Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Were You There"1 (Lyrics)
During Lent, I was studying some of the events leading up to and including the death of Jesus on the cross, and, in particular, the passages in the book of Matthew where the authorities and other people were mocking Jesus. "Even the robbers who were crucified with Him also reviled Him with the same thing", so the Bible says. (Matthew 27:44 NKJV) Then, the next verse reads:
Matthew 27:45 – Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. (NKJV)
While I was studying these events, I suddenly remembered that back in 1950, it was suddenly dark during the day, here in southern Ontario, Canada. My mother and I witnessed it, and she was convinced that it was the end of the world. However, the next day, we heard that it was caused by smoke from forest fires thousands of miles away in the province of Alberta.
In an effort to check this out, I found from an Internet article in the Edmonton Journal that the fire had started in northeastern British Columbia, then crossed over into Alberta. Some 14,000 square kilometres of forest went up in flames. Smoke from the fire was seen in parts of Canada and the United States, and as far away as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
Here in this area, the sun turned to various shades of blue and violet. In the city of Toronto, Ontario, the streetlights were turned on at midday. Chickens went to roost because it was dark in the middle of the day. It was an eerie experience. The blaze burned for 222 days and torched a stretch of forest that was 245 kilometres long. It was the biggest forest fire to hit Canada at that time.
On the day that Jesus died, I'm sure that the people in Israel were mystified as well when it turned dark in the middle of the day. Those who were not witnesses to the events happening on Golgotha may have really wondered what was happening.
But there is darkness over the lands these days as well: spiritual darkness caused by wars and rumours of wars, political instability, thefts, murders, racial discrimination, persecution of Christians, and apathy towards the Christian faith. Many of us wonder if it is indeed a sign of the end of the age.
When Jesus was born, there was a bright star in the sky, brighter than any other star, to let the world know that the light of the world was born. When Jesus died, the light also died; day became night. It appeared that God wanted nothing else to do with the world at that moment, not even with His own Son. The next verse reads:
Matthew 27:46b – Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, … "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (NKJV)
Do you have times when you feel forsaken — times when you are walking in darkness? Remember these words of Jesus:
Matthew 11:28 – Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (NKJV)
Hebrews 13:5b – He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (NKJV)
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, there are times when we feel so distraught about the things going on in our lives and in the world. But we know that we can always come to You in prayer and know that You can and will take the darkness away from us. We thank You, in Jesus' name. Amen.