Thursday, March 7, 2013

The dark hours on the cross (Pastor;s notes)

For the 3 March 2013 bulletin

My pastor's notes this week is an email from Susan Shore (a Wycliffe Missionary)

I have been reading through the book "Jesus on Trial" by James Mongomery Boice and Philip Graham Ryken. Once again their comments about the three hours of darkness struck me. This was definitely not an eclipse, as am eclipse only lasts a few minutes. Apparently Tertullian, an early Christian apologist, referred to this darkness when he reminded his heathen readers that the "wonder is related in your own annals and is preserved in your archives to this day." This testifies to the historicity of the darkness. But that is not what struck me. 

From page 105-6: "Those dark hours represent a gap in the narrative, a time about which we know almost nothing. But there was much going on before the darkness descended. Jesus had prayed for the soldiers who were crucifying him. He had spoken words of promise to the believing criminal hanging beside him. He had commended his mother to the care of the beloved disciple. The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders had been taunting him. But with the descent of the darkness, the narrative ceases, as if a veil had been drawn over the unspeakable suffering of God's Son. 

What happened during those hours of darkness? We know the answer. It was in those hours that the Son of God took the burden of our sins upon himself, was punished for them in our place, and experienced such terrible alienation from his Father that he cried out, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34). During those hours, God was carrying out his judgement against human sin, giving it the death sentence it deserved. The darkness thus veiled the anguish of the Son of God while he was bearing the punishment for our sins; it was not right for human eyes to look upon him in his suffering. At the same time, the darkness testified to the blackness of our sin and the tremendous cost to God of our redemption."

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