Matthew 27:45-66 Part 1


We are going to proceed with the new text this morning; but I think I mentioned to you before that there would be a few comments this time… to finish up the previous text.  I don’t want to miss anything having to do with our Lord’s crucifixion; and I know you don’t.

But last time we spent the hour speaking to you about the “negation” of the Christ in His crucifixion and in His resurrection and in His ascension.  And we touched on “blaspheming the Holy Spirit”, which the Scriptures seem to indicate is “attributing the Work of the Spirit to “Beelzeboul” (Satan).

Then we heard some words of exhortation about our apathy with regard to the Kingdom.  And even though those words might have been seen as excessive, I’m still looking forward to this Church’s and other Church’s response to the Great Commission (when we get there – chapter twenty-eight).  As I’ve said to some of you, the more I contemplate the whole of what’s been done here for us (in the humiliation, suffering, and crucifixion of Jesus Christ), the more convinced I am that our response to Him (as recipients and beneficiaries) has been very weak… “pathetic” may be the word, I think.  We have not been a “responding” people… a thankful, grateful, joyful, people who “delight” in having been moved by God from death into life!

In examining my own ministry as a preaching elder, I have to wonder, and wrestle with God, as to “why” that’s the case.  We have fathers here and in many other Churches who have lost children to the world order.  And let’s be very open, here.  The reasons are not to be sought – FIRST – in the sovereign election and reprobation of God.

Although there may be great comfort in that, the reasons ought FIRST to be sought in the examples and ministries of the fathers (not to conveniently leave out wives and mothers).

And I must liken my preaching to that, for the issues here are of the same nature.  If the Church isn’t gratefully responding to so great salvation by zealously contending for the Kingdom, then I can’t FIRST attribute that “mindset” to the sovereign will of God!

There really should be no comfort in the doctrine of our Lord’s sovereign administration of His Church unless we first submit ourselves to correction in poverty of spirit!

And here we are in the most blessed of all texts of Scriptures, as God the Son submits Himself to shame and humiliation and blasphemies and – yea, even death itself by crucifixion – (and we are) dealing with apathy in the Lord’s Kingdom, renegade children, moral relativism, and contentious brothers!  It seems to me that WE are the ones who are “upside down”!  This whole event – the justice of God poured out upon our Substitute – is the occasion for the crushing of our proud spirits; it is hostile to apathy, it is hostile to rebellions, hostile to immorality, it is hostile to contention.  It is friendly only to humility.

In these last five verses (forty through forty-four) our Lord was blasphemed and accused and mocked.  His words were deliberately taken out of context and mis-stated, the prophecies of God in the Old Testament were turned upside down, His resurrection was blasphemed, the fact that He was the Anointed Son of God was mocked, the fact that He was the Savior of mankind was ridiculed, the signs of Messiah (the miracles of Jesus) were denied as deceptions of Satan, and His Kingship was put on display as if it were buffoonery!

And our Lord suffered in these with incredible agony as He took our sin upon Himself.  He suffered all the humiliation in silence, and He became the “Man of Sorrows” in the most terrifying sense of the term.

And the mockery and blasphemy He now endures on the cross is even more hellish than that which came at His trial.  Now He is “outside the gate”; now He has “no place” at all; now His descent is into death/hades.  This is what we might call the “catastrophic curse”.

And as the Lone Recipient of judgment for the curse of God, He prays to His Father that this might pass from man (Father, forgive them…).  It is truly a “high priestly prayer” – for us… so that we not suffer the eternal catastrophe.  Then in an act of complete subjection and resignation, He transfers Himself to His disciple for the sake of His mother.

He cannot come “down”.  He cannot assuage His thirst, for the “mockery” continues with an offering of vinegar (directly from Psalm sixty-nine).  He must suffer the “second death” now… before we suffer our first.

What more is there to say here?  I suppose we could spend more time in preaching and explanation… much more.  The other words of Jesus from the cross are found in the other three Gospels.

But having heard, now, the extent of the catastrophic curse borne by our Substitute; and being aware of the eternal judgment from which we’ve been freed; and sensing (even a little) the abandonment and grief to which our Lord Jesus was subjected for us, shouldn’t we be in an altogether different condition than we’re in?

