Sermon #89 Series: Matthew
Title: THREE HOURS OF DARKNESS
Text: Matthew 27:45-56
Readings: Office: Larry Criss Auditorium: Rex Bartley
Subject: The Last Three Hours of Christ’s Agony
Date: Tuesday Evening - July 16, 1996
Tape # S-75
Yonder - amazing sight! - I see
Th’ incarnate Son of God
Expiring on th’ tree,
And weltering in His blood.
Behold, a purple torrent run
Down from His hands and head,
The crimson tide puts out the sun;
His groans awake the dead.
The trembling earth, the darken’d sky,
Proclaim the truth aloud;
And with th’ amazed centurion, cry,
“This is the Son of God!”
So great, so vast a sacrifice
May well my hope revive:
If God’s own Son thus bleeds and dies,
The sinner sure may live.
Oh that these cords of love divine
Might draw me, Lord, to Thee!
Thou hast my heart, it shall be Thine!
Thine it shall ever be!
The title of my message tonight is THREE HOURS OF DARKNESS. In the verses before us we have Matthew’s account of our Savior’s last three hours of agony upon the cursed tree, the last three hours of torture he endured for us, as our Substitute, because he was made to be sin for us. Let us read this inspired narrative with reverence, with hearts broken over sin and yet rejoicing at the forgiveness of sin obtained at such a price. May God the Holy Spirit sanctify our eyes, our hearts, and our minds as we once more attempt to meditate upon our Lord’s sufferings and to worship him who suffered all the hell of God’s holy wrath for us.
Matthew 27:45-56 "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. (46) And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (47) Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. (48) And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. (49) The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. (50) Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. (51) And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; (52) And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, (53) And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. (54) Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. (55) And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: (56) Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children."
After six hours of suffering the wrath of God as our Substitute, in his body, in his soul, and in his spirit, the Lord Jesus Christ became obedient unto death and “yielded up the ghost.”
Everything in these verses is simply remarkable. Everything here strikes me as utterly amazing. Therefore I want to speak of the things recorded here with utmost simplicity. Follow along in your Bibles as I show you six remarkable things written here for our learning, our faith, our comfort, and our admonition.
1. A Remarkable Darkness (v. 45).
2. A Remarkable Abandonment (vv. 46-49).
3. A Remarkable Death (v. 50).
4. A Remarkable Display (vv. 51-53).
5. A Remarkable Confession (v. 54).
6. A Remarkable Loyalty (vv. 55-56).
I. First, Matthew calls our attention to A Remarkable Darkness.
Matthew 27:45 "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour."
This was not a natural solar eclipse, but a supernatural one, an eclipse specifically performed by God on this occasion. It was an eclipse that the prophet Amos prophesied. "It shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day" (Amos 8:9). It lasted for three hours. And it was attested to by men in other parts of the world who had no idea what was going on in Jerusalem. One Dionysius, living in Egypt at the time, said, “Either the Divine Being suffers, or suffers with him that suffers, or the frame of the world is dissolving.” Apparently, this eclipse was a complete eclipse of the sun around the entire world at one time, truly a remarkable eclipse. For three hours, from high noon until three o’clock, the sun refused to shine. Thus the Lord God gives a vivid, symbolic display of four things.
A. The Heinousness of the Crime Being Committed!
Though our Savior died and was slaughtered by the hands of wicked men exactly according to the purpose, will, and decree of God almighty for the salvation of his elect, God’s decrees did in any way excuse their sin in crucifying him.
Note: Let no one use God’s sovereignty as an excuse for wickedness!
B. The Blackness, Darkness, and Blindness of Men’s Hearts By Nature!
No impression was made upon these men, though God performed miracles unheard of before or since all around them! The fact is, man’s heart by nature is so blind that no acts of providence, either in goodness or in judgment, can be seen by him, unless God takes the scales off his eyes.
C. The Emptiness and Darkness of Christless Religion!
Judaism had become mere ritualism. As such it was altogether darkness. Religion without Christ, without life, without faith, is darkness, no matter how orthodox it appears!
