The Darkest Day
Luke 23:44-46 NIV
44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”When he had said this, he breathed his last.
The cross has been on my mind a lot here lately. And it's not just because it's Easter weekend. I've had some questions for God about some things. He keeps pointing me back to the cross. I know the answers are there, but do I really want to look? One of the things I've been wondering about is why it's so hard to talk about what happened there. We can talk about church. About religion. About politics. We love those feel-good messages where we can pat ourselves on the back about how good we're doing. But it seems more and more we don't know what to do about the cross. We trot out some sanitized version of it for Easter, but the cross is anything but sanitized. It's bloody. Messy. Beautiful. The cross is a battleground. It is where heaven met hell. It is where Jesus faced his darkest day.
I have often wondered about those moments before the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane. I have always disliked that picture of Jesus in the garden in those big old family Bibles. He has that serene look on his face looking like he belongs in some kind of shampoo commercial. Luke 22:44 says "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." Anguish. The Romans were famous for their brutality and their cruelty. He knew the torture that awaited his body. But would that be anything compared to the moment that he bore the weight of our sin? He went to the cross anyway. His body beaten and torn. The moment came. The moment when he felt every ounce of man's depravity. The vileness. The wretchedness. Your sin. My sin. Generations of sin. Have we ever been known more intimately than in that moment? There is no hiding our sin at the cross. Our darkest places exposed. There are no masks, no pretense of piety, no false righteousness. Is that why we have trouble talking about it? Does it leave us too vulnerable? As our sin covered the Son, the Father had to look away. Then came the darkness.
I do a lot of writing about darkness. Sadly, I have spent a lot of time there. A few years ago, after one of those dark phases, I found myself lying in bed one night, praying to die. My darkest moment. I was in the midst of trying to rebuild a life that I had so casually thrown away. I was overwhelmed with guilt and shame. Suffocating in my past. I found Jesus there in the dark that night. Waiting. So many years before I had trusted him as Savior. And in my darkest moment, I knew he was there to rescue me. He wasn't afraid of the dark. He had already defeated it!
There will always be dark days. Parents will lose children. Spouses will leave. There will be battles with addictions. Terminal illness. There will be job losses and bankruptcies. There may even be days you pray to die.
On those days, remember the cross. Remember the empty tomb. It was from the darkness that Jesus emerged victorious! Salvation. Redemption. Restoration. There at the cross. There is no place too far, no sin too great, no hurt too deep, or a day too dark for the cross. Look. Jesus is there. Arms open wide. You don't have to face the darkness alone.
Last year, I heard the song Reckless Love for the first time. I was wrecked. Never have I heard such a more moving truth of God's unabashed pursuit of us. I hope you give this a listen.