|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
27:45-50 During the three hours which the darkness continued, Jesus was in agony, wrestling with the powers of darkness, and suffering his Father's displeasure against the sin of man, for which he was now making his soul an offering. Never were there three such hours since the day God created man upon the earth, never such a dark and awful scene; it was the turning point of that great affair, man's redemption and salvation. Jesus uttered a complaint from Ps 22:1. Hereby he teaches of what use the word of God is to direct us in prayer, and recommends the use of Scripture expressions in prayer. The believer may have tasted some drops of bitterness, but he can only form a very feeble idea of the greatness of Christ's sufferings. Yet, hence he learns something of the Saviour's love to sinners; hence he gets deeper conviction of the vileness and evil of sin, and of what he owes to Christ, who delivers him from the wrath to come. His enemies wickedly ridiculed his complaint. Many of the reproaches cast upon the word of God and the people of God, arise, as here, from gross mistakes. Christ, just before he expired, spake in his full strength, to show that his life was not forced from him, but was freely delivered into his Father's hands. He had strength to bid defiance to the powers of death: and to show that by the eternal Spirit he offered himself, being the Priest as well as the Sacrifice, he cried with a loud voice. Then he yielded up the ghost. The Son of God upon the cross, did die by the violence of the pain he was put to. His soul was separated from his body, and so his body was left really and truly dead. It was certain that Christ did die, for it was needful that he should die. He had undertaken to make himself an offering for sin, and he did it when he willingly gave up his life.
Verses 45-50. - Supernatural darkness. Last words, and death of Jesus. (Mark 15:33-37; Luke 23:44-46; John 19:28-30.) Verse 45. - The sixth hour; i.e. noon. Christ was crucified about 9 o'clock a.m., the hour of the morning sacrifice; he had therefore by this time been hanging three hours on the cross. His agonies, his sufferings mental and spiritual, were at their height. There was darkness over all the land (ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν). The historical accuracy of this darkness there is no more reason to doubt than there is to doubt the death of Christ itself: The great fact and its details stand on the same basis. How the phenomenon was produced we know not. That it could not be an ordinary eclipse is certain, as the moon was then full, it being the Paschal time, and the darkness thus produced would have lasted but a few minutes. Nor had it any connection with the subsequent earthquake (ver. 51), as some unscientific exegetes have supposed. On such occasions a thickness of the atmosphere has been noticed, but such an occurrence could never have been described in the words used by the synoptists; and. the earthquake itself was no ordinary event, and took place in no ordinary manner. We cannot doubt that the darkness was supernatural, conveying a solemn lesson to all who beheld it. When we consider what was being done on Calvary, who it was that was dying there, what was the object of his Passion, what was the infinite and unspeakable effect of the sacrifice there offered, is it wonderful that the Divine Architect controlled Nature to sympathize with her Creator, that as a supernatural effulgence heralded the Saviour's birth, a supernatural darkness should shroud his death? We are in the region of the Divine. What we have learned to regard as natural laws (but which really are only our formulary for expressing our experience of past uniformity) were superseded for the time by the interference of the Lawgiver; he used the material to enforce the spiritual being the Lord of both. Whether the darkness extended beyond Judaea unto all that part of the earth which was then illumined by the light of the sun, we cannot tell. Some of the Fathers refer to it as if it was universal. A supposed allusion was made by Phlegon, a writer of the second century, whose work, called 'Annals of the Olympiads,' is not extant, but is quoted by Julius Africanus and Eusebius (see Wordsworth, in loc.); but it seems certain that Phlegon is speaking of an astronomical eclipse which occurred in the ordinary course of nature. Tertullian states that a notice of this darkness was to be found in the archives of Rome ('Apol.,' 21.); but we have no further information on this point. There are some other uncertain references, as that of Dionysius the Areopagite, who is related to have said on the sudden obscuration, "Either the God of nature is suffering, or the machinery of the world is being dissolved;" but none of these will stand the test of criticism; and perhaps it is safer to determine that Gentile notices of the phenomenon are not forthcoming, because the darkness was confined to Palestine. It had, doubtless, a doctrinal and typical significance. Chrysostom considers it a token of God's anger at the crime of the Jews in crucifying Jesus; others see in it an emblem of the withdrawal of the light of God's presence from this wicked land. It was, in Iced, to all who would receive it, a sign of some awful event in the spiritual world of unspeakable consequence to the children of men. The ninth hour. Three o'clock p.m., about the time of the evening sacrifice.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Now from the sixth hour,.... Which was twelve o'clock at noon,
there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour; till three o'clock in the afternoon, the time the Jews call "between the two evenings"; and which they say (c) is "from the sixth hour, and onwards". Luke says, the sun was darkened, Luke 23:45. This darkness was a preternatural eclipse of the sun; for it was at the time when the moon was in the full, as appears from its being at the time of the passover; which was on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan, the Jews beginning their months from the new moon: and moreover, it was over all the land, or earth, as the word may be rendered; and the Ethiopic version renders it, "the whole world was dark"; at least it reached to the whole Roman empire, or the greatest part of it; though some think only the land of Judea, or Palestine, is intended: but it is evident, that it is taken notice of, and recorded by Heathen historians and chronologers, as by Phlegon, and others, referred to by Eusebius (d). The Roman archives are appealed unto for the truth of it by Tertullian (e); and it is asserted by Suidas, that Dionysius the Areopagite, then an Heathen, saw it in Egypt; and said,
"either the, divine being suffers, or suffers with him that suffers, or the frame of the world is dissolving.
Add to this the continuance of it, that it lasted three hours; whereas a natural eclipse of the sun is but of a short duration; see Amos 8:9. The Jews (g) have a notion, that in the times of the Messiah
"the sun shall be darkened, , "in the middle of the day", (as this was,) as that day was darkened when the sanctuary was destroyed.
Yea, they speak (h) of a darkness that shall continue a long time: their words are these:
"the king Messiah shall be made known in all the world, and all the kings shall be stirred up to join together to make war with him; and many of the profligate Jews shall be turned to them, and shall go with them, to make war against the king Messiah; so , "all the world shall be darkened" fifteen days, and many of the people of Israel shall die in that darkness.
This darkness that was over the earth at the time of Christ's sufferings, was, no doubt, an addition to them; the sun, as it were, hiding its face, and refusing to afford its comforting light and heat to him; and yet might be in detestation of the heinousness of the sin the Jews were committing, and as expressive of the divine anger and resentment; for God's purposes and decrees, and the end he had in view, did not excuse, nor extenuate their wickedness; as it shows also their wretched stupidity, not to be awakened and convinced by the amazing darkness, with other things attending it, which made no impression on them; though it did on the Roman centurion, who concluded Christ must be the Son of God. It was an emblem of the judicial blindness and darkness of the Jewish nation; and signified, that now was the hour and power of darkness, or the time for the prince of darkness, with his principalities and powers, to exert himself; and was a representation of that darkness that was now on the soul of Christ, expressed in the following verse; as well as of the eclipse of him, the sun of righteousness, of the glory of his person, both by his incarnation, and by his sufferings,
(c) T. Hieros Pesachim, fol. 31. 3.((d) In Chronicis. (e) Apolog. c. 21. (g) Zohar in Exod. fol. 4. 1.((h) Ib. fol. 3, 4.
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