Monday, August 21 is a highly anticipated day: a once-in-a-lifetime chance to view a total solar eclipse. Hundreds of thousands of people are making plans to travel to a prime spot in the “totality band” and experience total darkness in the middle of a summer day.
As everyone rushes to get their protective viewing glasses, consider another lens through which to view the event. Harken back to another afternoon when the world went dark as our Savior died on the cross. The darkness that came upon the land that day was not because of a solar eclipse but because of divine judgment.
Just as light returns after the eclipse, so the light returned in so many astounding ways on resurrection morning.”
In the Bible, daytime darkness signifies the judgment of God. For example, in Exodus 10, the darkness that covers Egypt for three days is one of the final plagues of judgment against Pharaoh as God prepares rescue for his people. It’s worth noting that three gospel authors point out that darkness came over the land from noon to 3:00 p.m. as Jesus was crucified (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15.33; Luke 23:44-45). Darkness descends as God’s judgment is poured out on his Son for the sins of the people. The wrath of God that should have fallen on God’s people fell on the beloved Son of God that day.
Recently during Communion, we sang the hymn Near the Cross, and I was struck by these words: “Near the cross! O Lamb of God, bring its scenes before me. Help me walk from day to day with its shadow o’er me.” All of us need the scenes and shadows of the cross in front of us so that it remains vivid in our minds and of highest value in our hearts.
So on Monday, August 21, one of the scenes of the cross will come before our protective glass-covered eyes: darkness interrupting the day. As we enjoy the wonder of God’s creative work on that day, may we also engage more deeply with God’s redemptive work in Jesus as we remember his finished work that has fully satisfied the wrath of God for his people. And just as light returns after the eclipse, so the light returned in so many astounding ways on resurrection morning.
“His anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).”
Be reminded of the finished work of Jesus on the cross through our new sermon series, The Gospel of Mark: The Person and Purpose of Jesus, beginning August 20.