The darkness at Calvary

Today in our church we had a fascinating sermon by a visiting preacher on the darkness that occurred when Jesus was crucified. The preacher reminded us of the first Passover in Egypt when the last two plagues were darkness and the death of the firstborn son. As I have been thinking about what was said, some thoughts come to mind, which were stimulated by what I heard.

While a surface connection can be made to the death of Jesus in the sense that it was Passover time when he died and he was the firstborn son of Mary, a deeper meaning can also be made when we remind ourselves that Jesus was also the unique eternal Son of the Father. The preacher reminded us that, at the original Passover, even Pharaoh who ruled the land lost his first-born. But solemn though that judgement was, what is it in comparison to what happened between the Father and the Son at Calvary?

The darkness may have had many meanings. After all, Jesus said that the occasion was the hour and power of darkness. No doubt the powers of the enemy kingdom were at work doing their worst against the Saviour, although as Paul says in Colossians the hostile powers met more than their match in the crucified Saviour. The darkness hides from us the greatness of the victory of Jesus in the heat of the battle when he overpowered his spiritual enemies.

The darkness also hid from onlookers what it was like for Jesus to pay the penalty for sin. It was as if a dark garment was pulled over the scene to prevent idle gazing on the profoundest period in human history. Some descriptions are given of what took place on the cross before the darkness and after it, but all we know about the period of darkness is that Jesus cried out from his forsakenness to God.

The preacher reminded us that the darkness of Calvary depicts for us the darkness of a lost eternity. Although Christians will never experience that darkness, the fact is that a lost eternity is said to be the place of outer darkness by Jesus (Matt. 8:12) and the blackness of darkness by Jude (verse 13). I recall the words of Elisabeth Melville who, when writing to encourage a minister imprisoned in the dark dungeons of Blackness Castle because of loyalty to Christ, reminded him that the darkness of Blackness was not the blackness of darkness.

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