Mark 15:33-41 33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” 40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
Jesus was crucified at 9 a.m. on the Friday (based upon the Jewish clock from sunrise this was the third hour). Mark 15:25 And it was the third hour when they crucified him.
At noon (the sixth hour), something unusual happened. There was darkness over the whole land for three hours (until 3 p.m.). What could this mean? No eclipse of the sun lasts for three hours? It is obvious that this darkness was in direct relation to Jesus’ crucifixion.
In the events leading up to the crucifixion, absolutely everyone involved came against Jesus revealing the wickedness of all of mankind. The end result of the attacks of the devil and the actions of Judas Iscariot, of the religious leaders, of the crowds, of the Roman governor and soldiers, was that Jesus of Nazareth was pinned to a wooden cross and left hanging until He would breathe His last breath and no longer be among the living. But this would only be temporary. In spite of all this He was in complete control. Jesus became the sin bearer of all of mankind unbeknownst to all who witnessed His crucifixion.
For the first three hours of His crucifixion, it did not appear any different than the agonizing deaths of any other person who had been crucified by the Romans in their punishment of evildoers within the Roman Empire. But there was a fundamental difference. Not only was Jesus innocent but He was also perfect. He was righteous in every way. He obeyed God perfectly at every moment of His 33 years upon this earth. Many innocent people have been abused and convicted criminally and even killed unjustly but there was none before and none since who actually died in a state of complete guiltlessness. All of us are guilty in the sight of God. All of us were born in sin and inherited the sin nature of our first father Adam. The curse that fell upon him for eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil with Eve has fallen upon us. And this wickedness from within will lead us to even be willing to kill the very one who came to save us- Jesus Christ. We would rather kill the King of Glory than to turn away from our evil desires. Yet in spite of this, Jesus still died for our sins. He would bear our sins. His state of guiltlessness was a prerequisite. Without being a spotless lamb, without being a perfect sacrifice, our sins could not be forgiven. He needed to be a descendant from Adam and to fulfill the original covenant with God that Adam had failed in keeping. No one, no matter what injustices they have faced in their life, can claim to have died in a state of guiltlessness. Only Jesus Christ has done so.
The perfect sacrifice was on the altar. But it wasn’t until noon, three hours after He was first hung on the cross to die, that this became no ordinary death. From nine until noon there was much ridicule of Jesus but after there was none. Why? Because of the darkness. Bishop William Rufus Nicholson writes in the Six Miracles Calvary:
“The great Sufferer is silent, as if underneath that darkness some huge horror hung over His own soul. And all else is silent. No taunt or insult is flung at Him now. The crowds are transfixed with amazement. The blood is heard dropping. The suspense is frightful. As all hearts drink in the darkness, they are trembling at a certain mysterious fearfulness of the crucifixion.”
With the coming of the darkness at noon, the sin bearer was suffering the wrath of God as our sins were punished within Him. The darkness could represent our sins being placed upon Him but it could also represent the darkness of what was transpiring as our sins were punished in the Son of God as the wrath of God the Father was being poured out in full measure on the perfect sacrifice. In all likelihood the darkness increased from noon until three as Nicholson argues: “because we hear the cry of the Sufferer at about the close of these hours. It would appear that the silence of His endurance could no longer be maintained, for more and more intense had grown His sufferings.”
Jesus Christ suffered the infinite wrath of God as all sin is an infinite evil the sight of God. Only God in the flesh could endure the full measure of suffering required to pay the penalty for our sins. The suffering that Jesus endured upon the cross is inconceivable. The wrath of man that He endured before the cross and before noon was nothing compared to the wrath of God:
Isaiah 53:4-6 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
At 3 pm Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He was completely alone. By becoming the sin bearer He had been separated from God the Father. He had become sin who knew no sin. By this point the darkness had grown such that no man could even witness His suffering. His face was hidden from all to see. This is the darkness that fell on Calvary’s tree. But then He declared, “It is finished” (John 19:30) and breathed His last and immediately the darkness was lifted. The sun shone in its full brightness. Our sins had been paid for! Jesus had died and would soon rise again on the Lord’s Day! Do you see how amazing the death of Jesus Christ is? Over 2,000 years later it is still the most significant event in relation to your own life and your very soul. If you repent and believe in Him as your Lord and Savior you are forgiven of all of your sins! Praise Him who died for you and for me!
Pastor Murray Hack