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TO CHEW ON: “Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened.” Luke 23:44-45a
Darkness is not a real, tangible thing. Rather it is the absence of something real, tangible and measurable – light. There can be degrees of darkness with complete, utter darkness being the complete and utter absence of any light.
God’s first positive act of creation, which began to bring order to the chaos of earth, was to create light (before He created the sun, moon and stars (Genesis 1:2,3), which brings up the question – what was that light like; did it emanate from something, or somewhere, or Someone?).
This physical phenomenon of light and darkness is used throughout the Bible in a symbolic way, where light is equated with God and darkness the absence of God. At various times (this being one of them) God sent or allowed supernatural darkness. Another such time was the ninth plague of Egypt when the darkness was so thick the people felt it, couldn't see each other, and were confined to their homes for three days (Exodus 10:21-23).
I imagine there was some of that quality of palpability and isolation to the noon to 3:00 p.m. darkness that accompanied Jesus' death on the cross. Did He feel cut off from God as He hung there? In Matthew’s telling of this incident just after he describes the darkness, come the words of Jesus: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” ( (Matthew 27:45,46) ). This was the utter darkness of God having withdrawn Himself completely.
It’s easy to shrug this off as a phenomenon that has nothing to do with us. But it does.
- The power of darkness controls us before we come to God (Colossians 1:13,14).
- Our preference is for darkness (John 3:19).
- When we come to God we pass into the realm of light (Ephesians 5:8-13).
- But even here we can quench light by living in darkness (1 John 1:6).
- Jesus warned against the possibility of being thrown into darkness that lasts forever (Matthew 25:14-30).
How awesome and frightening must have been the darkness on the day of Jesus’ death with its effect on even hardened soldiers. His identification of what made it terrible – God’s absence – is instruction to us. The more God has of us, and we of Him, the more there is no room for darkness.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for enduring the agony of the darkness of God’s absence to buy my salvation. Help me to live always in Your light.
MORE: Today some churches celebrate Holy Saturday, others the Vigil of Easter.
- The liturgy for Easter Vigil is HERE.
- The liturgy for Holy Saturday is HERE. It begins with this collect:
*********"O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.