Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller

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Why Darkness at the Cross?

Mark 15:33-34

Mark 15:33   When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lemá sabachtháni?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Darkness fell from noon to 3pm – what was it?

  • Eclipse? Maximum time 7 ½ minutes. Occurred at noon at a full moon (Passover - when the moon is opposite the sun, not blocking it)
  • It was not caused by the absence of the sun but an absence of light
  • Examples from the Old Testament:
    • As Passover reminds the Jews of their flight from Egypt, there was darkness there as one of the plagues (a darkness that could be felt - Exodus 10:21-23 (the last plague before the death of the firstborn—Passover, Exodus 14:20 – separated the Egyptian army from the children of Israel – also Joshua 24:7 “He put darkness between you and the Egyptians”)
    • Darkness and terror filled Abram just as God was about to “cut” a covenant with him—a covenant that God performed Himself basically saying that if either party violates it, it is God who will be “cut” (Genesis 15:12)
  • It occurred as God separated Himself from Jesus (“my God my God why have You forsaken Me?”). God turned His back on Jesus so He’d never turn His back on you. God put on Him the iniquities of us all (Isaiah 53).
  • It’s interesting to note that the last 3 hours of Jesus’ life were spent in darkness.
  • Though the hours preceding this were filled with noise and taunts and prayers and conversation, these three hours were completely silent

This was actually prophesied:

Amos 8:9        And in that day—

                        this is the declaration of the Lord GOD—

            I will make the sun go down at noon;

            I will darken the land in the daytime.

10       I will turn your feasts into mourning

            and all your songs into lamentation;

            I will cause everyone to wear sackcloth

            and every head to be shaved.

            I will make that grief

            like mourning for an only son

            and its outcome like a bitter day.

  • There is a theme of darkness and light in John’s gospel

John 1:4   Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men.

5 That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.

John 3:19   “This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.

So what did the darkness signify?

  1. The darkness was a rejection of the perfect Messiah by the Jews and by Rome
  2. The darkness signified a day that will live forever and never be forgotten
  3. The darkness struck fear in the hearts of Jesus’ enemies and a wake up call to everyone (Mark 15:39 – the centurion declared “This truly was God’s Son”
  4. It was a foretaste of everlasting darkness to those who continue in their unbelief (Matthew 8:21 – Outer darkness).
  5. It was a visible manifestation of God’s judgment against sin, making Jesus “who knew no sin to be sin for us” (2 Cor 5:21)
  6. The last hours of Jesus’ life were too precious for human eyes to see.

Without leaving us without any hope, here is a hint of what’s to come:

Psa. 30:5 For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor, a lifetime. Weeping may spend the night, but there is joy in the morning.

The joy in comes in three days from the crucifixion. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.

Scripture Reading: John 18:1 – 19:42

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