What do the three hours
of darkness at noon day, the torn veil in the Temple
at Jerusalem, the earthquake that rocked Calvary,
and the dead saints who were raised from the dead
all have in common?
These were miracles at
Calvary the very moment Christ died on the cross.
The timing of these strange events gives them
credence that they were not natural phenomena.
The miracles accompanying
Jesus' death give evidence to the reality of the
death of Jesus Christ.
The Calvary miracles all
have a direct connection with the death of Christ.
Three hours of darkness
over the land at the death of Jesus (Mark 15:33-34;
Matt. 27:45; Luke 23:44-47)
"Now from the sixth hour
darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth
hour" (Matt. 27:45, NASB95). All Scripture
references are from the New American Standard Bible
Sudden darkness at
Jesus had already been
suffering on the cross for three hours (9 a.m. until
noon) when a darkness came "over all the earth" at
noon time. All of a sudden the darkness closed off
the scene at Calvary and seems to have departed just
as suddenly. It extended far beyond Calvary and
Jerusalem and lasted for three hours. This was not a
simple phenomenon, but a supernatural manifestation
in nature. This darkness over Palestine and
neighboring regions was not an eclipse of the sun
because this was the time of the full moon of the
Passover week, and it lasted for more than a few
minutes. This was a three hour supernatural darkness
that covered the whole land from noon until 3 p.m.
It was an intense darkness, a concentration of force
like the three days of darkness in Egypt. This
darkness was as if The LORD God in His Sovereign
power drew His veil over His Mercy Seat to prevent
profane eyes to look upon His atoning sacrifice.
During those three hours
we see only darkness, and hear only silence. The
suffering Servant of Yahweh was "wounded for our
transgressions." The Lamb of God was dying for the
sin of the world. God was making atonement for our
The church father,
Tertullian said to some heathen, "at the moment of
Christ's death, the light departed from the sun, and
the land was darkened at noonday, which wonder is
related in your own annals and is preserved in your
archives to this day."
The meaning of the
darkness at Calvary
John W. Shepherd writes:
"When the darkness, like a heavy curtain, fell over
the scene of the tragedy, silence reigned and a
feeling of awe and horror crept over all. For the
three portentous hours of darkness Jesus hung on the
cross in silence. It was doubtless a period during
which He suffered extreme anguish of spirit and
physical pain. The increasing nameless agonies of
the crucifixion were deepening more and more with
every moment into death. He was forsaken almost
wholly by men and felt the sense of a desolate
isolation and loneliness" (The Christ of the
Gospels, p. 601).
Very near the close of
the three hours of darkness, feeling God-forsaken,
Jesus cried out in the anguish of His soul "words
which have echoed through eternity and reverberated
down the centuries of time: 'Eloi, Eloi, lama
sabachthani?' which interpreted from the Aramaic is:
'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' It was
a bitter cry rung from His lips by suffering far
greater than that of the mere physical pain of
crucifixion. . . Of course the Son was never more
well-pleasing to the Father than in this hour when
He was voluntarily laying down His life for the
redemption of the human race. . ." (ibid, p.
John Broadus said, "It
must have been as our substitute, because He 'bare
our sins in His own body on the tree,' that He was
In those terrible moments
on the cross the full fury of the wrath of God was
upon Him. "He felt the way a lost sinner feels,
without Himself having sinned," says Shepherd. With
these words from that terrible darkness "the
suffering of Christ for a lost world" came to a
climax. "Here He drank to the dregs the cup of
sorrow, grief, and pain on our behalf." Shepherd
says, "Christ gave Himself a 'ransom for many.' Him
who knew no sin God 'made sin' for us. On the cross
Christ became a 'curse for us' and so redeemed us
from the curse of the law. We are 'redeemed by the
precious blood of Christ' shed on the Calvary. He
gave himself a 'ransom for all'" (p. 602).