D. The Darkness that Passed Upon and Engulfed Our Savior’s Holy Soul When He was Made To Be Sin For Us!
When the Light of the world was made to be sin darkness flooded the world as darkness flooded his soul!
II. Second, the Holy Spirit moved Matthew to record for us
A Remarkable Abandonment.
Matthew 27:46 "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
“And about the ninth hour,“ About three o'clock in the afternoon, which was about the time of the slaying and offering of the daily sacrifice, which was an eminent type of Christ, “Jesus cried with a loud voice:” as in great distress, having been silent during the three hours darkness, and patiently bearing all his soul sufferings, under a sense of divine wrath, and the hidings of his Father's countenance, and his conflicts with the powers of darkness; but now, in the anguish of his soul, he breaks out, “saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Here our Savior speaks as a man, the man chosen, made, ordained, and anointed by God with the oil of gladness above his fellows. As a man, our Lord was upheld and strengthened by the Father, just as we are. As a man he trusted God, loved him, and prayed to him, just as we do, only he did so perfectly, without sin! Though now the Father hid his face from him, still he expresses strong faith in him and love for him.
· When he is said to be "forsaken" of God; the meaning is not that he was separated from the love of God or did not know the reason for his abandonment. Our Surety now stood in our place, bearing our sins. He therefore had to endure abandonment by God the Father to satisfy justice.
This cry, “My God, my God, Why hast thou forsaken me?” expresses the very soul of his sufferings as our Substitute. Indeed, all the wailings and howlings of the damned in hell to all eternity will fall infinitely short of expressing the evil and bitterness of sin. But here we see how vile a thing sin is. When God found our sin upon his darling Son, he forsook him in wrath! Whenever we read these words, hear them, or think about them - “My God, my God, Why hast thou forsaken me?” - we ought to immediately realize that...
· The Lord our God is infinitely holy and just.
· The holy Lord God must and will punish all sin.
· The Lord God Almighty loves his people with an infinite, indescribable, everlasting love!
· God’s elect shall never be forsaken, neither in this world nor in the world to come!
Matthew 27:47-49 "Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. (48) And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. (49) The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him."
III. Third, we should always remember, when we think of our Savior’s death, that he died A Remarkable Death.
Matthew 27:50 "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost."
Our Lord’s strength was not abated. His last word was not the gasping breath of a failing life, but the triumphant shout of a conquering King! The Son of God voluntarily laid down his life for his sheep! He did not lose his spirit, he dismissed it! His work was finished. His life was complete. Therefore he laid it down!
· As a Voluntary Surety!
· As a Vicarious Sufferer!
· As a Victorious Savior!
John 10:14-18 "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (15) As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (16) And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (17) Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. (18) No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."
IV. Fourth, the Lord God gave A Remarkable Display, a display for all to behold that this One who died at Calvary two thousand years ago is indeed the Christ of God.
Matthew 27:51-53 "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; (52) And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, (53) And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."
Anyone who considers the miracles that were performed by God’s providence at this time must recognize as the centurion did, that “This man was the Son of God!”
· The Rent Veil!
· The Earthquake and Rent Rocks!
· The Opened Graves!
· The Resurrected Saints! (After the Lord’s Resurrection)
V. Fifth, Matthew records A Remarkable Confession made by one of our Savior’s tormentors.
Matthew 27:54 "Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God."
VI. Sixth, we see in the women standing by A Remarkable Loyalty.
Matthew 27:55-56 "And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: (56) Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children."
Sons of peace redeem’d by blood,
Raise your songs to Zion’s God;
Made from condemnation free,
Grace triumphant sing with me.
Calvary’s wonders let us trace,
Justice magnified in grace;
Mark the purple streams, and say,
Thus my sins were wash’d away.
Wrath divine no more we dread,
Vengeance smote our Surety’s head;
Legal claims are fully met,
Jesus paid the dreadful debt.
Sin is lost beneath the flood,
Drown’d in the Redeemer’s blood,
Zion, oh! how blest art thou,
Justified from all things now.