The Darkest Hour

When Was the Darkest Hour Ever?

Mark 15

March 29, 2015 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction (Luke 22:52,53)


A.    I have seen a lot of commentary lately about “the darkest hour…”


1.      I'm sure you have all heard of the Germanwings aircraft that seems to have been crashed on purpose by a suicidal pilot this past week. The chief of Lufthansa, which runs the low-cost Germanwings airline, Carsten Spohr said the crash was "inexplicable". He went on to say the organisation was in shock after "the darkest hours" in the company's 60-year history.

2.      Many of you might know of the young woman named Amanda Knox, accused of murdering her friend, Meredith Kercher 8 years ago. She said Friday that waiting for the Italian Supreme Court to rule on her conviction was the darkest time of her life!

3.      But that term “darkest hour” is used quite a lot by people

4.      Probably one of the most famous times it was used was by Winston Churchill when he used the phrase to describe the period of World War II between the fall of France in 1940 and the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, when the British empire stood alone against Nazi Germany and the Axis Powers in Europe.


B.     So, In simple words, the Darkest Hour means The worst part of your life. The hardest time in your life. The time that was the most difficult.

C.     We all have dark times. They are part of life.

D.    But how many of us have truly experienced, the darkest hour?

E.     There is ONE Man in history, who truly did experience, THE darkest hour of all time.

F.      The Lord Jesus! (Luke 22:52,53)

G.    And He experienced it, to save you from an eternity of it!


II.    Background


A.    The Passover Celebration


1.      The Jews celebrate Passover every Spring to remind them of their liberation by God from slavery in Egypt, and of their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses.

2.      Passover is written about mainly in the Book of Exodus.

3.      In order to free the entire nation of Israel, God inflicted ten plagues (disasters) upon the Egyptians one after another until Pharaoh would release his Israelite slaves; the tenth and worst of the plagues was the death of the Egyptian first-born.

4.      So that no one died in the Jewish homes, God instructed every believer to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a slaughtered lamb and, when God saw this, He passed over the first-born in these homes, and let them live - hence the name of the holiday… PASS-OVER

5.      Every orthodox Jewish family now gathers at a table with


a.       Roasted Lamb – a substitute for the first born son in the house

b.      Bitter herbs - horseradish and romaine lettuce - symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery the Hebrews endured in Egypt.

c.       Dish of vinegar sauce – to remind them of the harshness of slavery

d.      Unleavened bread

e.       Unleavened wine

f.       Leaven is yeast, and at the Passover, and for the following week, no yeast was to be used in any cooking or baking because yeast was a symbol of sin – it only takes a little to affect someone’s entire life!

g.      So the wine was non alcoholic, and the bread was quite flat and simple!


B.     This Passover Was Different. This would be Jesus’ Last Supper


1.      So He grabbed only the remaining two items and taught His Disciples that they pointed to HIS death for all mankind!

2.      As I will show you in a few moments, when WE remember Jesus’ death


C.     Jesus was Following a Plan (1Peter 1:18-20)


1.      Set in motion before the universe was ever created!

2.      Not so that He could sit on His throne

3.      Or to get great honour and glory

4.      But Jesus experienced the most awful darkness ever experienced, to REDEEM / save wretches like you and like me from the righteous wrath of almighty God!


III. Message


A.    The Darkest Hour Was Predicted (John 12:20-24; 27-33; 16:32)


1.      John 12:23  And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

2.      John 12:24  Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

3.      John 12:27  Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

4.      John 12:32  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

5.      John 12:33  This he said, signifying what death he should die.

6.      John  16:32  Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.


B.     Darkness Began at the Last Supper (Luke 22:13-23)


1.      John  13:1  Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

2.      Luke 22:13  And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.

3.      Luke 22:14  And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.

4.      Luke 22:15  And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:

5.      Luke 22:16  For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

6.      Luke 22:17  And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:

7.      Luke 22:18  For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.

8.      Luke 22:19  And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

9.      Luke 22:20  Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

10.  Luke 22:21  But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.

11.  Luke 22:22  And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!

12.  Luke 22:23  And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.

13.  Let’s remember this supper, like Jesus asked us to in verse 19


a.       First asking ourselves if we are worthy


1)      Are you saved? Born again? A true blue follower of Jesus Christ? Like Peter, and James and John? They were not perfect, but they were followers!

