and shrouded in darkness. In fact, the darkness there on that hill outside Jerusalem touched the realm of the emotional, physical, and spiritual- a three-dimensional darkness, if you will.
The people present at the crucifixion were not all enemies of Jesus who wanted to see Him dead. In fact, the Gospel accounts tell us that many of his disciples, closest friends, and even His mother Mary, were there to witness his death. They were bewildered, confused, and aching to the core as they watched their beloved Rabbi, friend, and son undergo the agony and suffering of the cross. There was nothing bright and sunny about the occasion. Their tears and gasps were very real as they clung to one another during Jesus’ unbearable ordeal. How had it come to this? How could things turn out so terribly for the greatest man they had ever known? Jesus was the very Son of God! It was indeed a very dark and sorrowful day.
But there was another kind of darkness shrouding the death of Christ. Even the heavens, the physical realm, participated in the ethos of the moment. Scripture tells us that darkness covered the whole land for three hours beginning at noon. That phenomelogical event is later referenced by secular scholars such as Phlegon, Thallus, and others. The darkness was accompanied by earthquakes at the same time. No one is able to explain sufficiently from a scientific point of view how that darkness occurred. A solar eclipse would not seem plausible given the fact that Passover was celebrated during a full moon. Even so, the sun ceased to provide light for three hours during the crucifixion. Evn physically, it was a very dark day.
And Spiritually Dark
The most poignant kind of darkness observed that day was the incredible spiritual blindness on the part of many people who participated in the death of Christ. The Roman soldiers mocked him with insincere worship–dressing Him as a king and then bowing down before Him to make fun of Him. While He was hanging on the cross, many passed by and hurled insults at Him. Even the thieves crucified alongside Him heaped insults on Him. But perhaps most stunning is the fact that Israel’s religious leaders mocked Him with the words “He saved others, but He can’t save Himself!” Those who should have been the first to recognize the work of God were blind to the reality that they were mocking God Himself! The spiritual blindness of all those who ridiculed Christ might be considered to be the very darkest aspect of the crucifixion
For the disciples and followers of Jesus, that darkness would pass. Their mourning would turn to joy as they would witness the glorious resurrection of their Lord. With Jesus alive, there would be hope for the future!
Though it was an unusual occurrence which would not soon be forgotten, the physical darkness at midday would be short- lived as it yielded to the returning sunlight. As the sun would bathe the earth, there would again be hope for the future!
But for those who would remain in spiritual blindness- the worst kind of darkness-what hope could there ever be? Without Jesus, the Light of the world, their darkness would continue. Without the resurrected Savior, there would be no hope for the future.
The Good News? For those who would follow Christ, darkness gives way to God’s glorious light!
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)