THE DARKNESS OF GOLGOTHA

Matthew 27:45

 

I. Intro.

A. as we read this verse, there is the danger that we might treat it as if it were the record of something insignificant

1. however, it is the central verse in the story of the cross

2. the cross itself is not mentioned in the verse; no word is spoken of it or of Christ

3. the cross and Christ are alike hidden, and yet it was a three hour period, the very central hours of the Saviour's ordeal

4. in those hours, transactions were accomplished that escape the discernment and explanation of finite minds

B. this darkness is not to be passed over lightly; the fact of that darkness is recorded in three Gospel accounts

1. it was three hours of darkness and of silence

2. all the vulgar screaming was over, the significant opposition was exhausted, the turmoil ended

3. man had done his last and his worst

C. after the three hours of darkness and silence, human actions were that of pity

1. as if the silence and the darkness had changed the entire attitude of man toward the Savior

2. the vinegar they offered Him to drink, was offered to Him in pity - Matthew 27:47-48

3. what they said about Elijah was expressive of their desire to sympathize

4. the centurion's testimony, was that of a man whose heart was strangely moved toward the noble and dignified Saviour - Matthew 27:54, Mark 15:39, Luke 23:47

5. when the multitudes dispersed from the scene, they smote their breasts, overwhelmed with a sense of admiration, and strangely moved by some new pity - Luke 23:48

D. no interpretation of that darkness is to be trusted, except that given by the One who experienced it

1. has He given us any light that will enable us to apprehend the meaning of the darkness

2. did He say anything that would help us to explain those silent hours

3. the answer is to be found in the Gospel narratives

II. The Meaning Of The Darkness

A. what was this darkness; how was it caused; what did it really mean

1. the importance of these questions is proven by the fact that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all recorded that it took place - Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44

2. since each of them mentioned it; it is something to be noted, something to be remembered, something that made an impression on each of them

3. for this reason, we cannot pass over it as though it were merely incidental

B. Luke records a fact not mentioned by the others, that Jesus said to the men who came to arrest Him, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness" - Luke 22:53

1. during the course of His ministry, Jesus referred to an hour which was not yet, to an hour which was postponed

2. men attempted to arrest Him, but they could not because His hour was not yet come

3. men desired to kill Him, and wrought with all their strength and wit to do so; but they were unable, because His hour had not yet come

4. Jesus was constantly looking forward to some culminating hour

a) no man could hurry it, and no man could postpone it

b) He continually postpone it, until the time set by God

C. Jesus told His disciples that there was a night coming when no man could work - John 9:4

1. while it was still day, there was a work that Jesus had to accomplish with His disciples

2. there was a time of darkness coming, "when no man can work," when they must stand aside from cooperation and fellowship with Him

3. that was the hour to which He looked, the night of darkness that would come at last, in which no man could work, but God alone must work

D. when the soldiers were about to lay hands on Him and lead Him away to His death, He said, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness"

1. the hour that was postponed had arrived, and this was its character

2. from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land

3. nothing is said concerning the Son of God during those hours, no record of a word passing His lips; it was a period of infinite silence, a period of overwhelming darkness

E. what was it that Jesus said concerning the darkness

1. it was the hour of evil, it was the hour of darkness's dominion and power

a) in those three hours, Christ was in the midst darkness's dominion and power

b) Satan is the ruler of darkness - Acts 26:18

2. lets read what Jesus said concerning the darkness in John 1:4-5

a) the word comprehended does not means "understood" in this verse

b) "comprehend" means to apprehend, find, obtain, perceive; to take eagerly, seize, possess

c) the word is translated elsewhere as taketh, come upon, percieved, found, attained, obtain, apprehend, overtake

