“From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.” (Matthew 27:45 NIV)
How long is three hours? Could you sit quietly and count out the seconds as they drip past? Would you be content to simply breathe and feel your heart beat?
What about three hours in the dark? Perhaps on sleepless nights we get a taste of this waiting: not knowing when it will end.
How do we make sense of the three hours of unnatural darkness while Jesus died? And how dark was it? Dim? Completely pitch black? Did anyone bother to call for torches, intensifying the scene with theatrical lighting? Perhaps people couldn’t clearly see the crosses and the men on them anymore.
But these men would have been heard. In the dark, would the groans and laboured breathing of the crucified be confused as one voice? In our dark world, I still cannot distinguish the groans of Jesus from all the others.
Perhaps it would be easier to gasp along with them, for the other onlookers would also be shrouded in darkness, hiding tears, scowls, and frowns of confusion. It wouldn’t matter any more how everyone else is responding; in the darkness, we are alone before the God who once waited for death.
The darkness likely quieted the mockers at least. They had already called out jeers for three hours. Did the darkness come suddenly, cutting off their shouts? Or did it creep in, slowing their words with shadows?
In the darkness, we are alone before the God who once waited for death.
The final three hours of Jesus’ life were private ones, shrouded in darkness, yet public enough to be certain of his dying and death. In these hidden moments a secret war was raging, as Jesus was dying and taking death down with him—yet who of the onlookers would have known this hope as they waited?
How loud could a last-breath shout really be? Yet it was more than enough to declare to a waiting, watching, silent crowd: “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
How long did it take for the darkness to dissipate? Perhaps in those long three hours of waiting some assumed that the light would never return; after all, the Light of the world was dying on a cross.
What does it mean that some of Jesus’ followers waited with him through those three dark hours?
What does it mean for Jesus’ followers to again wait through the dark hours of this Good Friday, remembering Jesus’ own wait for death and life?
What does it mean to wait through all the dark days of our lives? To not know when redemption will come, but continuing to wait anyways?
What does your waiting look like today? Will you find him in the dark? Perhaps he shall find you.