“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” (2 Corinthians 5:18ff).
The darkness that covers the land for three hours hides the eternal transaction between Father and Son; hides suffering and penalty that are incomprehensible to us; cloaks in utter darkness that which transpired to bring us into inexpressible light. Speculation on what Jesus experienced is futile; if anything should remind us that we are less than children, that we are hardly infants in understanding, these three hours and all that surround them are that reminder, that arrow into the heart of our pride and vanity. If there is anything that can utterly destroy our self-righteousness and religiosity it is the Lamb on the Cross.
“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scriptures, said, ‘I am thirsty’…He said, ‘It is finished!’ “, John 19:28ff. It is the height of folly and arrogance to think that we can add anything to that which Jesus Christ completed on the Cross. Our assurance and our hope is the conviction that we can add nothing, and that is a core element of the Gospel – we could do nothing so He did it all, and since He did it all we can do nothing. We pollute the Gospel and our own souls when we think we can do anything to enhance or supplement the sacrifice of the Lamb.
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us…” I have more hope of leaping into the mouth of a volcano and returning to tell about it unsinged than I do of penetrating the shroud draped over the land for three hours on Good Friday. Into the Holy of Holies Jesus goes as our sacrifice, bearing our sins, bearing our sin, bearing ourselves – and in that darkness He offers Himself and in offering Himself reconciliation is “finished”. The veil is rent from top to bottom and that barrier which once separated us from God is removed in Jesus Christ and we can now enter into that place where once we could not go – a place that was once hidden but is now made manifest for those who will follow the Lamb – for He leads those who look upon Him into that place into which He has already entered – entered and returned; entered as a sacrificial Lamb, returned as the Resurrection One.
The three hours of darkness are three hours in which we can do nothing; the mouth of mankind is shut – we are struck dumb. We cannot portray what occurred in a movie, in literature, in painting; we have no analogy to use, no simile to invoke, nothing with which to compare. It is beyond us and when we try to make it otherwise we affirm our infancy, if not our foolishness; but when we fall to the ground as mute we give testimony to the incomprehensible love and mercy and grace and justice and judgment of God – all of which surpasses our understanding and which dwarfs our comprehension in Jesus Christ on the Cross.
Jesus went where we cannot go in order to bring us into that place where He went. He went into the Holy of Holies as a slaughtered Lamb in the midst of darkness so what He might return and lead us back into the Holy of Holies as the resurrected Lamb in the radiance of light.
When our tongues are loosed before the Cross we can but say with Thomas, “My lord and my God.”
“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men and women from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth,” (Revelation 5:9 – 10).