The Darkness of Calvary

Luke 23:44-45



I.         Introduction (Luke 23:44,45) - I want to focus on the darkness of the crucifixion today, because it makes our understanding of the resurrection all that more clear


A.      A description of the scene


1.        Jesus had already hung on the cross for three hours


a.       Late Tuesday evening, He had been taken captive by a mob, and brought through 7 trials lasting up until 8 am Wednesday morning

b.       By 9 am, Jesus is being led through the town to taunting and raging people, who spat upon Him as he carried His cross through the city

c.       For the next 6 hours, He would hang on that cross, and then die


2.        But something happens– right in the middle of then entire event -  at noon, a darkness comes over all the earth – recorded in history


B.       It was not an eclipse


1.        The darkness continued for three hours


a.       The longest eclipse can last for only a few minutes

b.       This occurred during the Passover, which is always observed at the time of the full moon, which makes a eclipse of the sun impossible


2.        Notice how it was not just darkness, but “the sun itself was darkened”


a.       There was a failure of its light

b.       The darkness was not caused by absence of the sun, such as at night

c.       It was a darkness at noontime, a darkness in the place of the sun


C.       The darkness did not come on by a slow and gradual process


1.        In the text, it was a darkness that began at the sixth hour of the day (noon)

2.        It seems to have departed just a suddenly at the ninth hour (three in the afternoon)

3.        Notice than, that the darkness is connected with the suffering of Jesus


D.      Prior to the darkness, the hill of Golgotha where Jesus was crucified was a busy place (Mk 15:22-32)


1.        The hill was just outside of Jerusalem, and massive crowds passed by going into and out of the city – like a busy shopping mall on the day be fore Christmas!

2.        Jesus Himself was busy on that Cross


a.       Struggling just to breath, and yet…

b.       Interceding for those who crucified Him (Father forgive them for they know not …)

c.       Answering the cry for mercy from a dying thief

d.       Making sure His mother was cared for by the apostle John


3.        Soldiers were busy watching and mocking Him, and dividing His garment as the winnings of a lottery

4.        The chief priest were busy criticizing Pilate’s inscription on the cross (which stated, the King of the Jews)

5.        Scoffers were busy wagging their heads, railing and reviling Him as they circled Him like dogs! “Why don’t you come down IF you are Christ?”

6.        So, the currents of sin continued flowing unchecked around the cross


E.       But, during the three hours of darkness, there was only silence – the whole world seemed to come to a stand-still (Mk 15:23)!


1.        There, Christ was silent, as a great horror hung over His soul

2.        No taunts or insults were flung at Christ by anybody, anymore

3.        As the people experienced the darkness, there was a fearful trembling at the mystery of this awful crucifixion – Matthew 27:45,54


II.       An Explanation Of The Darkness


A.      It was a miracle, plain and simple


1.        A visible suspension of the law of nature - the sun stopped shining! I don’t believe there were any stars either – and the Moon was dark as well

2.        The darkness was a visible display of the power of God, because only He can change the laws of nature!

3.        There is nothing out there in space that can cause the Sun itself to go dark

4.        All the laws of creation were in operation, when this scene of darkness appeared

5.        So, simply, the Author of creation touched the Sun, and brought darkness


B.       It was necessary – not an accident


1.        The darkness revealed God’s design and purpose of the cross - judgment

2.        The darkness proved to the whole world that God’s Son was dying

3.        Let’s look at this in more detail


III.     What The Darkness at the Crucifixion Teaches


A.      It was God’s sign of Jesus’ character and mission


1.        When Jesus told the unbelieving religious crowd that He came to save them from their sins, they were gravely offended

2.        When Jesus said, “I am the Son of God,” they took up stones to stone Him

3.        The people had asked for a sign from heaven that Jesus was the Son of God, so now a sign from heaven is clearly given


a.       Not in the death itself – the cross was man’s way

b.       But in the judgment that took place at His death, in total darkness


4.        Even the Roman soldiers understood the meaning of the darkness and exclaimed, “truly this was the Son of God”

5.        Good News for Modern Man says, “Certainly he was a good man!”


B.       It magnified the death of Jesus Christ – made it more than just a death


1.        This was not just a good man who was dying on that cross!

2.        Somebody special was dying – somebody who shouldn’t have to die – somebody who could have just lived forever!

3.        And yet, here He was dying – but not for Himself

4.        You see - OUR pardon, OUR peace, and eternal life are secured only through Jesus shedding His blood as he died on that cross (1Pet 3:18)!


