John 1:5 – The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (NIV)
John 3:19 – This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. (NIV)
The Gospel of Mark describes the darkest hour the world had ever known:
Mark 15:33-34 – At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" — which means "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" (NIV)
When I reviewed a lesson plan for Sunday school, the discussion questions included the statement that all the criticisms we make are another form of autobiography. Contemplating this thought, I realized that it is a sound idea worthy of consideration, so I applied this principle to the various commentaries made by some observers who witnessed the crucifixion. In the verses preceding today's from Mark's gospel, we learn that those who passed by hurled insults at Jesus, thus fulfilling the messianic prophecies of Psalm 22. In short, these statements suggest disbelief, contempt, curiosity, and belief:
- From the chief priests and elders: "He saved others, but He can't save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." (Mark 15:31-32a NIV)
- From those crucified with Him: various insults. (verse 32b) (Luke makes it clear that one thief later had a change of heart.)
- From some standing near: "He's calling Elijah." (verse 35)
- From one person: "Leave Him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take Him down." (verse 36)
- From the centurion: "Surely, this man was the Son of God!" (verse 39)
The ridicule marking the first three hours of Jesus' suffering was abruptly ended by darkness. During that time, Scripture gives a glimpse of Jesus' intense suffering and feeling of abandonment by His Father: a pain unlike any other He had endured. Still, it is difficult to understand the deep agonizing sense of separation our Lord experienced for the sake of sinners.
Through Scripture, we, too, can observe the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. As believers, we have the opportunity to show the world an autobiography of faith — a faith that reveals a heart of love and appreciation for our blessed Saviour. Therefore, let us "show forth the praises of him who hath called [us] out of darkness into his marvellous light." (1 Peter 2:9b KJV)
Prayer: Father, You have not left us alone to fumble in the darkness, but You have allowed Your light to shine into our hearts. Help us daily to walk in Your light so that we may honour You always in thought, word, and deed, for the glory of Your Son, Jesus Christ. For His name's sake, we pray. Amen.
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