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Glimpses of Glory in the Darkest Hour (Luke 23:44-56)

Luke 23:44–56 - 44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he began praising God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent.” 48 And all the crowds who came together for this spectacle, when they observed what had happened, began to return, beating their breasts. 49 And all His acquaintances and the women who accompanied Him from Galilee were standing at a distance, seeing these things. 50 And a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man 51 (he had not consented to their plan and action), a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God; 52 this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. 54 It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55 Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. What does today’s passage say? In today's passage, we read about the events immediately following Jesus' death on the cross. As He hung there, darkness came over the whole land from around noon until three in the afternoon (v. 44). The veil in the temple was torn in two (v. 45).  Jesus willingly gave up His spirit to the Father and breathed His last (v. 46). Then, when the Roman centurion standing guard witnessed all that transpired, he responded, "Certainly this man was innocent" and praised God (v. 47). The crowd who had demanded His crucifixion now beat their chests in mourning at what they were seeing even as those who knew Him stood at a distance (vv. 48-49). Joseph of Arimathea boldly asked Pilate for Jesus' body and provided his own unused tomb to give Jesus an honorable burial, despite risk to his reputation (vv. 50-53). Also faithful to the end, the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph to see where Jesus' body was laid, so they could return after the Sabbath to further care for their Lord (vv. 55-56). How can I apply Luke 23:44-56 to my life? The crucifixion of Jesus is shrouded in darkness and despair. As Christ hangs dying on the cross, jeering crowds and smug religious leaders seem to have won a victory, silencing the light of truth. Followers scatter in fear and confusion, hiding from threat of accusation themselves. Yet in the shadows, glimmers of light begin shining as a few faithful friends choose courage. Joseph of Arimathea risks his reputation and position to ensure Jesus receives an honorable burial. Nicodemus joins him in devoted service despite danger. The women who had ministered to Jesus stay present, grieving yet plotting more acts of love for their Lord. Even the darkness itself carries promise, hinting at God’s redemptive plan unfolding mysteriously. In difficult times when darkness and despair appear dominant, we too can turn on light through acts of devotion, courage, service, and faith. As we walk closely with Jesus, He gives us strength to love, forgive, speak truth, and honor Him when no one else will. By His Spirit, we can trust God’s purposes even when we don’t understand. As we reflect on this passage, may we find inspiration from those who loved Jesus well in His darkest hour. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. Recognize God's Sovereignty in the Midst of Darkness and Despair (vv. 44-45): When darkness came over the land while Jesus was on the cross, it reflected the despair and confusion people were experiencing in that agonizing moment. Yet in God's mysterious plan, this darkness signified His authority over creation and hinted at His redemptive purposes being accomplished even in Jesus' darkest hour. When we walk through times of hardship and despair, we too should not only recognize God’s sovereignty at work behind the scenes, using even difficult circumstances for His glory but we should also draw our peace and strength from that knowledge. Rather than focusing on the darkness around us, we can reflect on scriptures that remind us of God's power and look for signs of His purposes unfolding. Though we may not understand it fully now, we can trust in faith that He will work all things for good in the end (Genesis 1:2-3, Psalm 139:11-12, Romans 8:28).

Food for thought: When have you seen evidence of God's sovereignty in the midst of a dark time? What scriptures help renew your perspective?

  1. Embrace Jesus' Sacrifice as the Ultimate Act of Love and Forgiveness (vv. 46-47): When Pilate’s man, the centurion overseeing all the Roman soldiers at the crucifixion, saw what happened and Jesus’ love in spite of what was being done to him, could only praise God for such a display of love.  As Jesus willingly gave His life for us, He showed the depths of that love by bearing our sins and even forgiving those crucifying Him. His sacrifice opens the way for forgiveness and reconciliation with God for all who receive His gift by faith. When we embrace the wonder of Jesus giving His life for us, it awakens love and gratitude that overflows into extending the grace we’ve received to those around us – even “enemies.” We can ask God to help us forgive others as we’ve been forgiven. As we do, we proclaim Christ’s love. May we grow to be more like Jesus, who gave everything to redeem what was lost (Ephesians 4:31-5:2, Colossians 3:12-14, 1 Peter 2:21-25).

Food for thought: Is there someone you need to forgive? How can you extend the love Jesus showed you to them?

  1. Find Courage in Faith to Stand by Jesus, Even When Others Turn Away (vv. 48-49): When the jeering crowds and Jewish leaders turned against Jesus at the crucifixion, His most loyal friends vanished too. Except for a few faithful women watching at a distance, His disciples had abandoned Him. Yet later these same fearful followers found courage to boldly proclaim faith in their risen Savior, even under threat. The difference was encountering Jesus personally after His resurrection. This transformed scared skeptics hiding away into bold witnesses willing to face persecution and death rather than disown Christ. As we walk closely with Jesus daily in prayer and scripture, He instills similar courage in us. We can trust Him to give us His Spirit's power to stand for our convictions rather than cave to pressure from detractors or crowds (Joshua 1:9, Acts 4:13, Philippians 1:27-28).

Food for thought: When have you stayed silent instead of standing up for your faith? How might walking closely with Jesus give you courage to speak up?

  1. Practice Quiet Acts of Devotion and Service as Expressions of Love Especially in Times of Darkness and Despair (vv. 50-56): At the crucifixion, Jesus' enemies celebrated what seemed like victory, while most friends had abandoned Him. Yet in the face of crushing despair, a few faithful followers chose quiet but courageous action. Joseph of Arimathea risked reputation and position to ensure Jesus received an honorable burial. Nicodemus joined him, loving Jesus by providing abundant spices for His body. The faithful women remained present, plans already forming to further care for their Lord. Their quiet acts honored Christ in a dark time. Likewise, when despair seems dominant, we can still shine light through small expressions of devotion – caring for those in need, comforting mourners, meeting felt needs. As we serve others even in darkness, we live as beacons of hope, pointing to resurrection life still to come (Matthew 6:1-4, Galatians 6:9-10, Hebrews 6:10-11).

Food for thought: What quiet act of service could you do this week to honor Jesus? Who especially needs some light in the middle of despair? The examples of courageous devotion displayed in Jesus’ darkest hour should compel us to love and serve Him even when it’s tough. Let’s ask God for grace to follow Christ’s model of forgiving even enemies, as He did from the cross. When we face hardship or confusion, we can trust God’s mysterious purposes even through the darkness. Rather than giving in to despair or outrage at injustice, we can shine light through quiet acts of service and words of truth. By walking closely with Jesus daily, He will give us His resurrection power to stand for righteousness at personal risk when crowds turn against truth. And as we nurture sincere devotion in the hidden corners of life, our actions water the seeds of revival God promises to bring from death. Just as the faithful acts during Christ’s burial hinted at coming resurrection, our faithfulness now anticipates the certain triumph still ahead as His Kingdom advances on earth. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would help me demonstrate selfless, persevering devotion to Christ in seasons of difficulty and despair. Empower me by Your Spirit to nurture consistent intimacy with Jesus through prayer and Bible study, that I may have courage to stand for truth rather than cave to pressure from detractors or crowds. Train my heart to readily forgive others from a place of comprehending the extravagant grace I’ve received in Christ. Use me to shine light in times of darkness through quiet acts of service and compassion that reflect the sacrificial love of Jesus. Grow wisdom and vision in me to recognize glimpses of Your sovereign purposes unfolding, even in times of confusion and loss. Give me perspective to view troubles as opportunities for revival seeds to germinate as I trust in Your mysterious, redeeming plan. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Luke 23:47 - Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he began praising God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent.” With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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