C.       It covered the inconceivable sufferings of Christ at His death (Cf Eph 6:12)


1.        God was testifying to the fact that redemption was in the death of Christ


a.       The testimony took the form of darkness, because of the suffering of the death which was inflicted

b.       “Smitten of God” is what the darkness testified of (Isa 53:4)

c.       It was God who laid the iniquities of us all, on Jesus (Isa 53:6)

d.       It was not just the suffering of the cross, but also the grief of the Father being shown


2.        The suffering of Christ became unbearable


a.       Near the close of the darkness, Jesus looked up into the darkness and cried, “My God, my God, why hast though forsaken me”

b.       God was there in the darkness, but for a time He forsook His Son

c.       Christ was forsaken, because that was His punishment as the Sin-bearer (2Cor 5:21)

d.       Christ bearing our sins in His own body was not make-believe; it was reality, and it was so awful that nobody could have stood to see it


3.        The darkness hid the silent sufferings of Christ from human eyes


a.       During the most excruciating sufferings, the darkness shut Him off from all witnesses

b.       Before the darkness, whatever suffering He endured was exposed to view – the lashings, the bruises, the thorns, the nails, splinter-wounds


IV.    What The Darkness Proves


A.      It proves God’s wrath against sin and sinner – like the darkness in Egypt


1.        This was no put-on, no mock-up, no performance by angels

2.        It was for three hours, all of hell for all our sins, of all time, against Jesus

3.        God had no way around it – His character requires sin to be punished

4.        So, when Jesus was dying, He was taking the place of the sinner – because otherwise, THAT is what every sinner will experience!


B.       The darkness proves therefore the doom of the unbeliever


1.        It shows the future misery for the neglecting soul

2.        The darkness of Calvary is both a pledge and earnest of the darkness which Christ spoke of

3.        All rejecters of Christ will perish in outer darkness called hell!


C.       It also proves the righteousness of Jesus


1.        Here was the full wrath of God vented against His own sinless Son

2.        Only a person who has no sins of their own, could be made responsible for the sins of others – as a Lamb – remember, this was PASSOVER


D.      It proves that the price of Redemption has been paid


1.        Since He passed through the darkness, He was able to say, “It is finished”

2.        The work of redemption was done, nothing more needed to be done - everything was completed

3.        So, GONE are the need for priests and Temples, sacrifices and rituals, prayer books and altars. All that is needed today is a PREACHER, and for people to simply believe in the LIVING Son of God who died for them!


V.      What Pierces the Darkness? What made the light return?! Three things:


A.      A Cry – “IT IS FINISHED!”


1.        It was spoken from the man on the middle cross, while as yet it was still pitch black – it was no whimper, but a shout of victory!

2.        From that point, the darkness began to fade – AMEN!


B.       An Empty Tomb - The Resurrection Itself (Mk 16:1,2)


1.        The dawning of that First Day, Sunday, was never to be forgotten

2.        From then on, Christians meet and worship the LIVING Saviour, NOT on Saturday, but SUNDAY!


C.       A Christian preaching the Good News


1.        Oh how wonderful is our good news - that it is over – that Jesus reigns

2.        This world is a very dark place

3.        The more this BOOK is preached, the more light we bring into the world


VI.    Conclusion (1Jn 2:8; Isa 60:1,2)


A.      The darkness of Calvary is past – three hours was all it took for Jesus to handle all sin, for all time - and the light of the Gospel now shines (1John 2:8)

B.       Christ is that light - He died, and was buried, and rose again, and is ascended back into heaven, and now sits at the right hand of the Father

C.       One day every knee shall bow to Him, and confess that He is Lord

D.      Will you repent of your sin, and take Christ as your Saviour by faith?

E.       How about you Christian? Will you be so quick to think it doesn’t matter that you sin?