“From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.”—Matthew 27:45“At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.” –Mark 15:33
Shortly after those three black mid-day hours, Jesus died.
Some try to minimize the importance of the mid-day darkness. They claim it must have been an eclipse. But this was at Passover, which is carefully dated at the time of a full moon, and eclipses cannot occur during a full moon. In addition, eclipses typically last a few minutes, never three hours. There had to be a supernatural intervention, as happened with the ninth plague of darkness in Egypt (Exodus 10:22) before Moses led the Hebrews out of slavery.
It’s hard to miss the connection between spiritual and physical darkness. In his inimitable 19th century prose, the great preacher Charles Spurgeon commented: “The sun could no longer look upon his Maker surrounded by those who mock him. He covered his face, and traveled on in tenfold night, in very shame that the great Sun of righteousness should himself be in such terrible darkness.”
We’ve come to know that day as “Good Friday,” because the completely good and pure Son of God took on our punishment for sin. But the day was full of blackness: shameful injustice, parades of misguided mockers, the raw and negative side of humanity.
Hmm...as I read of this era’s disorderly crowds and pandemonium over electronics, big-screen televisions , clothing, and toys, I wonder if we’ve made any progress since the day Christ hung on a cross. The crowds shouting “Crucify Him!” were disappointed that this “Messiah” wasn’t a political figure. They sought a leader to overthrow the Roman rule, which had kept them from enjoying life’s nicer things. They wanted comfort and toys, not a Savior from sin.
Perhaps the psalmist can lead us to an answer: “How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 116:15-16). There’s no “gift” in all the Black Friday sales that can ever match the gift we have of salvation in Jesus Christ. We should respond by giving, not to those who already have so much, but as the hands of Jesus to those who have so little—in our land and abroad.