3. it was not that the darkness did not understand the light, but that it could not extinguish the light

a) the light was always shining, and no matter how deep and dense the darkness, it never succeeded in entirely extinguishing the light

b) the darkness could not put out the light

4. in that declaration we learn the purpose of evil, and the purpose of Satan

a) Satan's supreme desire is extinguish the Light

b) Satan's desire was to seize it, possess it and never let it shine again

c) in those hours of darkness, all the force of evil was brought to bear on the soul of Christ, and all the unutterable intentions of evil came upon Him in the darkness

d) that is something that is beyond our comprehension

F. during those hours of darkness there was a tangible symbol of the empire of sin

1. whether Satan did in some way actually produce the darkness, we do not know

2. in that experience, there is a symbol of the spiritual intention of hell

G. darkness is the twin sister of death - Matthew 4:16

1. death and darkness express the ultimate in evil, and in that hour, when Jesus was passing into death, there was darkness

2. the darkness which impressed the multitudes, and changed their attitude toward Him, was an outward sign of a more unfathomable spiritual darkness into which He had passed

III. The Passing Of The Darkness

A. there were four cries that come from Jesus' lips, after the passing of the darkness

1. a backward thought, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsake Me" - Matthew 27:46

2. an expression of His human experience and limitations, "I thirst" - John 19:28

3. an expression of His spiritual accomplishment, "It is finished" - John 19:30

4. then a look at the glorious future, "Father into Thy hands I commend My Spirit" - Luke 23:46

B. then He died, not of a broken heart, not of human brutality, not of murder by human hands

1. He died of His own volition; He yielded up His Spirit

2. the death that saves was not that of physical termination, but had to do with what took place in the three hours of darkness, which when they were over, He says, "It is finished"

C. in the remainder of the story beyond the hours of darkness, we have no record of any word uttered by the foes of Jesus; they did not seem to be present during that time

1. after the darkness, and after His death, no rude hand ever touched the body of the dead Christ

2. loving hands took Him from the cross and buried Him, and gave Him a temporary resting place in a garden tomb

3. in death He was wonderfully preserved from all dishonor

4. the foes of Jesus seem to have withdrawn; Satan seems to have been absent

D. as the darkness passed, we again see the attitude of the people; they were touched with pity; illumination came to them concerning the One who died, and a great fear possessed them

IV. The Transaction Within The Darkness

A. we cannot fully know all that took place in the darkness; whatever may be said is incomplete

1. God cannot conclusively be expressed in finite terms

2. the cross cannot be fully explained; it is a perpetual marvel

3. when the amazement of the cross dies out, it is not that the cross has been fully analyzed, but that the gazer has become blind

B. we may gain some light from prophecy, the words of Christ as He emerged from the darkness, and from the darkness itself

1. in that hour of darkness, He passed into the place where the ultimate wrestling match with evil took place - Genesis 3:15

2. His final words, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit," declares that whatever the transaction was, it was accomplished; that whatever the dying indicated, it was done

C. the last taunt of His enemies were some of the most illuminating word about the cross - Matthew 27:42

1. though they laughed at Him, their words are a truth both glorious and dreadful

2. He might have saved Himself, if He had asked for twelve legions of angels, as He said

3. He could have swept the rabble from about the cross and descended with one glimpse of His shining glory

D. why could He not save Himself

1. because He is God, and because God is love, and love is never satisfied with the destruction of a sinner, but with the saving of a sinner

a) love finds no joy in the vindication of holiness and righteousness, by the annihilation of those things that oppose it

b) love finds joy, only when those who have fallen from righteousness and holiness are restored thereto, and are remade into the image of God

2. some may ask, "could love not find another way"

a) we may not know all that happened in the darkness, but this we know, when we come to the cross and receive what has been disclosed, our heart, spirit, and life are healed

b) we becomes consciousness of the forgiveness of sins

c) there is no other way and there is no other gospel of forgiveness

3. in the darkness He did not saved Himself, but He saved you and me

a) He refused His own deliverance, so that He might set us free from our sin

b) from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land, and from the darkness have come the treasures of pardon, and peace