Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.

Matthew 27: 48

 

Noon to three in the afternoon. These are the peak hours of the day, especially in the courts of the temple in Jerusalem on the eve of the Passover Sabbath when the sacrificial sheep were slaughtered. Now something profound was happening. Here was the final lamb, the ultimate sacrifice that would end the need for there to be any more, and He was hanging in the agony of crucifixion on a Roman cross. God’s desire for reconciliation with His creation was gaining its full expression in the pain that the human form of Jesus was enduring in His flesh and in the agony that His spirit attained as the separation from the Father was fully realized in those moments when the penalty for the sinful rebelliousness of humanity were placed onto the innocent back of the Messiah. Nothing that we can endure in our most desperate experience of life comes close to the sorrowful anguish that must have filled Jesus or the deep grief that overtook the Father in this hour.

 

The sky became supernaturally darkened as the shroud of loss obscured the source of all light, and then everything turned in a new direction. The deathbed vigil ends as Jesus surrenders the life-fight of man and enters into the rest of the fallen. Yet, this death is victory, and this loss is humanity’s gain. The fatal divide between God and people is no longer present, and even the classes and categories of people that our sinful desires had produced were abolished and dissolved in a moment. Here on this hill in an insignificant land at the far end of the earth’s greatest empire occurred the holy reconciliation that no human could have produced and that nothing else in history has come close to matching in its significance or impact upon what life in this world means. The people of this earth are granted the gift of grace that opens the door to forgiveness for all that we have thought and done in opposition to God and to His righteousness. In this crucified Jesus, this risen Christ, we are all taken out of the living death of our births and placed by Christ into life in the total and full expression of its loving embrace.

 

For it is true that the human tools that broke the body of Jesus did nothing more than free creation from the slavery that had encased it in its icy grip of death. The body that surrendered to that sacrificial death was soon raised by God into life, and the life that Christ enjoys has become the same life that fills the souls of all who turn to Him in repentance and in submission to our Lord. In so doing we enter through the cross of Christ into the tomb of surrender and submission of our selves to God’s righteousness, and in our own experience of His resurrection we are given a new and transformed form of existence that now begins to accurately reflect the God-image design of God’s original intent for humanity. In Christ we are taken out of the darkness of the fallen world so that our hearts, minds, and spirits no longer dwell in that fearful shadow land. Now we join with our risen Lord in His victory over all that oppresses and destroys in this world, and our lives can sing out the praises of our God who saves all who come to Him.

 

 

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