When the sun stopped shining and what that could mean for us

Mathews George
3 min readMar 29, 2024
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

“… for the sun stopped shining.” (Luke 23:45a)

That is how St. Luke illustrates the reason for the darkness that spread over the sky when Jesus was hanging on the cross. The poetic description riffs off the idea in Hebrew spirituality that God is light and in Him, there is no darkness (1 John 1:5). Jesus himself declares that he is the light of the world (John 12:12). So when he was crucified, it is as though the light was switched off. The Word which became flesh died on the cross.

But Luke does not stop there. He also adds to the verse we began with, “And the curtain of the temple, was torn into two.”

How are these two events related?

The curtain, according to Biblical scholars, was the one which covered the Holy of Holies, the innermost sanctuary in the Jerusalem Temple. The ark of the covenant was placed there, representing the presence of God. Only the high priest was allowed to enter there, that too, once a year, during the Day of Atonement.

Putting it together:

The sun stops shining. The temple curtain tears into two. Humanity killed the light. But the death caused a tearing of the curtain which divided the holy presence of God from the unholy community.

Through his death, Jesus Christ gave us access to his presence. God’s love, at display on the cross, was now available, tangibly, on earth. Humans saw it.

Through his death, the switched-off light continues to shine defiantly. It shows a humanity that is inflicted by darkness, the way to the presence of God. Humanity tried to put out the light, but Jesus Christ, through his death shines ever brighter. And what does the light show us? True love, says John: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ lay down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). God is now among us, through this love, John reminds us in his Gospel (1:14), witnessing that they had seen his glory, “the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” And now We are sent out by Jesus, the light as the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

Leaving you with a verse, this Good Friday, that reminds us that we have hope and confidence in the crucified Christ to draw near to God, the light:

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have the confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:19–23).


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