Where there is indifference and inertia, should there not be, rather, gratitude and joy and zeal?  As the apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth, “Thanks be unto God for His priceless gift…!”  And as he wrote to Titus:  “…and our Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people – zealous of good works!”

And where there is defiance and rebellion (children), should there not be, rather, humiliation and poverty of spirit?  Our Lord’s brother, James, wrote to the Churches and said:


“…God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble.  Submit yourselves therefore to God….  Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands and purify your hearts, you double-minded people.  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep.  Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord….”


And where there is contention and hardness of heart among brothers, should there not be, rather, a preference for love and mercy… and words which are laced with grace?  Our Lord in Matthew chapter eighteen said, “Take heed lest you despise one of these little ones….”  Those who belong to Him are His; and He is jealous for them.  Don’t look down on them; don’t negate them; don’t despise them….  It would be better for one to be drowned in the depths of the sea with a millstone around his neck than to despise one of them.

And the apostle Paul, writing the Church at Corinth, said:  “Wouldn’t you rather be wronged than (to be in contention with your brother)?”  He belongs to Christ.  True Christian humility will evidence itself by preferring to suffer wrong rather than being offended by and contentious with another babe in Christ.

Now I’m not your father-confessor here; and I’m not your judge; and I’m not God the Holy Spirit.  I’m just a messenger.  So don’t set me up in a place where I shouldn’t be!

So, if you have your own logical reasons and excuses for the apathy and for the rebellion and for immorality and for contention, then maybe the Lord will hear you out as you explain them to Him.

However, it remains that our Lord Jesus Christ became sin for us; He was the willing, substitute sacrifice for us… being abandoned by God and suffering the agony of death in our place.  He was our atonement.  He was negated….  He became “a worm” and “no man” – experiencing the mockery and blasphemy of mankind.  And He did it all in order that we might not be delivered to the “catastrophic curse”.  That was the price by which our salvation was purchased.

The more I read and study it… and preach it… the more astonished I am that God did this for us.  And yet there is so little that we do in response to His great love.  We even become discouraged because the immediate evidence of His love doesn’t meet our expectations!


Verse forty-five:


“Now darkness existed upon all the earth from sixth hour until hour ninth.”


That sounds a little strange, but that’s the way it reads in the Greek.  The sixth hour was noon; and the ninth hour was three o’clock in the afternoon.

So darkness occurred at the time that the sun was at its zenith… when it shone with its strongest light – from noon until the middle of the afternoon.  This was the first great phenomena in connection with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The first idea that people have, when this is read, is that “maybe there was a solar eclipse!”  But the language here doesn’t justify even and idea such as that!  Why would one even suspect that a solar eclipse (by the moon, or course) would cover the entire earth!  It’s preposterous to even begin with such an idea.

Then others would try and find some other explanation for it.  Maybe, they say, in connection with so evil an event the Gospel writers were using hyperbole (a linguistic, or poetic, device – darkness equals evil).  Or maybe there was some kind of “vapor”, or dust, that settled over the area; and it wasn’t really “dark”, but just somewhat “darker” than usual.

But the text says that during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ darkness from the sixth hour… that means it happened at noon.  And it existed .  And it existed until the ninth hour… that means it stopped at three o’clock!

The Greek word which I translated “existed” is ginomai, which has to do with “being”.  Darkness did not happen by circumstance or by chance.  It was.  It existed!  And it had a definite starting point and a definite end.  And it covered the earth.  The sun did not stop shining; God did not put out the lights of the sun and the stars….

You remember in Genesis that God created “light” before He created the sun and the stars.  “And there was light.”  Light doesn’t occur naturally from the sun or from the stars.  It was created by God beforehand!  So He doesn’t need the sun and stars in order for there to be light.

So, therefore, He doesn’t need to “put out” the sun and the stars in order for there to be “darkness”!  Darkness existed.  It was!  And it was from noon until three o’clock.

Now, what was the reason for the existence of darkness for those three hours?  A number of reasons have been offered… few of which have any merit.  One says that all of nature suffered with the dying Savior.  Because He suffered… it suffered.  And darkness is a symbol representation of that suffering.

Another says that the sun and the moon and the stars couldn’t endure the humiliation and death of the Son of God; so, in sympathy with Him, they would not cast their light!

