Lloyd Leavitt has lived all of his life in Barrow, Alaska. For 57 years he has endured the cold. The snow. The sub-zero freeze that blankets the little town on the farthest northern tip of the state. But he’ll tell you that what really gets to him are the weeks of continual darkness.
In Barrow the sun sets on November 18 and it doesn’t rise again until January 24th. For sixty-five days the sun doesn’t shine! “There comes a time,” Leavitt says, “when you don’t know if it’s morning or evening; you get confused.”
On that Friday Jesus was crucified folks must have been confused at the darkness. Dr. Luke records, “It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured; (Lk. 23:44-45). For three hours, from noon to 3pm, the land was engulfed in darkness. It was mysterious! Unexplainable! Terrifying!
At least Leavitt and the residents of Barrow can explain the darkness. They know it’s coming. And why. But those around the cross did not. Imagine the conversations that occurred.
“It’s a solar eclipse,” cried a Roman solider. “No,” said the Centurion. “The moon is full. There can’t be a solar eclipse when we have a full moon.”
“Maybe a storm is coming,” another soldier wondered. “Yes,” said another, “Maybe a dust storm.” But there was no storm. No dust in the air. Only darkness. Darkness when the day should have been the brightest.
The darkness was God sent. “It was,” as Warren Wiersbe put it, “as though all nature was sympathizing with the Creator as He suffered and died.” Darkness covered the land of Egypt prior to the first Passover for three days. (Ex 10:21). Appropriately, God sent the darkness for three hours while Christ, our Passover Lamb, was sacrificed.
Of course, throughout scripture, darkness is associated with judgment. Jesus was judged guilty, yet he was innocent. The darkness reminds me of my guilt. My sin. My shame. But how Jesus took my place as God allowed Him to be slaughtered for my transgressions.
The darkness also speaks to the darkness of the dastardly deed done to the sinless Son of God. The darkness of sin. The darkness of evil hearts. The darkness of hate. Envy. And pride. Those sins sent Jesus to the cross. Yes, it was a dark Friday in history. But what folks didn’t know and couldn’t foresee was the light of Sunday!
As the daylight broke forth and sun came shining across that tomb, the Son arose! “The Light of the World” was alive! Darkness was defeated! The Devil was crippled. And death was overcome!
It’s easy for us to become fearful of our “Fridays” darkness. Confused. Terrified. The world is engulfed in the darkness of sin. Evil is acclaimed as enlightenment. Perversion is praised. Lust is glorified. Greed is called good. Pleasure is preferred over sacrifice. Truth is twisted. Justice is denied. And shame has been replaced by an unblushing, brazen, in your face affront to sobriety, morality and godliness.
And worse yet, too often we find ourselves either indifferent, accepting or engaging in the darkness of day.
But there is good news! The “Light” lives! Shines! And beckons us to a better day! He calls us out of darkness into His marvelous light. He has the power over darkness and the devil. We can receive redemption. Find forgiveness. Enjoy enlightenment. And see the light of our resurrection morning!
Don’t despair! It may be Friday. But Sunday’s coming!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman