Author: Ron Graham
Miracles at Calvary
—Three marvelous signs
Three miracles attended the death of Jesus Christ. The sun was darkened, the temple curtain was rent, and many bodies of the saints arose. In this lesson we think about these miracles and the prophecies they fulfilled Then we look at an even greater miracle.
1 The Darkening of the Sun
It was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour and the sun was darkened". (Luke 23:44-45).
History records some few episodes of phenomenal darkness. Probably the most notable is that which occurred throughout the Egyptian Empire at the time Moses was trying to liberate its slaves (Exodus 10:21-23).
This darkness was so thick you could feel it, and it lasted three days. The darkness during the crucifixion lasted only three hours, yet no satisfactory explanation has been offered, except that it was a miracle.
"It shall come to pass in that day, says the Lord God,
That I will make the sun go down at noon,
And I will darken the earth in broad daylight" (Amos 8:9)
On December 14, 2006, Bairnsdale in Victoria was plunged into two hours of darkness in the mid afternoon. The town had been in halflight all morning, blanketed by a cloud of smoke and ash from the great bushfire burning over a huge area of forests and alpine regions to the town's north. The cloud became so enormous that, from 2.30pm to 4.30pm, it was truly as black as night in Bairnsdale.
But what could cause "darkness over all the earth"?
This miracle showed that in mankind's darkest hour, God was in control and his purpose was being fulfilled (Acts 2:22-24).
2 The Earthquake and the Torn Curtain
"Behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened" (Matthew 27:51).
Earthquakes are common, and are generally not something we would regard as a supernatural event. This earthquake, however, must be regarded in its coincidence with other occurrences. As the prophet Haggai said,
"For thus says the Lord of hosts, Yet once more I am going to shake heaven and earth" (Haggai 2:6).
Apart from its remarkable sense of timing, there is something else very odd about this earthquake. It was severe enough to split rocks and open tombs. Yet the damage to the mighty stone temple was apparently minimal, for there is no mention of any disruption to the festivals being observed at that very busy period in Jerusalem's religious calendar.
However, the huge curtain, which hung across the inner sanctuary to veil the most holy place, was torn in the middle from top to bottom, without pulling it down, and without wreaking havoc with the rest of the temple's interior, or without distorting the temple's structure.
This miracle indicated that Christ's death had made a way into the presence of God (Hebrews 10:19-20, 12:26-27).
3 The Resurrection of the Saints
"And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the graves after his resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many" (Matthew 27:52-53).
It would not be surprising that many entombed bodies were disturbed by an earthquake. But how could many of these bodies then rise up, politely wait three days for Jesus to be buried and himself rise from the dead, then make their way from the cemetery into the city and go visiting?
Somehow these dead bodies were dead no more, and had again become sentient.
"I will ransom them from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death.
O death, where is your punishment?
O grave, where is your sting?" (Hosea 13:14).
This miracle made it impossible to explain away the resurrection of Jesus after his death on the cross, and supports our hope of resurrection (1Corinthians 15:51-55).
4 The Greatest Wonder of All
If the miracles we have noted were the sum of the events of Calvary, the story of the cross would be no better than other Unexplained Mysteries which books and television make so much of.
These miracles surrounding the cross are meant to be signs that point us to the most wonderful wonder of all. Jesus was dying to pay the price for our sins, so that by his punishment we might escape the wrath of God.
"He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities,
The chastisement for our peace was upon him,
And by his stripes we are healed.
He poured out his soul unto death,
He was numbered with the transgressors,
He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:5,12).
Note:— Dual Prophecy: The prophecies quoted in this article are used on the understanding that certain prophecies in the Old Testament might have more than one fulfillment.
Some prophecies can be variously applied, firstly to events in their own era, secondly to events in the time of Christ, and thirdly in a few instances to events at the end of the world. The fact that these prophecies apply to the crucifixion does not mean they have no other application.