GOOD FRIDAY morning ...
When I was a boy it seemed like every Good Friday was overcast, cloudy, a bit darker than other days. I always thought that was appropriate considering what took place on the very first Good Friday.
As you read about the events of that day you find that there was a darkness at the noon hour.
This was not simply a few clouds that covered the sky ... a cloudy, overcast afternoon. We are told that the sun was darkened.
Nor could this have been an eclipse since no eclipse lasts for three hours and this darkness, we are told, persisted until the ninth hour ... or until three in the afternoon.
And this was not just some local phenomenon that took place around Jerusalem or even throughout Palestine ... for we are assured that there was a darkness over all the earth ... and even pagan writers record that at this time in distant countries the sun suddenly lost its brilliance.
Perhaps you have never thought of it as such, but this was a Good Friday miracle! For the sun ... which is 392,000 times larger than the earth ... with a temperature of at least 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit ... which issues flames thirty times greater than the diameter of the planet earth ... this giant luminary is to God what a flashlight is to man!
And in a single moment at Good Friday’s high noon God suddenly cuts off its illumination! How strange is that?!?
And what might have been the purpose of this darkness?
It has always been assumed that the earth was shrouded in blackness so that the intense suffering Jesus encountered could be somewhat shielded from the gaze of curious, prying eyes.
None of us can fully realize the depths of a crucifixion. Usually the victim was handed a cup of wine mixed with a powerful narcotic to numb the pain. Often the cruelty was too much ... even for the executioners, cold and calloused as they were ... and frequently the soldiers gave the victim a blow under the armpits to hasten death.
The burden of the suspended body made the slightest movement a wrenching violence. The lacerated muscles ached unspeakably. The cut, crushed veins throbbed in mounting agony. The four nail wounds, in hands and feet, festered with fierce pangs of fire. Gradually gangrene started to set in, the blood became poisonous, the torment of tetanus began, high fever raced through the body, and burning thirst produced utter dryness. Hysteria set in. Most agree that crucifixion was the most brutal, barbaric form of capital punishment ever devised.
No wonder Jesus, racked with fever and deathly dryness, cried out I THIRST. And no wonder the Almighty mercifully kept the sunlight from revealing the full extent of His fatal suffering.
But there is a far deeper agony that was shielded by the darkness of Calvary that first Good Friday. Immeasurably worse than the physical pains of the crucifixion were the torment of soul and body which your sins and mine heaped upon Jesus that day. For there at Calvary, Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, bore in His body and soul and mind, the total punishment ... the entire, eternal damnation of every man, every woman and every child who had ever lived and died in the past ... who was alive at that time ... and who would yet live as long as the world existed.
Jesus bore on that cross ... the suffering of every sin ... the total penalty of every transgression ... the curse of every human ... the physical and spiritual anguish of every soul. Jesus endured all of this when He became The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
On this Good Friday 2020, it is my prayer that you will spend more than a just few reflective moments thinking about and meditating on what actually took place when Christ died on that cross for your sins. Because of His sacrificial death, you and I can live and breathe in eternal freedom, peace and joy! What a blessing! What a gift!
May God bless your Good Friday meditation and your Easter morning celebration of the resurrection!!!