2)      Or are you like Judas? Just sitting there, in church, thinking of your own agenda, and life – never repenting, never deciding that you need to be saved yourself!

3)      Judas sat at the table and drank of that cup, and ate of that bread, but he was only damning himself more!

4)      If you are not saved, or not sure that you are born again child of God, then let the cup and the bread pass. No one will care!


b.      Then taking the cup,


1)      A cup filled with UNLEAVENED wine

2)      Nothing special about it – just fruit juice – GRAPE juice

3)      Jesus bowed His head and publically thanked God for what was about to happen to Him in a few hours. He thanked God that a substitution was about to be made, the innocent for the guilty – His own blood for theirs!

4)      And then gave it to all of them

5)      Asking them and us to remember that Jesus allowed wicked men religious men, sinful men to whip Him until His own blood poured out from the wounds

6)      And they all drank of that cup


c.       And then taking the bread, and using it as an illustration of His own body, being broken up for us


1)      Remember, this is Passover Bread. Unleavened Bread – almost tasteless bread

2)      Yet, He blesses it – makes it special

3)      Then, He breaks it in front of them

4)      And then gave it to every one of them in that room

5)      Jesus does not magically transform that torn piece of bread into His own body – it was just a picture of His plain, simple, yet sinless body

6)      Jesus asks them to experience the tastes, texture, plainness of the bread as he tells them that that bread is just like His body, which would be broken for them in less than 18 hours.


d.      What had been at first a wondrously joyous celebration of the Passover…

e.       Was now sombre and serious and sad moment in that upper room!


C.     It Only Got Darker When Jesus Went to the Garden in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-45)


1.      Mat 26:37  And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.

2.      Mat 26:38  Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

3.      Mat 26:39  And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

4.      Mat 26:40  And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?

5.      Mat  26:45  Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.


D.    And from There it Went Downhill


1.      Jesus is Captured (Mark 14:42-46)

2.      He is Abandoned By His Followers (Mark 14:48-50)

3.      His Mock Trials before Caiaphas, Annas, and then back to Caiaphas, then to Pilate and Herod, and then back to Pilate again!

4.      You and I have had bad days, and dark hours

5.      But this is darkness like none of us have never imagined!


E.     Then Came the Crucifixion (Mark 15:9-33)


1.      Publically Rejected (Mark 15:9-14)


a.       Crucifixion was called for not only by the Religious Leaders

b.      But by the very people Jesus had helped, and cured, and saved!

c.       But that wasn’t dark yet!


2.      Publically Scourged (15:15) Whipped like none of us have ever seen or imagined!

3.      Then Absolutely Humiliated (15:16-20)


a.       He had already been Stripped

b.      Now a crown of thorns was slammed into His skull

c.       And a Centurion’s robe placed upon His bleeding back

d.      And then paraded in front of everyone to laugh and mock at as they hit Him on the head with a pole, and then ripping the blood soaked rob off His back

e.       But that wasn’t dark yet!


4.      And THEN Jesus was Crucified (Mark 15:24-25)


a.       You thought it couldn’t have gotten any darker, but it did!

b.      It is now the THIRD HOUR SINCE DAWN – that’s how they told time. It is not 3am, but 9am (3 hours after dawn).

c.       Jesus has been up all night

d.      He has been mocked and spit upon and beaten already a total of seven different times

e.       And now… He is crucified – forcibly nailed to a 12 foot high cross

f.       Alone, in agony, struggling just to breathe

g.      It was during these first 3 hours on the cross that Jesus did and said some amazing things


1)      "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." Luke 23:34

2)      A dying thief, hanging next to Jesus said unto Jesus, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” And Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:42,43 

3)      He next told John to take care of His mother Mary (John 19:26,27)


h.      What an amazing thing to do – to pray for your enemies as you laying dying at their own hand; give hope and eternal life to a convicted criminal dying next to you; and then to make sure someone is taking care of your mother!!!

i.        He did all that alone!


