THE HOURS OF DARKNESS
A Good Friday Reflection
We read in Mark’s account of the gospel that Jesus was crucified at 9am (Mk 15:25); and, all four gospel accounts report the day’s events start “early in the morning.”
Jesus has been: falsely accused; lied about; slapped; spit upon; beaten; mocked and humiliated; and tortured, including a Roman scourging.
He has now been crucified for three hours. Then we read, “from noon until three the whole earth was covered in darkness” [Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44]
You are invited today to pause at least once each hour from noon to three, when “Jesus breathed his last,” to reflect upon the passion (suffering) of our Lord.
*All scripture is from the Common English Bible*
Isaiah 53 ; Luke 23:34-43
1Who can believe what we have heard, and for whose sake has the Lord’s arm been revealed?
2 He grew up like a young plant before us, like a root from dry ground. He possessed no splendid form for us to see, no desirable appearance. 3 He was despised and avoided by others; a man who suffered, who knew sickness well. Like someone from whom people hid their faces, he was despised, and we didn’t think about him. 4 It was certainly our sickness that he carried, and our sufferings that he bore, but we thought him afflicted, struck down by God and tormented. 5 He was pierced because of our rebellions and crushed because of our crimes. He bore the punishment that made us whole; by his wounds we are healed. 6 Like sheep we had all wandered away, each going its own way, but the Lord let fall on him all our crimes. 7 He was oppressed and tormented, but didn’t open his mouth. Like a lamb being brought to slaughter, like a ewe silent before her shearers, he didn’t open his mouth. 8 Due to an unjust ruling he was taken away, and his fate—who will think about it? He was eliminated from the land of the living, struck dead because of my people’s rebellion. 9 His grave was among the wicked, his tomb with evildoers, though he had done no violence, and had spoken nothing false. 10 But the Lord wanted to crush him and to make him suffer.
If his life is offered as restitution, he will see his offspring; he will enjoy long life. The Lord’s plans will come to fruition through him. 11 After his deep anguish he will see light, and he will be satisfied. Through his knowledge, the righteous one, my servant, will make many righteous, and will bear their guilt. 12 Therefore, I will give him a share with the great, and he will divide the spoil with the strong, in return for exposing his life to death and being numbered with rebels, though he carried the sin of many and pleaded on behalf of those who rebelled.
34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing. 35 The people were standing around watching, but the leaders sneered at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he really is the Christ sent from God, the chosen one.” 36 The soldiers also mocked him. They came up to him, offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you really are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 Above his head was a notice of the formal charge against him. It read “This is the king of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? 41 We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.”
Matthew 27:39-43; Psalm 22
39 Those who were walking by insulted Jesus, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “So you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, were you? Save yourself! If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross.” 41 In the same way, the chief priests, along with the legal experts and the elders, were making fun of him, saying, 42 “He saved others, but he can’t save himself. He’s the king of Israel, so let him come down from the cross now. Then we’ll believe in him. 43 He trusts in God, so let God deliver him now if he wants to. He said, ‘I’m God’s Son.’”
1My God! My God, why have you left me all alone? Why are you so far from saving me— so far from my anguished groans? 2 My God, I cry out during the day, but you don’t answer; even at nighttime I don’t stop. 3 You are the holy one, enthroned. You are Israel’s praise. 4 Our ancestors trusted you—they trusted you and you rescued them; 5 they cried out to you and they were saved; they trusted you and they weren’t ashamed. 6 But I’m just a worm, less than human; insulted by one person, despised by another. 7 All who see me make fun of me—they gape, shaking their heads: 8 “He committed himself to the Lord, so let God rescue him; let God deliver him because God likes him so much.” 9 But you are the one who pulled me from the womb, placing me safely at my mother’s breasts. 10 I was thrown on you from birth; you’ve been my God since I was in my mother’s womb. 11 Please don’t be far from me, because trouble is near and there’s no one to help. 12 Many bulls surround me; mighty bulls from Bashan encircle me. 13 They open their mouths at me like a lion ripping and roaring! 14 I’m poured out like water. All my bones have fallen apart. My heart is like wax; it melts inside me. 15 My strength is dried up like a piece of broken pottery.
My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you’ve set me down in the dirt of death. 16 Dogs surround me; a pack of evil people circle me like a lion— oh, my poor hands and feet! 17 I can count all my bones! Meanwhile, they just stare at me, watching me. 18 They divvy up my garments among themselves; they cast lots for my clothes. 19 But you, Lord! Don’t be far away! You are my strength! Come quick and help me! 20 Deliver me from the sword. Deliver my life from the power of the dog. 21 Save me from the mouth of the lion. From the horns of the wild oxen you have answered me! 22 I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; I will praise you in the very center of the congregation! 23 All of you who revere the Lord—praise him! All of you who are Jacob’s descendants—honor him! All of you who are all Israel’s offspring—stand in awe of him! 24 Because he didn’t despise or detest the suffering of the one who suffered— he didn’t hide his face from me. No, he listened when I cried out to him for help. 25 I offer praise in the great congregation because of you; I will fulfill my promises in the presence of those who honor God. 26 Let all those who are suffering eat and be full! Let all who seek the Lord praise him! I pray your hearts live forever! 27 Every part of the earth will remember and come back to the Lord; every family among all the nations will worship you. 28 Because the right to rule belongs to the Lord, he rules all nations. 29 Indeed, all the earth’s powerful will worship him; all who are descending to the dust will kneel before him; my being also lives for him. 30 Future descendants will serve him; generations to come will be told about my Lord. 31 They will proclaim God’s righteousness to those not yet born, telling them what God has done.
Luke 23:46; Mark 15:38-46; Hebrews 10:16-24 53
46 Crying out in a loud voice, Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my life.” After he said this, he breathed for the last time.
38 The curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who stood facing Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “This man was certainly God’s Son.” 40 Some women were watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James (the younger one) and Joses, and Salome. 41 When Jesus was in Galilee, these women had followed and supported him, along with many other women who had come to Jerusalem with him. 42 Since it was late in the afternoon on Preparation Day, just before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph from Arimathea dared to approach Pilate and ask for Jesus’ body. (Joseph was a prominent council member who also eagerly anticipated the coming of God’s kingdom.) 44 Pilate wondered if Jesus was already dead. He called the centurion and asked him whether Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that Jesus was dead, Pilate gave the dead body to Joseph. 46 He bought a linen cloth, took Jesus down from the cross, wrapped him in the cloth, and laid him in a tomb that had been carved out of rock. He rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb.
16 This is the covenant that I will make with them. After these days, says the Lord, I will place my laws in their hearts and write them on their minds. 17 And I won’t remember their sins and their lawless behavior anymore. 18 When there is forgiveness for these things, there is no longer an offering for sin. 19 Brothers and sisters, we have confidence that we can enter the holy of holies by means of Jesus’ blood, 20 through a new and living way that he opened up for us through the curtain, which is his body, 21 and we have a great high priest over God’s house. 22 Therefore, let’s draw near with a genuine heart with the certainty that our faith gives us, since our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies are washed with pure water. 23 Let’s hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made the promises is reliable. 24 And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds. 25 Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.