It was Monday, August 21, 2017. From my living room in Tulsa, Oklahoma I viewed the rare event on TV as the sun was eclipsed by the moon in Madras, Oregon, U.S.A. All across the nation, others were pinned to their TV sets, following the progress of the eclipse from west coast to east.
In Tulsa, we experienced the event with a darkening of the sky and an eerie stillness of the wind. I rushed out to the patio and discovered a weird pattern of shadows on the stone as I stood there soaking in that extremely rare moment in history. There wasn’t a single breath of air moving; not a leaf stirred on the trees. I can only imagine how it must have been experienced in the areas directly in the path of the sun’s eclipse when the sun stopped shining completely.
From the gospel of Luke, we have a glimpse of the impact on the earth at the moment of Jesus’ death. From noon until 3 o’clock, “darkness came over the whole land… for the sun stopped shining.” If that event was anything like the eclipse of August 21, 2017, complete stillness and a hush would have accompanied the sudden darkness. This much we do know: the Biblical ‘eclipse’ was accompanied by an earthquake, the ripping of the curtain in the Temple and the opening of tombs to release their dead. It is no wonder that the centurion exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
To many, the 2017 eclipse was a reminder of that incomprehensible moment in history when one sacrifice was made—once for all—for all the sins of the world: past, present and future. At that very moment when Jesus surrendered His life as a substitutionary offering for the sins of mankind, I was forgiven even though not yet born. Then, when I finally repented and turned control of my life over to Jesus, that forgiveness became mine and the Father now looks at me through the righteousness of Christ.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The forgiveness that came about as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice is available to everyone: “whoever believes in Him” according to John 3:16. “Receive and believe”, the apostle John tells us elsewhere in scripture. “Confess with your heart.” It doesn’t matter how we say it; it all happened at the cross, when the sun went dark.