Jump Start # 1916
Matthew 27:54 “Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.”
Our verse today comes from Jerusalem. Jesus is dying upon the cross. The sky became dark. The “sixth’ hour” is noon. The “ninth hour” is 3 PM. From noon until 3, the prime time for the brightest part of the day, the sky became dark.
Today is eclipse day. Everyone is buzzing about that. I have an eclipse t-shirt and my special eclipse glasses. Where I live is a pretty good spot for the eclipse, nearly total. I’ve heard that song birds will sing like it’s evening, while the eclipse is taking place. The temperature will drop about ten degrees during the eclipse. People are traveling to special places so they can get a great glimpse. There hasn’t been anything like this in nearly 100 years.
All of this hype about our eclipse made me think about those few dark hours at Calvary. Not only was the sun obscured, as Luke states it, but there was a massive earthquake. The curtain in the Temple was torn in two, and the graves of the righteous were opened and the dead were resurrected. This was much more than an eclipse. It had God’s finger prints all over it. Miraculous events took place.
Our eclipse today reminds us of three important Biblical truths. Even in natural events, such as today, there are things we can see spiritually that will help us in our journey with Christ.
First, the sky will darken. It will darken for us about the same time it darkened at the death of Jesus. Without Christ, how dark our world can quickly become. There are strong moments today to remove Christianity from society. No church buildings. No Bibles. No prayers. No references to God. Many folks would like that. They think life would be better that way. They do not realize how dark things would really become. Racism, prejudice, violence, hatred can only be conquered by love, forgiveness and the principles that are in the Bible. Remove Christ, and the world gets really dark. Christ brings hope, joy and forgiveness. Christ brings peace. Christ builds bridges that connects people rather than separates them. Our music, art, literature are all influenced by the goodness of Jesus Christ. Remove Jesus and the world becomes a dreadful place.
Second, lights shine the brightest in dark places. As the sky darkens today, some car headlights might come on. Some street lights might come on. We are the light of the world, Jesus tells His disciples. We shine the brightest in dark places. Think about that for a moment. You may be the only N.T. Christian where you work. Sure there may be some good people, some may even go to church services once in a while, but to be a devoted, dedicated follower of Christ, you might be the only one. Your light shines. Honesty is something people will know you for. Kindness is found in your words. People will recognize that you are a straight shooter. You don’t play favorites or use people to your advantage. In time, people will even come to you for help, advice and insights. Why? Because you stand out. You are a light.
Also, consider your family. You may be the only Christian in your family. When the family all gets together, you shine. You are helpful. You are thoughtful. You don’t talk about other people in a negative or hurtful way. You praise God and His people. They may not all agree with you and they may even mock you for being “so religious,” but there is something in your character that they notice. There is a goodness about you that is missing in their lives.
Third, after the eclipse this afternoon, the sun will come back out. Tomorrow all the eclipse glasses will be tossed in a box or the trash can. Life will go on, and in time people will not think much about it. The sun came back out in Jerusalem when Jesus died. But His death changed things. Things were never the same after that. Satan thought he won. The dead Jesus brought a smile to Satan’s face. But three days later, “up from the grave He arose.” That huge stone that sealed the tomb of Jesus was rolled away. Christ walked out of that grave, crushing Satan and filling the world with hope and salvation.
We ought to be a different people because of what happened that dark day in Jerusalem. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are never the same. Who wants to return to the darkness, when we can live in the bright light of the Gospel? Who wants their soul to remain dark and spoiled when they can be washed in the blood of Jesus?
Eclipses are fascinating. The death and resurrection of Jesus is more than that. It’s life changing.
We are of the day, Paul told the Thessalonians. Darkness, referring to sin and evil, has been removed from our hearts and we prefer the day to the night.