10 Minute Read

TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

Judges 8:18–9:21
Luke 23:44–24:12
Psalm 99:1-9
Proverbs 14:9-10

TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

Luke 23:44-46 (CSB): “It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three, because the sun’s light failed. The curtain of the sanctuary was split down the middle. And Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.’ Saying this, he breathed his last.”

REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

A couple of days ago, I told someone that while pastoring certainly has its unique stresses (some of which can be downright debilitating at times), it also has incredible perks.

What’s the biggest perk? Getting paid to spend extra time in God’s Word, studying it, mining out its riches, and then sharing some of what I have discovered each week with God’s people! How cool is that!?

The Bible is a book like no other! You can read it, and read it, and read it again and never discover all of its hidden treasures. There is always something new, something deeper, some connection you never noticed before.

Honestly, I can’t wait for Heaven when Jesus will explain the Scriptures like He did to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. I want to feel, over and over in eternity, what they felt!

Luke 24:32 (CSB): “They said to each other, ‘Weren’t our hearts burning within us while he was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?'”

Friend, I’m about to show you some truths that are found in the verses that I have chosen for today. I hope that you experience happiness when you see the wonderful truths that I’m about to share with you.

Let’s look once again at our Verses for Today.

Luke 23:44-46 (CSB): “It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three, because the sun’s light failed. The curtain of the sanctuary was split down the middle. And Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.’ Saying this, he breathed his last.”

We are brought into this moment by being told that it was “about noon.”

We are told in Mark 15:25 that “it was nine in the morning when they crucified him.” So, Jesus had already been on the cross 3 hours when darkness “came over the whole land until three.”

At 3 PM, “the curtain of the sanctuary was split down the middle” as Jesus entrusted His spirit into God’s care and then “he breathed his last.”

It Was 3 PM

So, we ask ourselves the question: “Since the Gospel writers tell us what time the crucifixion started, what time the darkness covered the land, and what time Jesus died, what is the significance of knowing what time these events took place?”

Well, we need to realize that Jesus was crucified on a very special day in the life of the Israelites. Mark 19:14 tells us that “it was the day of Preparation for the Passover.” It was the day in which the sacrificial lambs were brought to the Jerusalem Temple to be inspected, slaughtered, and then eaten. This practice had been initiated about 1400-1500 years earlier.

The first-century historian, Josephus, tells us that the animals were slaughtered at a very specific time on the Day of Preparation.

So these high priests, upon the coming of that feast which is called the Passover, when they slay their sacrifices, from the ninth hour (3 PM) till the eleventh (5 PM).” – Flavius Joseph (The Wars of the Jews, 6.423)

Chosen People Ministries, a Messianic Jewish organization which seeks to evangelize Jews, agrees that Jesus died around the time that the Passover lambs were being killed in the Temple.

“Jesus died at 3:00 PM around the time of the afternoon sacrifices, which were offered in the Temple.”

So, it is incredibly significant that Jesus, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, cried out and then died at 3 PM. It was at that same time that the slaughter of the Passover lambs in the Temple had started, the same time those thousands of lambs were crying out and then dying.

The symbolism is powerful. The Old Testament account of the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12), the innocent lamb that died so that all in the house might live, was really a picture, an illustration, a shadow of the ultimate reality – Jesus.

It Was Completely Dark

As Jesus hung on the cross, we are told that “darkness came over the whole land until three” in the afternoon. The darkness is not incidental. It has major theological implications.

In the Bible, darkness was a picture of sin, death, judgment, God’s wrath, and other things of the sort.

Listen to Jesus as He spoke with Nicodemus. Listen as He refers to light and darkness.

John 3:19-21 (CSB): “This is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”

Clearly, light represents righteousness and truth. Darkness represents sin and untruth.

So, when Jesus was on the cross for the final three hours before His death, darkness covered the land. The Light of the World (John 8:12) was being killed by the powers of darkness. God the Father, who constantly reflects the brilliant, holy glory of His presence, had to turn His back on His Own Son because Jesus was wearing our sin. As the Lamb that would take away the sin of the world, He was wearing our sin and guilt. As a result, He was experiencing God’s rejection, wrath, and judgment that we deserved.

Since the Light of the world was being killed, and since God who “is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him” (1 John 1:5) turned His back on His Own Son, darkness prevailed for those three hours.

But, the beauty is that darkness did not prevail. Three days later, Jesus vacated that cold, dark tomb as He rose from the dead. Now, once and for all, Jesus has defeated the powers of darkness and is forever encompassed in the regal beauty and brilliance of His glory.

The Curtain Was Ripped

When God told Moses to construct the Old Testament tabernacle, an essential part of its assembly included “the veil.”

Exodus 26:31-35 tells us what the veil was made of, what was on it, how it was hung, and where it was in relation to the furniture in the tabernacle.

We find out in Leviticus 16 that there was only one man who could step behind that veil. It was the high priest. But, he had better comply with God’s specific guidelines or he was a dead man.

Leviticus 16:2 (CSB): “The LORD said to Moses: ‘Tell your brother Aaron that he may not come whenever he wants into the holy place behind the curtain in front of the mercy seat on the ark or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.'”

In the rest of Leviticus 16, we read that God said that only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies. But, he could only enter on the Day of Atonement, and he had better enter in God’s prescribed way and with his sins covered … or the Israelites would be looking for another High Priest.

But, we are told in our Verses for Today that at 3 PM, when Jesus finished His work of redemption, the veil was ripped. Luke only tells us that it “was split down the middle” but Matthew tells us that “the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51).

Mankind didn’t rip the curtain from earth to heaven. Instead, God ripped the veil from Heaven to earth.

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice and payment for sin, as the substitute for every single person who trusts in Him, God essentially said:

“You can come into my presence now! You don’t have to be afraid anymore! If you trust in Jesus and what He did for you on the cross, you can “come boldly” (Hebrews 4:16) into my presence on the merits of what Jesus has done for you.”

Conclusion

Wow, friends! Our God is amazing. And His Word is so amazing!

Why not spend some time today thanking Him for His goodness to you, particularly for what Jesus did for you on the cross.

Then, commit to spending more time digging into the goldmine of His Word, finding the joy of mining out its profound, life-giving truths and making the adjustments in your life so that you are becoming more like Jesus.

He’s worth it, my friend! He’s worth it!