“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).
When some of those standing near heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he’s calling Elijah.’
Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,’ he said.
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’” (Mark 15:33-39 NIV)
“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”’” (Mark 16:1-7 NIV)
It is often said that the darkest part of the night is just before the dawn. Certainly, it was very dark, literally, as Jesus hung on the cross on that Friday. Mere hours before He breathed His last, ominous clouds rolled across the sky blocking out the sun and creating a surreal scene--the Son of God, the Messiah, shamefully and powerless, hanging on a Roman cross. There was no darker moment in human history.
But just as I’ve experienced this week taking out our friends’ dog in the early hours of the morning, before the dawn, it is dark but there is a sign of a dawn soon to break. Stepping out into the cool air, my ears are besieged with the sounds of birds happily singing in anticipation of a new day. Similarly, at the darkest moment of that day more than 2000 years ago, there was a sign of a new dawn to come. The heavy and thick curtain that shielded the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple suddenly was ripped in half like a worn bed sheet. Though no one understood the meaning of this at the time, three days later its meaning would become clear.
When the grieving women came to the tomb where the body of Jesus had been laid, good and unexpected news awaited them; a new dawn pushed back the darkness. “He is risen! He is not here.” Three days earlier, they could never have imagined what they were hearing and seeing. The darkness then was too overwhelming. But there had been a sign indicating the hope that was soon to be fulfilled.
Our lives will inevitably be visited by deep darkness during our time on earth. It is the way of life in a fallen world. But in the midst of that darkness, there is a Source of hope so powerful that even Death itself cannot defeat Him! As He reminds us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
Today as we celebrate Good Friday, know that it is “good” because though it was the darkest moment in human history, it was a prelude to the greatest moment in history—the Resurrection! So if or when you are facing a dark period in your life, take heart in the hope of the Resurrection. If He can overcome Death, He can bring you through your darkest hours into a bright new dawn!
© Jim Musser 2017