There Was Darkness Over All the Land

(Special Eclipse Day Devotion)

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. (Matthew 27:45)

Struggling to climb the slow ascent to the top of the hill, Jesus was led out as a Lamb to be slaughtered. To add an extra bit of derision to an already humiliating experience, they placed Him under the weight of His cross. Knowing full well He had no strength left to carry it, the Roman soldiers must have jeered and sneered as again and again He fell under His burden. Forward. Forward. Always forward. Resolved to finish what He started, not even His own exhaustion would keep Him from the top of the Place of the Skull.

For their part, the soldiers and on-lookers were confident they were witnessing the demise of a faithless, run-of-the-mill felon. They were doing their duty to God and to king. One more offender off the streets. Certain no innocent man would be subject to such indulgent castigation, the witnesses watched as a cruel system carried out its justice. Every official and expert in town decreed His guilt; you’d have to be a fool to decry their collective judgment. So no one did.

Finally reaching the top of Golgotha, the soldiers finished their brutal work, one nail at a time. Tearing through flesh and tendons, Jesus was secured to His cross by those nails. Hoisting Him high for all to hail, Jesus was left for dead as the spectators enjoyed the show. Nothing left to do that Friday afternoon but wait. Jokes were made, belongings were doled out, and justice was served.

Then the sun went dark. Blacked out as if a divine pronouncement upon the evil transacted. Do you suppose an ounce of doubt may have found its way to the mind of the self-assured elites? Fear and trembling to the “innocent” bystanders. Certainly they questioned and second-guessed themselves, right? But what could they do? They’d already beaten Him so severely; He’d soon die anyways. He was already burrowed in all tight and snug to the cross. The cocksure chief priests, teachers of the law, Pharisees, Sadducees, and whoever else was around that day couldn’t admit their treachery. They simply couldn’t undo what they had done.

So darkness fell over the land for about three hours. Darkness, the only place where evil such as this could be executed. Darkness, like the place our sins always prefer. Darkness, tucked away and safely out of sight. Darkness, like the angry hearts of stone that watched.

Darkness that focused their eyes on the Savior. Darkness that taught truth.

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Darkness threatens to overtake our world and all its inhabitants today, but the Man on that cross won’t allow it. He will not allow the darkness that reigned in the land that day to reign in your life. Jesus brings light and life. Out of the blotted sun darkness of that afternoon, the Light of the World shines brightly for those with eyes of faith to see! Upon His cross, in His death, out of the darkness from the world around Him, salvation shines through in full brightness.

Lord Jesus, as we enjoy a spectacle of astronomical proportions today with the darkening of the sun, let your Light shine all the brighter in our world . . . in our lives. Amen.

Lord, Save Me!

But when [Peter] saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me”. (Matthew 14:30)

Sinking swiftly below his problems, Peter tried everything to overcome. His job wasn’t enough to maintain the life he desired, so he maxed out more than a few credit cards. Peter didn’t want to worry his wife, so he’d fake a smile and say it was all okay. Secretly he began to resent everything. His boss who didn’t pay him enough. His family who required so much of what little he made. The cost of milk that had clearly gone up in the past several months. Before he could manage to cap it off, his anger and bitterness overtook him. He was utterly unpleasant.

Then he lost his job. And then he lost it. He saw no hope. He refused to talk to his wife. She could no longer tolerate his demeanor and suggested separation. He retorted, “why don’t we just call it quits?” So they did. The house, Peter’s pride and joy, was foreclosed.

Peter hated it all. Nothing was going the way he wanted and there was nothing he could do. He began masking the emotions with alcohol, always needing more to keep the feelings at bay.

Peter was sinking and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. So he cried out in a last ditch effort to One who could. “Lord, save me!” Simple words spoken by a man drowning as a direct result of his rash decision to join Jesus on a walk across (not around, but across) the Sea of Galilee in the middle of a terrible storm. For awhile, Peter walked on top of water. Stop and imagine that for a moment! With waves crashing all around him, rain falling, thunder clapping, lightning striking, wind howling and his eyes on his Lord only, Peter walked on water! But then he realized where he was! He was in the middle of a raging storm and what he was doing wasn’t remotely possible. He removed his eyes from Jesus. He looked at the eleven fearful men back in the boat. He saw the storm. He became afraid. Overwhelmed. This was impossible.

Just as he thought it, he proved himself right. It isn’t possible to stand on top of water. It isn’t possible to face the raging storms in our lives on our own. Oh, sure we can put on a good show for awhile, but the more we try, the more we struggle and strive, the deeper under water we find ourselves.

The only hope for both of our Peters was for Jesus to reach out His hand, take hold of them, and drag them back to the safety of the boat. “Lord, save me!”

How often we try to tread the waters. How often we forget that Jesus is standing mere inches in front of us. Standing on top of the things overwhelming us, ready to reach out His nail-marked hand and save us. “Lord, save me!” A holy refrain from the lips of His faithful. May it be also upon your lips.

Lord, save me! Amen.