1. The Darkness


When we think about what God was doing while Jesus hung on the cross, it shouldn’t really surprise us that He provided some visible miracles for those who were onlookers.

Whilst Christ hung on the cross, there were four miraculous events which occurred.

1. The 3 hours of darkness, Matthew 27:45 / Luke 23:44-45.

2. The veil of the temple was torn into two, Matthew 27:50-51 / Mark 15:37-38.

3. An earthquake, Matthew 27:50-52.

4. The graves opening up and dead people being raised to life, Matthew 27:50-53.

In this study, we will look at the significance of the 3 hours of darkness.

‘From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.’ Matthew 27:45

‘It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining.’ Luke 23:44-45

Both Matthew and Luke tell us that Jesus has been on the cross for three hours. It’s now noon, which means the sun would have been high in the sky. All of a sudden, complete darkness falls over the entire land for three hours. Luke tells us that the sun stopped shining altogether.

The word land is the Greek word, ‘ge’ which can mean a region which would imply all of Palestine but it can also mean the whole earth. So whether this darkness fell over Palestine only or the whole earth is really difficult to say.

The word darkness is the Greek word, ‘skotizo’ and it carries with it the idea of sudden darkness. This wasn’t something which happened over a period of time, it happened suddenly.

We can almost picture the silence as every animal and every person were wondering what was happening. We can almost imagine people speaking with each other, trying to understand exactly what was going on, 1 Samuel 2:9 / Job 5:13-14.

Who Or What Caused The Darkness?

There are a few people who try to come up with answers as to where the darkness originated but for this study, we’ll only look at four possibilities.

A Natural Phenomenon

1. There are those who believe that the darkness was caused by a simple natural phenomenon.

They believe it was probably just an earthquake or some kind of volcanic eruption, after all, Matthew records there was an earthquake around this time, Matthew 27:54.

Although a volcano erupting may indeed cause thick dust to fill the air, both Matthew and Luke record that the entire land of Palestine was in complete darkness but the darkness suddenly left after three hours.

Also, the Bible doesn’t mention any other earthquake happening before the darkness came, but it does record an earthquake happening afterwards when an angel rolled away the stone from Jesus’ grave, Matthew 28:2.

An Eclipse

2. There are those who believe that the darkness was caused by an eclipse of the sun.

Many of us have witnessed eclipses in our lives and we know that they don’t happen suddenly. The darkness here happened suddenly and note also that the darkness was all over the land for three hours. A normal eclipse only ever lasts for a few moments.

Dust Storm Or Dark Clouds

3. There are those who believe that the darkness was caused by some kind of dust storm or cloud cover.

Most people who have witnessed dust storms and thick black cloud coverings tell us that they can be spotted coming on the horizon, whereas the darkness recorded by Matthew and Luke came suddenly.


4. The only possible reason the darkness came, was because it was God who caused it.

It was God who created light in the beginning, Genesis 1:3, and it’s God who removes the light, Matthew 27:45 / Luke 23:44.

We only have to cast our minds back to the ninth plague which God hit Egypt with, it was the plague of darkness which lasted three days. God put Egypt in total darkness to the point where no one could see anything but at the same time the land where the Israelites were had light, Exodus 10:21-23.

Imagine being in Egypt and witnessing this event, while Egypt is in total darkness, the land where Israel lived was completely sunlit.

Darkness is often used figuratively in the Scriptures to demonstrate God’s judgment, Isaiah 5:30 / Isaiah 13:10-11 / John 3:19. The Jews certainly believe that the darkening of the sun was a depiction of God’s judgment on the world for a specially heinous sin.

Darkness is also used figuratively in a spiritual sense, where people who don’t know God or have a relationship with Him live in spiritual darkness, Proverbs 4:19 / Isaiah 9:2 / Micah 3:6 / John 11:10 / John 1:5.

If God can cause the sun to stand still for 23 hours and 20 minutes in order that Joshua can win his battle against the Amorite kings, Joshua 10:12-14, then why can’t He cover the land of Palestine or the whole earth with darkness?

Hezekiah, on his deathbed, was visited by the prophet Isaiah who told him that he was not going to die. Hezekiah asked for a sign as proof. Isaiah spoke to the Lord and the Lord brought the shadow ten degrees backwards, 2 Kings 20:9-10.

If God had put the clock back ten degrees, that’s 40 minutes, then why can’t He cover the land of Palestine or the whole earth with darkness?

Why can’t the One who created the universe be able to cause the darkness? Nothing is impossible for God, Genesis 18:14.

Why Did God Cause The Darkness?

God caused the darkness because He didn’t want anyone either in the land of Palestine or everyone on the whole earth to have any doubts that the death of Jesus was significant for all.

His Son came to die for the world, John 3:16, in order for us to have a way to be saved, John 14:6. Just like the purpose of the miracles of Jesus, God used the darkness to bring about faith in His Son and who He claimed to be, John 20:30-31.


When Jesus hung on the cross and the land of Palestine or the whole earth became totally dark, we can only imagine what people must have thought.

I’m sure some would be scared while others would be intrigued. But make no mistake about it, this was God’s doing to prove to the world that His Son was indeed who He claimed to be.

Over and over again we read of the religious leaders demanding a sign from Jesus during His ministry. They asked for any kind of proof, any kind of miracle in order to prove that He was who He claimed to be, John 8:58-59.

However, Jesus refused to give in to their requests and as a result, they just wanted to get rid of Him, they wanted to kill Him. The only miracle they really needed to witness was the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, Matthew 12:39-40 / Matthew 16:4.

As Jesus hung on the cross, many people would have witnessed the miracle of the three hours of darkness, Matthew 27:45 / Luke 23:44-45, the veil of the temple was torn into two, Matthew 27:50-51 / Mark 15:37-38, the earthquake, Matthew 27:50-52, the graves opening up and dead people being raised to life, Matthew 27:50-53.

They would have to conclude, as the centurion soldier did, that ‘Truly, this man was the Son of God,’ Mark 15:39.


"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."