Recalling the Scene
Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last. So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous Man!”(Luke 23:44-47)
Much speculation has been written about those three dark hours, but what really happened at Calvary from noon to three (using our clock)?
While we can never plumb the depths of the horrors of Calvary, I submit that the three hours of darkness on that fateful Passover are anticipated by three occurrences of darkness connected to the very first Passover in the Book of Exodus. In making that parallel, may we appreciate how our Saviour defeated the world, the flesh and the devil at Calvary.
Egypt plagued by darkness (Exodus 10:21-29)
The first occurrence occurs on the ninth and penultimate plague. We’re told that the three days of darkness over all the land of Egypt was such that it could even be felt. Remarkably, this only affected the Egyptians’ dwellings, not the Israelites’.
Egypt is a picture of the world. Egypt was attractive, affluent and academic; but for the Israelite it was a place of bondage and death. Likewise, the world offers attraction, wealth and knowledge, but its system is in direct opposition to God and His ways (1 John 2:15-17).
Like Egypt’s relationship to the Israelites, the world enslaves all who are outside of God’s will. What followed the three days of darkness? The tenth and final plague, whereupon the firstborn in every household would be slain (Exodus 11). Meanwhile, Israel was given a new institution known as the Passover, which would spare them from the tenth plague (Exodus 12).
I wonder if anybody present at the Calvary made the connection and anticipated the death of God’s Firstborn and the true Passover Lamb following the darkness? Just as Christ overcame the world, so the believer can overcome the world when facing the world’s darkness and tribulation (John 16:33).
Pharaoh’s armies thwarted by darkness (Exodus 14:20)
No sooner had the children of Israel escaped Egypt than Pharaoh dispatched his army in hot pursuit. As a result, the Israelites were afraid and greatly discouraged.
Likewise, the NT tells us that believers are in a constant battle with unseen forces of the devil (Ephesians 6:12), and to arm ourselves accordingly. The believer doesn’t belong to Satan, but that isn’t going to stop him from trying to discourage us in every possible way.
At the edge of the Red Sea, the Angel of the Lord positioned Himself between Pharaoh’s army and the Israelite camp, giving darkness to the Egyptians and light to the Israelites. After the Israelites’ passage through the Red Sea was secured, the pursuant Egyptian army was drowned at sea. Instead of fearing the Egyptians, the Israelites now feared the Lord (14:31).
Likewise, by His death the Lord destroyed “him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:15).
The darkness of Sinai (Exodus 20:18-21)
Having escaped Egypt and the armies of Pharaoh, the Egyptians came face-to-face with the most familiar enemy of all – themselves. The Law given at Sinai revealed the flesh with all of its shortcomings (Romans 7:7). I recall one preacher defining the flesh as “the devil’s territory in the believer.”
Once the ten commandments were given, the Israelites are so overcome by the sights and sounds that they beseeched Moses to speak on God’s behalf lest they die. We are told Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was. The darkness signaled God’s presence and it’s a reminder of the darkness of Calvary, to which the Lord Jesus drew near on our behalf.
The Bible tells us that those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). Isn’t it comforting to know that, in Christ, we can overcome the flesh?
Although the full mystery of what happened at Calvary may never be revealed, I know that my sin was imputed to a righteous man. Moreover, because He defeated the world, the flesh and the devil, so can I!
Praise God that Calvary isn’t the end of the story, for He rose again from the dead on the third day. May this Easter be filled with such reminders as we celebrate Him