Leon Morris observes,
"Darkness is associated with judgment in several
places in Scripture (Isa. 5:30; 13:10-11; Joel
3:14-15, etc.), and it appears that we are to
understand it here as pointing to God's judgment on
sin that is link with the cross" (Matthew, p.
In that darkness at
Calvary we see Isaiah 53 fulfilled. No eyes of
depraved man saw the mysteries of that suffering.
Our redemption is done, completed, finished!
"Surely our griefs He
Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we
ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and
afflicted. But He was pierced through for our
transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And
by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep
have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own
way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him" (Isaiah 53:4-6).
The apostle Paul gives
the best commentary of what happened at Calvary in
that darkness. "He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ] who
knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we
might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2
When Jesus cried, "It is
finished!' and gave up His spirit another veil was
Torn Veil in the Temple
torn at the moment of death of Jesus (Mark 15:38;
Matt. 27:51; Luke 23:44-45)
These signs occurred
simultaneously the moment Jesus "gave up His spirit"
The veil separated
depraved man from a holy God
"And the veil of the
temple was torn in two from top to bottom" (Mark
15:38). This was the veil that separated the Holy of
Holies or Most Holy Place from the Holy Place in the
Temple in Jerusalem. Into the Most Holy Place no man
ever ventured except the high priest on day Day of
Atonement. Once a year the high priest lifted a
corner of this heavy curtain in entered into the
Holy of Holies, carrying sacrificial blood which he
sprinkled on the mercy seat, and made supplication
for the people of Israel. The thick veil separated
depraved humanity from the holiness of God. It hung
there solemnly declaring to the world, "Thus far,
but no further."
The Talmud informs
us that the heavy veil was sixty feet long and
thirty feet wide and the thickness of the palm of a
man's hand or four inches, and was composed of 72
squares woven of thick fabric. Therefore, no man's
hand tore it down; it did not fall apart from
natural decay; there was no rent in it. It was
as if the great hand of the LORD God ripped it
apart. It was torn in two equal pieces, down the
middle, "from the top to the bottom."
When did the tearing of
the veil take place? It was torn in two pieces at
the precise moment Jesus died on the cross. At the
precise moment that Jesus died the veil was torn
from top to bottom. Matthew says, "And Jesus cried
out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His
spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn
in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook; and
the rocks were split" (Matt. 27:50-51).
This was the time of the
evening sacrifice in the Temple. At the very moment
Jesus died on the cross as the Lamb of God, the
priests were in the Holy Place, in front of the
veil, engaged in their priestly duties. God meant
for the priests to see His hand upon the events. One
of the results of the rending of the veil was "a
great many of the priests were becoming obedient to
the faith" (Acts 6:7b).
Jesus Christ is the
only way into presence of a holy God
Access to the presence of
the LORD God was now available to all who believe on
the Lord Jesus Christ. The presence of the LORD God
was thrown open to all mankind. Our sin problem had
been resolved by the payment of the price of our
redemption. Sin had been dealt with by our real High
Priest who had entered into the true Holy of Holies
and made the perfect sacrifice for sin. Jesus
removed every possible obstruction and we now have
an intimate fellowship with a holy God.
since we have confidence to enter the holy place by
the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He
inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His
flesh" (Hebrews 10:19-20). The way is now open for
us to boldly enter into the presence of God.
Indeed, the apostle Paul
says it is through Jesus Christ that "we both have
our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you
are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are
fellow-citizens with the saints, and are of God's
household" (Ephesians 2:18-19). We have "access" to
the Father. We have the freedom to enter through the
assistance or favor of another person, Jesus Christ.
The word is used for introducing a person into the
presence of a king, or where a ship docs. We have
the haven of God's grace. This is what Jesus did for
us when He torn the veil in to and opened the
presence of God open to all who will call upon His
name believing Jesus died for their sins.