Well, both of these “reasons” for the darkness aren’t really “reasons” at all.  Because they both attribute to the creation something other than it really is.  Both “personify” creation… as if it had some “moral character”, or some ability to reason, or some empathic ability.  But the creation can’t “feel” suffering; neither can it express “empathy”.

Both of these (so-called) reasons for the darkness place the emphasis on “nature” – as if it were some strange phenomena in which the creation was itself involved!  But the creation wasn’t involved personally nor could it be.  Creation can’t do anything!

Another reason proposed here for the existence of darkness is that God brought it about in order to express His moral outrage at the crucifixion of His Son.  Well, that’s a little closer to reality… but not much.  God did bring it about.  In fact He created it.  Just as He created light by fiat, here He creates darkness by fiat.  And He didn’t “decreate” the sun in order to do it.  As we heard earlier, light doesn’t exist because of the existence of the sun… it exists independently of the sun.  So darkness was created by fiat… independently of the “decreation” of the sun.

So, if none of these (and there are others) if none of these are the reason that darkness existed from noon until three o’clock, where do we go to find the real reason?

Where do we always go to find the real reason?  We really don’t need to speculate, do we?  We don’t need to get the “creative juices” flowing in order to “explain” what looks like a “mysterious phenomena”!

We call them “phenomena” of nature… wherein, if one looks at these things from a purely humanistic viewpoint, they seem very mysterious; and they beg for some “natural” explanation.  Just like the passage in Joshua chapter ten… Joshua prayed to God that it would remain daylight in order that they could finish the slaughter of a Canaanite army.  The writer says that the sun did not go down for a whole day!

And astronomers and scientists have wrestled over that one for ages… trying to find a lost day in history (as if time was an eternal entity, and had primacy, and everything else was related to it)!  But there is no “lost” day in history.  Time isn’t eternal… it is a creation of God.  And He stopped time; and He stopped the movement of the universe in order that Joshua could complete the task that God had commanded him to do!

It’s not a mysterious phenomena….  God did something with His Own creation – stopped the universe – which, from our point of view, was out of the ordinary, and by which we may worship and glorify Him in His majesty and His great power!

Herein is one of the many reasons why any deviation from the six-day creation must be immediately and thoroughly rejected.  Since God did create by fiat – by bringing the universe into being by the Word of His Power, by bringing “light” into existence on the first day, and by creating the sun and the stars on the fourth day, we need no imagination or speculation or creative juices in order to understand the creation of darkness for three hours!  If light exists because He created it, then it’s no “stretch” to believe darkness existed for three hours because He created it.

But again, what’s the reason?  Let’s quickly go to the Scriptures.  Listen to Exodus chapter ten, starting at verse twenty-one:


“And the Lord said unto Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there my be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness that may be felt.’  And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days.  They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days; but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.”


Egyptians had no light, for God had interrupted its existence!

Now it is obvious that there is a connection here between the absolute darkness for three days in Egypt, and the three days that Jonah spent in the belly of the fish, and the three days during which Jesus was buried, and the three hours at the crucifixion.  We could explore those connections for quite a while.

But over and above that, this ninth plague upon Egypt was a sign of judgment… after which there was salvation for Israel.  Keep that in mind as we read Isaiah chapter thirteen, verse nine:


“Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate:  and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.  For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in its going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.  And I will punish the world for evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.”


The darkness is a sign in connection with judgment upon the principalities and powers that be.  And here is Ezekiel thirty-two, verse seven, in prophecy against those same principalities:


“And when I shall put you out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light.  All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon your land, saith the Lord God.”


This is a direct prophecy of what occurred in our text!

One more (of many) and we’ll be through.  Here’s Joel chapter two concerning the great army that shall overrun Israel:


“…a day of darkness and of gloominess; a day of clouds and of thick darkness… the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining….”


So you see there is no question now about the reason for the darkness, is there?  From the beginning darkness has been associated with judgment.  It was prophesied again and again in the Old Testament.  The principalities and powers were fallen and coming under Covenant sanctions as the Lord Jesus Christ hung on the cross!  It had happened to Egypt before; and now it would happen to Israel and her leaders.  Three hours of absolute darkness existed over all the earth.  And the catastrophic curse would now come to pass upon Israel.

There are other events which accompanied the crucifixion and death of Jesus; and we’ll see those next time… along with the final words of Christ from the cross.