“And it was the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.” (Luke 23:49)
The sixth hour would have been high noon. This is the pivotal point of all history. Right here during these 3 hours. Everything before and everything after has its focus on that moment.
Upon that cruel post, the Son of God suffered the agonies of all the sins of all men and women who ever had and ever would live. He became “sin for us”. He took all the penalties of all our sin upon Himself.
God took our punishment so that we would not have to face His holiness on our own. That means ALL of it. Not just a little bit, a partial bit, 99.999%. 100% of the wrath of God poured out upon Christ in that moment.
This moment could only be fulfilled by God Himself. Time stopped. Here is where the horrible pain of eternal punishment was unleashed upon Christ within that 3-hour period. This is something beyond space and time. A supernatural event that had been fixed in eternity past where the lamb was “slain before the foundation of the world”.
The Eternal God was the only One who could do this. He did not have to do this. His love was the reason. Not because we were lovely. Not because there ever was anything of value in us. While we were His enemies, He did this.
The Curtain Drawn Across the World
I believe this darkness covered the entire earth. There is no explanation for this. We can’t come up with some natural phenomenon or eclipse to explain it. This was God covering the earth, as if pulling a vast dark curtain over what was about to take place. To cover over a transaction that was too precious and terrible to be seen by unholy eyes.
All of history and all of Creation had prepared for this one moment. This was God forsaking His own Son for our benefit. This was Christ submitting Himself to this horror out of love for us. This was the Eternal Spirit enabling Him to offer Himself without spot to God. The perfect Lamb of God offered for the sins of the world.
An Eternity of Suffering
I do not know how the Lord endured this. I cannot stand a moment of flame without running to the cold water and the anesthetic ointment. How could the wondrous Son of God endure this for a minute; let alone an eternity for us?!
So, you see, we must take grace very seriously. People say we preach “cheap grace”. No. There was nothing cheap about it. But we can cheapen it if we do not realize how it is precious enough to fulfill the Law for us. Every demand the Law could ever have against us.
We preach grace as the absolute essential. We cannot live without it. We cannot live without abounding in it. We must have God’s unspeakable grace to even breathe.
We either choose our own works to present to God or we choose grace as the gift from God.
So, when the Bible condemns, quite angrily, those who would add any works to those that Christ completed, we must stand with the Bible. We must not allow our “tolerance” of false teaching to trample under foot the Son of God or to count the blood of His covenant an unworthy or unholy thing.
The sacrifice of Christ for us, His suffering, and His blood have purchased salvation for us. It is a perfect salvation. It is complete. It is finished. Nothing can be added to it. Nothing can be taken away.
God saw “the travail of his soul” and was satisfied. (Isaiah 53:11) We must also be satisfied with Christ. He is our salvation. He is our holiness. He is our Wisdom. He is our Sanctification.
Each of us chooses what we will do with Christ. There is no fence to sit on. You cannot be a diplomat. You cannot choose a prudent, middle of the road position.
Today, we each stand in the valley of decision.