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The Darkest Day in History

Good Friday  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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This sermon attempts to weave together the themes of darkness, grief, mourning, and suffering and connect them to the death of Christ for us.

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Introduction

Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ..."My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, “This Man is calling for Elijah!” Immediately one of them ran away and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink. The rest said, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.” -Matthew 27.45-50
The Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff wrote Lament for a Son. He gives expression to his grief not long after his son Eric died at the age of 25 due to a hiking accident. His thoughts are penetrating regarding his feelings about God at the time:
Noon has darkened. As fast as she could say, "He's dead," the light dimmed. And where are you [LORD] in this darkness? I learned to spy you in the light. Here in this darkness I cannot find you. If I had never looked for you, or looked but never found, I would not feel this pain of your absence. Or is it not your absence in which I dwell but your elusive troubling presence? Will my eyes adjust to this darkness? Will I find you in the dark - not in the streaks of light which remain, but in the darkness? Has anyone ever found you there? Did they love what they saw? Did they see love? And are there songs for singing when the light has gone dim? The songs I learned were all of praise and thanksgiving and repentance. Or in the dark, is it best to wait in silence?
Nicholas Wolterstorff. Lament for a Son (Kindle Locations 345-350). Kindle Edition.
Jesus looked for God in the darkness. He cried out, “Why have You forsaken Me?” He is the only Man who could justly ask God that question. Our text states that darkness descended over the all the land when Jesus was crucified. It was a supernatural darkness but also an indicator of God’s presence. include other miraculous indicators: the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom, an earthquake occurred, rocks were split, the graves were opened, and dead believers were resurrected.
The supernatural darkness, along with all the other supernatural events occuring on Good Friday long ago, set apart the death of God’s Son from the death of any other son. Wolterstorff also wrote, “Each death is as unique as each life.” That is all the more true when it comes to the death of Jesus of Nazareth. We emphasize a darkness that covered the land at a time when day should be at its brightest, namely the noon hour. This darkness remained until 3 pm. It is divine darkness. The darkness did not hide God from mankind that day. It is a darkness revealing God to mankind. It reveals two crucial dispositions of God: 1) It revealed suffering; 2) It revealed judgment.
Suffering bleeds into judgment and judgment into suffering. We have no trouble comprehending the God who judges. We expect it. However, it is a lot more difficult to comprehend the God who suffers. So, let’s start there:

The God Who Suffers

Isaiah spoke of Israel's impending judgment by pronouncing woe to those who call evil good, and good evil. They exchange darkness for light and light for darkness (). This in turn invites the darkness of the LORD. He allows their enemies to roar against them. It would be a relentless attack. Isaiah said it was like the pounding waves coming upon the shoreline. "Behold, darkness and sorrow; and the light is darkened by the clouds." The darkness of God attends His wrath and judgment and becomes the cause of suffering for His people. But that suffering affects Him as well.
Isaiah spoke of Israel's impending judgment by pronouncing woe to those who call evil good, and good evil. They exchange darkness for light and light for darkness (). This invites the darkness of the LORD. He allows their enemies to roar against them. It would be a relentless attack like the pounding waves coming upon the shoreline. "Behold, darkness and sorrow; and the light is darkened by the clouds." The darkness of God attends His wrath and judgment.
Jesus cries out in v. 46 of , "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Jesus is forsaken and hanging in the darkness, alone. He is facing all of the indignation of God in it's full, undiluted fury against sin. How can we ever imagine an ability to understand that? Yet Jesus understood the magnitude of the suffering He would face when He was arrested. He had given Himself over to it in the Garden of Gethsamane. He said to those who seized Him, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness" ().
foretells of the darkness of Jesus' suffering when the prophet plainly tells us that it pleased the Father to bruise the Son. The Father put the Son to grief in darkness. He made His soul and offering for sin under the dark clouds of His wrath. The sun brings flourishing growth to the earth. But now there was only night and darkness. Darkness came over all the land and the day is dark for all. contains the prophetic words of the Lord Jesus:
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent.” (, NKJV)
The life of the Suffering Servant draws near to the grave. He will be in darkness, in the depths of the lowest pit. The Father's wrath lies heavy upon Him. Why does He hide His face from Him? His fierce wrath has gone over Him; His terrors have cut Him off from the land of the living. Darkness reveals something light never could. Darkness revealed that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, suffered for you and for me.
The supernatural darkness marked indescribable suffering within the Godhead. This foreboding, brooding darkness is incomprehensible to us. It also reminds us of...

