Darkness. Have you ever been in a place that was so dark that it felt like you could feel the darkness all around you? You could not see anything. It did not matter how much you strained or how wide you opened your eyes there was just darkness.
I have been there. I was serving in a church and our youth minister would set up these very elaborate mazes made of cardboard boxes. He and his team would spend hours designing these intricate mazes that would fill a small warehouse. Once the maze was complete several of the volunteers would crawl into the maze with all of the lights on in the warehouse. They would look for little holes and seems where light was shining through and then they would tape them up. By the time they were finished no light at all could get in the maze.
Then they would open the maze up for all the youth and anyone else who wanted to try to figure it out. If you went into the maze you could not take anything in it with you that would shine any kind of light. No watches. No flashlights. Nothing. Then when the time came the lights in the warehouse were turned off and the brave would begin crawling through the maze. Most had a lot of fun. There were some that just could not take the confined spaces and the total darkness and would need help to get out. Occasionally, someone would get so desperate that they would literally break through the boxes to get out.
I decided to try the maze out. I entered into complete darkness. There was no light anywhere. I could literally not see my hand even when it was touching my nose. I did conquer the maze and made it all the way to the end.
The maze was fun and I knew that if I needed help it was not far away. But the darkness was intimidating. The complete inability to see anything at all was enough to make me or anyone else feel very apprehensive. You did not know if there was a turn coming up or if you were coming to a dead end and needed to find a way to turn around and go back and find another way out. Fortunately for me and everyone else that went in the maze there was a way out.
The darkness I felt in that maze reminds me of another time of darkness. This darkness was not a fun filled game people played. This darkness was not confined to the inside of a maze made of boxes. This darkness covered the world.
It happened just outside of Jerusalem. A three-hour darkness covered the entire land. And while everyone alive at that time experienced it there was one for whom the darkness was even greater. Jesus entered into what I would call four different kinds of darkness.
- Jesus entered the darkness of rejection.
As Jesus was on the cross those who were supposed to be looking for Him to come and save them, those who were supposed to be telling others about Him were standing on the ground at the foot of the cross mocking Him.
Mark 15:31-32 – “…the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked Him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but He can’t save himself! 32 Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with Him also heaped insults on Him.
These priests and teachers were responsible for preparing others for the coming of the Messiah and yet they were at the foot of the cross hurling insults and celebrating the fact they had helped to crucify the One whom they were supposed to Worship and follow. Jesus had been rejected by the very ones who should know who He really is.
Not only that but at this point in this story the criminals being crucified with Him were joining the priests to mock Jesus. Those who were suffering the same fate as Jesus were mocking Him!
Jesus could have saved Himself but He endured this suffering and rejection because of His love for them and for us. He knew there was no other way to save them or us. Jesus could have chosen not to take the pain and humiliation. He could have chosen to kill those who mocked Him but He suffered through it all because He loved even His enemies.
- Jesus entered the darkness of desertion.
Even those who said they loved Jesus turn their backs on Him. His own disciples deserted Him in His time of greatest need.
- Judas had betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver.
- James and John had said they wanted to be on either side of Jesus when He came into His Kingdom but the only ones by His side are those who were crucified along with Him.
- Peter said that everyone else would desert Jesus but he never would. Not only would he desert Him but he would also deny Him three times.
- All but one of His own disciples had run away from Him and were in hiding. Only John was at the foot of the cross with Jesus’ mom and a few other women.
Think about it. In the time you are in your greatest need, in the time you are hurting the most, in the time you are at your most vulnerable you suddenly find yourself completely deserted by those who said they would be with you no matter what. We can all imagine how dark that would be.
- Jesus entered the darkness of loneliness.
Mark 15:33-34 – 33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
At this point in history something happened to Jesus that has never happened nor will it ever happen to anyone else. Jesus was completely alone.
Jesus was quoting from Psalm 22. That entire Psalm is a prophecy expressing the deep agony of the Messiah’s death for the sins of the whole world. Jesus knew that He would temporarily be separated from God the moment He took upon Himself our sins.
That separation is what He had dreaded as He prayed in Gethsemane. Jesus knew that our sins separated us from our Heavenly Father. He knew that when He took our sins on Himself that God would have to look away from Him because a Righteous Holy God cannot look on sin.
The physical agony was horrible but the spiritual alienation from God was the ultimate torture. That was the darkest time for Jesus. That was the time when He was completely and entirely alone!
- Jesus entered the darkness of the grave
Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus asked for Jesus’ body. His body was taken down from the cross and hastily prepared for burial. He was then taken to a freshly prepared grave and placed in it. Then the stone was rolled over the opening, those who brought Him there walked away and He was left in that place of death.
Can any of us begin to imagine the pain and darkness Jesus’ mother Mary and the other women were feeling when they watched Jesus die and be buried? Can any of us imagine what John and any of Jesus’ other friends must have been feeling?
The darkness they entered into must have been overwhelming. The One they believed was coming to deliver them from bondage was now dead and bound in grave cloths. The One they believed was going to establish His Kingdom was crucified. The One they had chosen to follow was now at the end of His journey. The One they believed would bring them victory was now buried in defeat.
That Friday was the darkest day of their lives. They thought it was all over and the darkness would never leave. They could not imagine a way out of this pit. But that was on Friday and what they didn’t know is that the story was not finished yet.
What about you? Are you in darkness right now? Do you feel that the darkness you are dealing with is so great that you can’t see any way light could ever overcome it? Is it emotional? Is it spiritual? Are you dealing with the darkness of despair? Has your past so overshadowed your present that you feel it is blocking out all light? Do you think that because of your past that your future looks dark?
You may be in the darkness of your own personal Friday but I want to encourage you and give you hope. Hang in there because your story is not yet finished. The Light is coming!