Tim Keller | March 25, 2007
At the actual moment of Jesus’ death, an inexplicable, mysterious darkness comes down. From noon to 3:00 PM, it was absolutely dark.
This is an inexplicable darkness. A solar eclipse does not create absolute darkness for more than a few minutes. Besides that, a solar eclipse can’t happen during a full moon, and it was Passover, which is a time of a full moon. Beyond that, it was the wet season, so you can’t attribute it to a desert wind storm. This is a supernatural darkness, and therefore it means something.
But what? What does it signify? I think we’ll see that it signifies 1) the darkness we have, 2) the darkness Jesus received, and 3) how Jesus’ darkness can dispel our darkness.
When Jesus dies in Mark’s gospel, there’s an unusual, long darkness, showing the inner darkness in people. Jesus takes on this darkness, showing his power to remove our inner issues. The story wants us to think about our own darkness and gives hope through the change brought by Jesus’ sacrifice.
1. The darkness we have
Spiritual darkness, a feeling of being lost and without purpose, happens when we put anything before God, who gives us truth and life. This darkness can make us feel alone and without meaning, like Ernest Shackleton’s journey and the 10 plagues of Egypt. But, by making God the center of our lives, we can win over this darkness and avoid the confusion and breakdown that comes from living without Him.
2. The darkness Jesus received
In his last moments, Jesus experiences all human evil and the deep darkness of judgment day. This shows the terrible reality of uncreation. Even though he’s the Creator, he is undone, suffering horrors that should have been for sinners. His physical pain is nothing compared to the spiritual torment of taking on our judgment day. He makes the ultimate sacrifice.
3. Jesus’ darkness can dispel our darkness
The tearing of the temple curtain in Mark’s gospel means everyone can reach God, no matter who they are or where they come from. The Roman centurion, who isn’t Jewish and doesn’t know the Bible, recognizes Jesus as the Son of God. This shows that everyone is included in the spiritual family. Jesus’ painful cry on the cross shows his deep suffering and obedience to God’s plan. This understanding can help people move away from worldly distractions and find fulfillment in Jesus. It can replace darkness with light, hardness with softness, and death with life.
February Book Offer
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.
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