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When the Sun Stopped Shining

Reading: Matthew 27:1-56

There have been many dramatisations of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, each depicting the determination of the Jewish leaders, Jesus’ stoicism before both the Jewish leaders and Pilate, and the gruesome treatment that Jesus received at the hands of the Roman soldiers. There is one verse in the account, in Matthew, Mark and Luke’s gospels, however, that stands out as somewhat different to the brutality that has gone before it.

From noon until three in the afternoon, darkness came over all the land. (Matthew 27:45)

Up until that point in the crucifixion, the events, whilst happening at the will of God, were being inflicted upon Jesus by men. But no human power could cause the sun to stop shining for three hours in the middle of the day. This astounding aspect of the crucifixion was wholly in the hands of God.

Theories about the significance of this aspect of the crucifixion vary, but one suggestion is that it was at this point that Jesus experienced the torture of being separated from God by the burden of the sins, past, present and future, of mankind. As we are separated from God by our sin, as our sin stands in the way of us experiencing the intimacy of relationship with our Heavenly Father that Jesus was so accustomed to, Jesus experienced that same separation from God, only magnified to compensate for the sins of every believer to come. He paid the price necessary to purchase our righteousness, and for three hours, before His body gave up His life, that separation obliterated the sun from the sky.

Cross - darkJesus Himself declared Himself to be the light of the world – and it has also been suggested that the three hours of darkness immediately before His death signified the temporary extinguishing of the light of the world at the hands of men.

But, we have to remember that the sun only stopped shining for three hours, a pointer to the hope of the resurrection less than 48 hours later.


Father God, as we remember the suffering that Jesus endured on the cross, we thank you for your love, for your grace and for your mercy. Thank you that you sent your own precious Son to pay the penalty for our sins, and to set us free from the bondage of sin. Help us to remember that that there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, and to never forget the true cost of our salvation. But thank you, too, Father God, that the obliteration of the sunlight was only temporary, and we can look forward to the promise of the resurrection with great joy.

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