Yesterday I exchanged tweets with the Met Office. Having been awoken by the radio news of a so called 'yellow' weather warning, I was concerned that I may not be able to safely leave the house with my wife and travel to the deepest outer reaches of Ikea on the Purley Way. I just wanted to check...and they kindly replied to say it was ok!
On Intro3 tonight we are looking at the day the sky went black in the middle of the day. Something more than a weather aberration which the forecasters missed. This was unprecedented before or since. Mark's gospel confirms 3 hours of darkness, a withdrawal of natural light which represented something hugely significant.
In the dark, on a hillside, a carpenter from Nazareth was dying on Roman cross. Jesus Christ, enduring awful physical pain, was slowly suffocating and crying out 'my God why have you forsaken me?'
This desperate cry of abandonment aimed at heaven should have had an answer, someone should have come running. Yet not only was heaven silent, but the darkening sky showed the angry judgement of God on His Son who had been perfect.
At the same time, in the heart of the city, at the Temple a curtain is torn. A heavy duty, thirty feet high divider between the parts of the temple we can walk in, and the holy parts that none of us can enter. Nothing can pass through, the curtain is a giant no entry sign to keep sinful people away from a perfect God.
Now as Jesus breathes his last, it is ripped from top to bottom. God has initiated something, even as it seems heaven will not respond to the heart breaking cry of the dying son. In a moment, history is changed, the curse is reversed, and God opens the door to us. The one who was inaccessible now stands behind an open door and welcomes us right in!
The no entry sign gone, the great separation between God and man which has stood since Adam ate the apple,is bridged. We are able to come once again into relationship with the perfect God who made us. Without guilt, without fear.
We’re following Jesus, into the darkness, and out into the light. Our sins have been forgiven. On the cross He took our punishment. He was put outside the city, so that we could come into the temple.
He took God’s judgement so that we would be free to come in. Jesus is rejected out there, so that I can be accepted in here. Jesus endures darkness and abandonment in order to lead us out of the fog of lostness and separation, back home to the Father who made us to live forever in His house.