[At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44]
The sky turned dark; the noonday light
Had fled and turned the day to night.
Three hours passed, a doleful gloom.
The soldiers feared a pending doom.
The earth convulsed in like travail
Which tore in two the Temple Veil,
While Jesus hung with tortured breath
In writhing pain awaiting death.
Three hours passed and we surmise
The air recoiled to hear His cries
“My God! Have you forsaken me?”
His soul’s unutterable agony!
Might God have turned away, displeased?
Yet God alone must be appeased
To satisfy the eternal plan1
For this the sinless Son of Man.
The guards confused to what this meant
In terrified bewilderment
Did shudder when the Savior sobbed—
His soul in pain; His body throbbed.
The women stood, eyes blurred with tears
While others mocked with heartless jeers.
Three hours slowly slipping by
Beneath a prescient, darkened sky.
“Mother, Please go home with John
He’ll be to you a faithful son,”
The Savior raised himself and gasped.
“John, take her home.” He softly rasped.
One thief beside with nought to gain
And thoughtless of the Savior’s pain
Wished Jesus when the sun had set
Would remember that they two had met.
But now His thoughts upon that Hill
Were prophecies He must fulfill;
For, Jesus knew with labored breath
Most surely He was nearing death.
To finish all, one thing comes first;
He raised himself and said, “I thirst.”
“All is fulfilled!” He loudly cried.
The Savior bowed his head and died.
So, why retell this Friday’s tale
We know too well our Lord’s travail
Extended in this sacred lore
Three hours! …Nothing less nor more?
The Savior surely bled and died
And this has never been denied,
Yet no one wrote in prophecy
The hours foretold would number three.
No sacred text by faithful scribes,
Yet God must know and God decides,
That Jesus hang upon that tree
Until He finished hour three!
Three hours filled with painful cries
Denying certain death its prize!
Three hours which no scholar thought
Had any message worthy aught.
Yet after this extended stay
The centurion was overheard to say,
With resolute assurance laud,
“This truly was the Son of God!”2
This sacred truth is never known,
Except it comes from God alone—
As Peter learned, you must recall—
Else no one knows. No, not at all!3
So when we read the centurion
Confessed the Savior God’s own Son
If I might be so bold to say
This was his soul’s salvation day!4
God’s patience knows just when to move
And He will wait.5 Does this not prove
God wanted this one guard to know?
It took three hours to tell him so.
1 Isaiah 53:10-11 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
2 Matthew 27:54 (NIV) When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
3 Mt 16:16-17 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
4 Jn 20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
5 James 5:7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.