Three miracles took place at Calvary having to do with the penetration of the natural realm by the supernatural: (1) a great darkness, (2) the veil of the temple that was torn in two, and (3) a great earthquake that shook Jerusalem. (See Matthew 27:45-54).
The Miracle of the Great Darkness
The Bible records the darkness as globe-encompassing (Luke 23:44) and that it took place for three hours, from noon until three o’clock. But it doesn’t record any meteorological explanation such as an eclipse or cloud covering. It seems to have emanated from the realm of the spirit. It doesn’t say the sun came out at three o’clock, but it says the darkness was over then, so we presume that the natural light shone again.
There’s no way to prove this, but I’d like to suggest three possibilities for what occasioned that darkness:
First, the embarrassment of creation itself
There is an inherent intelligence in all creation (Luke 19:39). In John 1 it says that all creation except for man received its Creator when Christ came. Creation seems to have a capacity in its own right [though in a completely different order from man] to respond to the Master. Jesus says to the wind and waves, “Be still,” and they do. Not because they have a conscious capacity to respond, but because there is something within the created order that does.
I submit to you that on that day, a darkness came over the scene because creation itself was shamed by what a more noble order of creation—man—was allowing to happen.
Second, there was a concentration of sin
It seems highly probable wrapped up in that darkness is the concentration of sin taking place at Calvary. You’ve probably walked into places where you could sense and perceive the darkness of sin.
I submit the possibility that the darkness which covered the earth at that time was based on the fact that Jesus was not simply dying for the sins that were being committed around Him. As grotesque as the sin of the crucifixion was, Jesus was receiving into Himself all the sins of all human history. All sin of past and future is converging on the shoulders of the Son of God, whom the Bible says was, at the Cross, made to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). It’s possible that the concentration of sin happening that moment in the invisible realm was intruding itself into the visible realm, so that darkness came over the face of the earth.
Third, the presence of demons
Demon principalities and powers of this world were certain that Calvary was their great moment of attainment. They though they’d finally caught God in His own point of weakness—that He loves too greatly, and now He’s finally put Himself in a situation from which He’ll never be able to escape. Satan was so convinced of his triumph that he summoned the hosts of hell to come view this moment and gleefully rejoice in it. The Adversary thought he had the upper hand.
But the Bible says had they known what they were doing, they would not have crucified the Lord. It is not beyond reason or scriptural revelation to suggest that the darkness was because there was such a concentration of demon powers at that time that in the invisible realm, that darkness intruded itself into the visible realm.
Be it any of these things, the Bible says that a miracle was manifested at Calvary, an uncommon, unearthly darkness enveloped the earth. It was a moment never to be forgotten.
The Miracle of the Torn Veil
Like the veil in the temple, God’s holiness, confronted by man’s sinfulness, meets a hopeless impasse unless a Redeemer comes. The temple veil was penetrated once a year by only one man, the high priest, who offered the blood of an animal sacrifice on behalf of the nation. On the basis of that annual appearance, there was a guarantee from God for a continuation of the covenant for the ensuing year, and a reminder that one day a Redeemer would come to fulfill what was being taught prophetically, and then the sacrifice would no longer be necessary.
Just as surely as that veil was penetrated once a year by someone who might, on behalf of others, stand in the inner sanctuary of the presence of God, Scripture says that through the veil of Christ’s flesh, there was tearing open in his side by a Roman spear so that we might see the heart of God, and might approach and enter into relationship with Him. No longer would it be necesary for anyone to substitute for you coming into His presence.
Now, anyone can come anytime and ask anything in the presence of God. It’s no longer a case of once a year for a select representative; it’s the case of each one of us being able to come into the presence of the Lord. The torn veil was God’s miracle to make the conclusive declaration of what was possible now.
How did the veil get torn?
The veil, which was large and heavy, was torn from the top to the bottom (Matthew 27:51). No one person would have been able to do it, nor would anyone have been inclined as it would have been sacrilege. God wanted it understood that the barrier was vanquished forever because it was something HE did. The torn veil makes the statement that He accepts the sacrifice for all time. With that torn veil a welcome is issued by the Lord to come into His presence. Your own guilt and condemnation need not hold you at a distance. Whosoever will may come.
The veil was torn so that man would not only have a witness of the Holy Spirit inside him that says God loves you, but an outside visible sign that says, It’s settled; you can enter into relationship with the living God.
The Miracle of the Earthquake
The Bible says at the conclusion of those three hours of darkness two things took place: Jesus died, and there was an earthquake (John 19:30). I suggest that simultaneously there was an earthquake and a release from the darkness. As fearsome as the earthquake may have been, the fear was overcome by the fact that light began to shine around them.
There is one person praising—the centurion supervising the crucifixion (Matthew 27:54). Those who loved the Lord are stunned by what they see as defeat. But in the instant that Jesus dies, the ultimate and final price is paid. Romans 8 says all creation stands in anticipation that the fullest revelation of God’s purpose will be revealed through His Son. I submit to you that while there was nobody at Calvary to praise God for this death, it is accomplishing the fullest intentions of the Father for the maximum release of mankind, and the end of futility for overall creation. Praise broke out from creation in the form of an earthquake. All the powers of the kingdom of hell had been toppled in that moment.
Where was Jesus in that instant when He gave up the ghost?
Jesus was not mystically hovering around. The Bible tells us that He immediately descended into hell itself to make an announcement that the powers of hell and death have been broken through His death and His Cross. In that moment, all the demons of hell that overshadowed Calvary—delighted with glee that they were winning—were suddenly drawn to a point of accounting in hell and in that instant, they moved from where they had cast darkness over the Cross, and the sunlight burst forth.
Taking the keys of death and hell from the adversary, the Bible says Jesus stepped into another region of the underworld and announced to all the faithful dead—to Abraham, David and Job—that the anticipated day of release had come. Jesus tells them to pack up because We’re leaving this place and going home to Glory.
It’s no wonder the sun broke out and the earth shook because what was going on in the invisible world was so profound that physical creation could not be mute before it.
This Good Friday, let us—
• Come with an appropriate sense of awe that the darkness imposes upon us.
• Come with an appropriate sense of the accomplishment of the Cross that the torn veil says to us.
• Come with a sense of that conclusive earth-shaking announcement that the earthquake made: This is the Son of God and He has won, and no lips can remain silent.
Lift your voice in praise; let there be praises among us for what Jesus has done for us!
Copyright 2015 by Jack W. Hayford, Jack Hayford Ministries. All rights reserved