F.      THEN Came Christ’s Darkest Hour – Was Actually THREE Long Hours (Mark 15:33)


1.      These three hours were Jesus’ Darkest Hours!


a.       It is high noon. The sun is at its brightest in the sky.

b.      Jesus has hung on the cross for three hours so far…

c.       And something happens– right in the middle of the entire event -  at the SIXTH HOUR of the day since dawn – a darkness comes over all the earth


2.      It was not an eclipse


a.       The darkness continued for three hours


1)      The longest eclipse can last for only a few minutes

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


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


1)      In the text, the darkness 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)    So, the darkness is connected with the worst suffering of Jesus


3.      During these three hours of darkness, there was only silence – the whole world seemed to come to a stand-still (Mk 15:23)! Without light, no one moved! Held as captives around that dark cross!


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

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

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


4.      What Was Happening?


a.       Jesus was now suffering under the wrath of God Almighty (Lam 1:12,13) Experiencing HELL in Himself, for those three, long hours!

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


1)      During the most excruciating sufferings, the darkness shut Him off from all witnesses

2)      Christ bearing our sins in His own body was so awful that nobody could have stood to see it

3)      So God turned off the light, for those long three hours!


4)      Before this darkness, whatever suffering Jesus endured, was exposed – the lashings, the bruises, the thorns, the nails, splinter-wounds – those were all wounds inflicted by MEN – and RELIGIOUS men at that!


a)      But now, Jesus was “Smitten of God” (Isa 53:4)

b)      It was God who laid the iniquities of us all, on this perfect Man on the cross (Isa 53:6)


5)      The suffering of Christ were NOT watchable


a)      Even though Jesus is God, He had become every bit a Man like you and me back in Bethlehem

b)      And as a Man, He felt not only the pain of every whip, and every thorn, and every splinter raked across His body

c)      But He felt the abandonment of God as He was left to die, alone on that cross!

d)     Jesus’ darkest hour was when He looked up into the darkness and cried, “My God, my God, why hast though forsaken me” (Mark 15:34)

e)      There was Jesus Christ, forsaken by God, like a man or woman in hell


c.       He who never knew any sin, became sin itself (2Cor 5:21)

d.      God was punishing Jesus for all sins, of all people, for all time, as if HE had done all OUR sins!


1)      God had no way around it – His character requires sin to be punished

2)      So, when Jesus was dying, He was taking the place of all sinners – because otherwise, THAT kind of judgment in hell is what every sinner will experience


IV. Conclusion


A.    But That was NOT the end! He wasn’t finished yet! Listen to Jesus’ FINAL words on the cross…


1.      Even after almost 16 hours of agony, abandonment, torture, and hell itself in His soul, Jesus remained alive on that cross

2.      Just long enough to accomplish every last little thing He had to do

3.      Suffer as a man in hell – crying out “I thirst” John 19:28

4.      And then loudly proclaiming VICTORY! “It is finished!” John 19:30

5.      And then “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit:” and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

6.      And THEN He died. Luke 23:46 


B.     Why point all this out?


1.      He was taking YOUR place! Jesus’ life ended THAT WAY, so that YOUR life doesn’t have to end that way…


a.       Righteously Judged by God

b.      And punished by God in a devil’s hell, for ever and ever and ever


2.      Because, it was in that darkness, that God’s righteousness was SATISFIED (Isaiah 53:10)

3.      God now could forgive every sinful human being if they would only believe Jesus died for them!


a.       He waits, to forgive someone like YOU!

b.      The crucifixion of Jesus Christ, was for the likes of you, and the likes of me!

c.       Sinners. Lawbreakers. Ungodly at times. Unrighteous almost all the time


4.      But God commendeth His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!


C.     BUT… even THAT was not the end! Jesus did not stay dead!