The God Who Judges

Who will save us from the wrath of God when it sweeps over the face of the whole earth? The Day of the Lord is coming. It will be a cruel day with both wrath and fierce anger for those who have not found the Light of the World. "The stars and their constellations will not give their light in that day. The sun will be darkened once again. The moon will not cause its light to shine.” The LORD will punish the world for its evil in that day (). The Lord Jesus Christ said of this coming day:
Who will save us from the wrath of God when it comes upon the face of the earth. The Day of the Lord is coming. It will be a cruel day with both wrath and fierce anger for those who have not found the Light of the World. "The stars and their constellations will not give their light in that day. The sun will be darkened once again. The moon will not cause its light to shine. The LORD will punish the world for its evil in that day (). The Lord Jesus Christ said of this coming day:
But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” ()
The foolish hearts of darkened minds profess to be wise as they exchange the truth of God for the lie. Those of us in Christ pity them because of the fact that they do not know the wretched state they are in. We work while it is yet day because we know the dark day of judgment looms. The night is far spent, but the darkest hour is yet to come before the eternal day dawns.
If we reject God’s Suffering Servant, then our hope is lost. All that is left is an eternally dark torment in Hell.
We are born children of darkness who are condemned already. The only man who every lived not deserving the darkness plunged Himself into that darkness for all mankind. The rest of us deserve to be forsaken and judged by God. We all fall short of the glory of God. We miss the mark of God’s perfection.
Since this is true, we must pay the price for our sin-darkened lives. That price is physical death which gives way to eternal death. We’ve earned our place in Hell because we are sinners by birth. We prove it with our impure motives and sinful actions throughout the span of our darkened, benighted existence.
But God, who is rich in grace and mercy, loved us while we were yet children of darkness. He sent Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, into the sin-darkened world to live as a man. Jesus lived a perfect life filled with hope and light. But He was despised and rejected by mankind. The Father loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son as a final, once-for-all sacrifice for sin. Jesus Christ was crucified. He died on the cross, was buried in a tomb, and arose the third day to forgive us of sin. Jesus was delivered up on the cross with a view toward the clearing of our sin debt. He was raised from the dead with a view toward our justification. The Father seeks to make us right with Him through the death of His Son. He alone is the Way to Heaven and toward an eternal quality of life.
However, only those who receive Him are given the right to be called children of God, the children of light. You must rely only upon Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection for you. He did not die for His sin, but for your sin. As Wolterstorff wrote, “Why insist on never outwarding the inward when that inward is bleeding?” But do you know that your heart should bleed? Or is cold and apathetic?

Conclusion

Perhaps it’s time for us to turn and look upon Jesus. We have pierced Him as certain as the Jews and Romans did. It’s time for us to mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child who dies. It’s time to grieve for Him ().
He was afflicted and humiliated for us. Yet we live afflicted lives in darkness. We are disillusioned and despairing. It seems as if God has hidden His face from us. Evil overtakes us. The promise of joy in the morning is far from our minds. May we remember the wonderful invitation of our Savior:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”” (, NKJV)
John the apostle said...
Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in [Jesus Christ] and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” ()
The death of Christ means the death of darkness and despair. The Sun of Righteousness has arisen with healing in His wings. Light was with the disciples 2,000 years ago - just for a brief time. The disciples needed to walk while they still had the Light, lest the darkness overtook them (). However, if we are in Christ this evening, then we are in the Light and the Light is in us. The LORD is our everlasting Light, and the darkened days of grieving are about to end ().
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