02/15/17 Darkness

READING: Leviticus 17-18, Matthew 27:27-50

“From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land.”

Matthew 27:45

The darkest place I’ve ever been was Mammoth Caves in Kentucky. My family went there on vacation, and we descended as a group into a first “room” that was a huge cavern – seemingly big enough that you could have put our house in it (or, at least it seemed that big to an elementary school kid). Lights were strung along the ceiling, and only a few bare lightbulbs lit up the entire room. Then, our guide flipped a switch. The lights went out. We literally could not see our hands in front of our faces. I knew my parents and siblings were somewhere near me, but only their whispered voices gave me a hint as to where. “Pitch black” aptly described the room – and all of us were glad when our guide turned the lights back on.

Nothing in that cave, though, could have compared to the darkness that fell upon the land when Jesus died. We don’t know how it happened, but we know it did: “From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land” (Matt. 27:45). Apparently, some kind of supernatural event blocked the sun as Jesus bore the weight of the evil of the world. Judgment was falling on sin, and only the darkness of wrath could illustrate this moment. That hour was dark not only for the physical world, but also for the Son of God as He experienced abandonment as the wrath-bearer.  His cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46) resounds with a depth of agony and a level of mystery we cannot understand, but He was forsaken for us. He died in our place as the ultimate sacrifice our reading in the book of Leviticus has so often foreshadowed.

If, then, the story of Jesus ends where our reading ends today, Christ remains dead. We remain men and women most miserable, because the darkness never goes away. The mockers of Jesus seem to have won, and the voices of those who reviled Jesus are some of the last ones heard. But . . . the book of Matthew has more yet to come. The story is not over.

God will turn the light back on.


  • Read the story of the crucifixion again, paying attention to the mockers. Pray for anyone you know today who mocks faith in Jesus.
  • Send someone an email explaining how much the death of Jesus means to you. 

PRAYER: “I praise You, Jesus, for being willing to bear the Father’s wrath on my behalf.”

TOMORROW'S READING: Leviticus 19-20, Matthew 27:51-66

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