John Broadus writes,
"Christ, our high priest, has entered the true Holy
of Holies in heaven, offering once for all the
all-sufficient atoning sacrifice of His own blood
(Heb. 9:11-28); and now in His name we may look
without dread upon the very throne of God, and come
with boldness to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16;
10:19)" (Matthew, p. 576).
The earthquake at the
moment of Jesus' death (Matt. 27:51)
Because of the timing of
the earthquake it is evident that God made known His
presence at Calvary. The earthquake was an act of
"And Jesus cried out
again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two
from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the
rocks were split" (Matthew 27:50-51). His
death followed immediately after His victory shout
and His giving up His spirit. Therefore, the violent
shaking of the earth took place at the very moment
of Christ's death.
The Roman centurion
witnessed the crucifixion, the moment of death of
Christ, the powerful earthquake, and declared,
"Truly this man was the Son of God" (Matt. 27:54;
Mark 15:39-40; Luke 23:47).
This mighty shaking of
the earth opened up many tombs, but not every tomb.
Bodies of the saints were
raised from the dead at the death of Jesus (Matt.
The violent shaking of
the earth opened up select graves, the graves of the
saints. Christ's death opened the graves. His death
destroyed the power of death by His death (1 Cor.
15:50-57). The penalty of sin no longer has a grip
on the redeemed.
"And behold, the veil of
the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and
the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs
were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had
fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the
tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy
city and appeared to many" (Matthew 27:51-53).
Dead believers in
Christ who were buried near Calvary
At the earthquake the
graves were opened and saints who had been buried
near Calvary arose and after the resurrection of
Jesus appeared to many people in Jerusalem.
The rocks were split open
instantly when Christ died, and the rock-hewn tombs
of the believers were shaken open. These believers
in Christ were raised from the dead and three days
later they went into Jerusalem as testimony to the
power of Christ's resurrection! Saints of Jesus who
had believed on Him and died before His crucifixion
were raised from the dead and appeared unto many of
the disciples after the resurrection of Christ.
These were believers in
Jesus Christ who had died before His crucifixion and
were raised from the dead. After His resurrection
they came out of the tombs and entered the city of
Jerusalem and appeared to many. These saints were
raised at the time of Jesus' death, but did not
appear in the city of Jerusalem until after the
resurrection of Christ.
Dead saints raised
from the dead at death of Christ
We are not told about the
state of these raised bodies. They were probably
revived natural bodies, and not their final
resurrection bodies which will take place at the
second coming of Christ.
The open graves were a
demonstration of the power of God before a watching
world. The graves were exposed on Friday afternoon
until Sunday morning. No one would have been
permitted to close these tombs on Sabbath and the
Ever since the
resurrection and ascension of Christ all believers
ascend to the presence of the LORD God awaiting the
great resurrection day when they will be reunited
with their resurrection bodies.
Here is hope for every
believer in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "Truly, truly,
I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him
who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come
into judgment, but has passed out of death into
life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming
and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the
Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just
as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave
to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave
Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the
Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is
coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear
His voice, and will come forth; those who did the
good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who
committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of
judgment" (John 5:24-29).
principles and practical applications on the death
1. There is clear
historical evidence that Jesus Christ died on the
cross and rose from the dead.
This is the greatest
message in the history of the world. It is Good News
for the condemned sinner who is under the judgment
of a holy God.
2. The miracles at
Calvary are not natural phenomena.
The miracles at Calvary
demonstrate the sovereign hand of God over the life
and death of Jesus Christ.
3. The greatest miracle
is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
How do we know that Jesus
Christ is the unique Son of God? Because God raised
Him from the dead. How do we know that we are saved
by simple faith in Christ? The resurrection of Jesus
Christ gives us assurance that God accepted the
atoning death of Jesus for our sins.
4. The death and
resurrection of Jesus Christ saves.
"If you confess with your
mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that
God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for
with the heart a person believes, resulting in
righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses,
resulting in salvation" (Romans 10:9-10).
Title: Miracles at
Calvary in the Death of Jesus Christ
Series: Life of