33 At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” 36 One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. 37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:33-39 NIV)
It was a dark day. Darkest day in history. God came to earth to seek and save those who were lost, yet they yelled, “Crucify Him!” Love embodied had been hated and judged worthy of death. The One who had intricately knit His executioners together in their mother’s wombs was bloodied by the hands He had created. Those whom He had given a voice to praise His name were using their voices to hurl insults at Him. Those who had followed Him for three years were drowning in disappointment. It was a dark day.
I’m sure the disciples had to have been thinking to themselves, “It’s over.” All of their hopes. All of their dreams. All of the things that they thought were going to happen as a result of the three years they had followed, listened to, and believed in Jesus…it was now over. What they didn’t realize was that God was working on the darkest day of their lives. This is what I, and maybe you, fail to remember on the dark and seemingly hopeless days of our lives as well.
I love verse 38, “The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Just one little sentence. A sentence most skip right over. This one little sentence assures us that God was working on the darkest day in history. The “curtain” Mark refers to was the curtain surrounding the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. The high priest of the temple would enter “behind the curtain” once a year to make atonement for the sins of the people. Behind the curtain was where the very presence of God resided. Nobody could enter into the presence of God except for the high priest and he could only enter once he had made sacrifice for his own sin. At the death of Jesus the curtain was torn from top to bottom. From top to bottom? That’s right. Who could have torn it from top to bottom? I told you God was working on the darkest of days. God tore the temple curtain and as a result you and I can enter into the very presence of God. What a thought! The writer of Hebrews puts it this way.
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23 NIV
God was working on the darkest day of all even though Jesus’ followers didn’t know it. God is still working in the darkest days of my life and yours–even though we oftentimes don’t realize it. The events of Friday–a cross and a torn curtain, can serve to remind me that even in the darkness, He is the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords! Never forget that He is always working.
My prayer today, Lord, is that you will allow the events of Friday to remind me that You are always working in my life, even on the darkest of days.