The Darkest Day of All the World
Matthew xxvii: 31
Mark xv: 20 to 47;
Luke xxiii: 26 to 56;
xix: 16 to 42.
Pilate, the Roman governor, gave order that Jesus
should die by the cross. The Roman soldiers then
took Jesus and beat him again most cruelly; and then
led him out of the city to the place of death. This
was a place called "Golgotha" in the Jewish
language, "Calvary" in that of the Romans; both
words meaning "The Skull Place."
With the soldiers went out of the city a great crowd
of people, some of them enemies of Jesus, glad to
see him suffer; others of them friends of Jesus, and
the women who had helped him, now weeping as they
saw him, all covered with his blood, and going out
to die. But Jesus turned to them, and said:
"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but
weep for yourselves, and for your children. For the
days are coming when they shall count those happy
who have no little ones to be slain; when they shall
wish that the mountains might fall on them, and the
hills might cover them, and hide them from their
They had tried to make Jesus bear his own cross, but
soon found that he was too weak from his sufferings,
and could not carry it. They seized on a man who was
coming out of the country into the city, a man named
Simon; and they made him carry the cross to its
place at Calvary.
It was a custom among the Jews, to give to men about
to die by the cross some medicine to deaden their
feelings, so that they would not suffer so greatly.
They offered this to Jesus, but when he had tasted
it, and found what it was, he would not take it. He
knew that he would die, but he wished to have his
mind clear, and to understand what was done and what
was said, even though his sufferings might be
At the place Calvary they laid the cross down, and
stretched Jesus upon it, and drove nails through his
hands and feet to fasten him to the cross; and then
they stood it upright with Jesus upon it. While the
soldiers were doing this dreadful work, Jesus prayed
for them to God, saying, "Father, forgive them; for
they know not what they are doing."
The soldiers also took the clothes that Jesus had
worn, giving to each one a garment. But when they
came to his undergarment, they found that it was
woven, and had no seams; so they said, "Let us not
tear it, but cast lots for it, to see who shall have
it." So at the foot of the cross the soldiers threw
lots for the garment of Christ. Two men who had been
robbers and had been sentenced to die by the cross,
were led out to die at the same time with Jesus. One
was placed on a cross at his right side, and the
other at his left; and to make Jesus appear as the
worst, his cross stood in the middle. Over the head
of Jesus on his cross, they placed, by Pilate's
order, a sign on which was written:
JESUS OF NAZARETH,
THE KING OF THE JEWS."
written in three languages: in Hebrew, which was the
language of the Jews; in Latin, the language of the
Romans, and in Greek. Many of the people read this
writing; but the chief priests were not pleased with
it. They urged Pilate to have it changed from "The
King of the Jews" to "He said, I am King of the
But Pilate would not change it. He said, "What I
have written, I have written."
And the people who passed by on the road, as they
looked at Jesus on the cross, mocked at him. Some
called out to him, "You that would destroy the
Temple, and build it in three days, save yourself.
If you are the Son of God, come down from the
And the priests and scribes said, "He saved others,
but he cannot save himself. Come down from the
cross, and we will believe in you!"
And one of the robbers who was on his own cross
beside that of Jesus joined in the cry, and said,
"If you are the Christ, save yourself and save us!"
But the other robber said to him, "Have you no fear
of God, to speak thus, while you are suffering the
same fate with this man? And we deserve to die, but
this man has done nothing wrong."
Then this man said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when
thou comest into thy kingdom!"
And Jesus answered him, as they were both hanging on
"To-day you shall be with me in heaven."
Before the cross of Jesus his mother was standing,
filled with sorrow for her son, and beside her was
one of the disciples, John, the disciple whom he
loved best. Other women besides his mother were
there, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas,
and a woman named Mary Magdalene, out of whom a year
before Jesus had sent an evil spirit. Jesus wished
to give his mother, now that he was leaving her,
into the care of John, and he said to her, as he
looked from her to John, "Woman, see your son."
And then to John he said, "Son, see your mother."
And on that day John took the mother of Jesus home
to his own house, and cared for her as his own
At about noon a sudden darkness came over the land,
and lasted for three hours. And in the middle of the
afternoon, when Jesus had been on the cross six
hours of terrible pain, he cried out aloud words
"My Lord, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" words
which are the beginning of the twenty-second Psalm,
a psalm which long before had spoken of many of
After this he spoke again, saying, "I thirst!"
And some one dipped a sponge into a cup of vinegar,
and put it upon a reed, and gave him a drink of it.
Then Jesus spoke his last words upon the cross:
"It is finished! Father, into thy hands I give my
And then Jesus died. And at that moment the vail in
the Temple between the Holy Place and the Holy of
Holies was torn apart by unseen hands from the top
to the bottom. And the Roman officer who had charge
of the soldiers around the cross saw what had taken
place, and how Jesus died, and he said, "Truly this
was a righteous man; he was the Son of God."
After Jesus was dead, one of the soldiers, to be
sure that he was no longer living, ran his spear
into the side of his dead body; and out of the wound
came pouring both water and blood.
There were even among the rulers of the Jews a few
who were friends of Jesus, though they did not dare
to follow Jesus openly. One of these was Nicodemus,
the ruler who came to see Jesus at night. Another
was a rich man who came from the town of Arimathea,
and was named Joseph. Joseph of Arimathea went
boldly in to Pilate, and asked that the body of
Jesus might be given to him. Pilate wondered that he
had died so soon, for often men lived on the cross
two or three days. But when he found that Jesus was
really dead, he gave his body to Joseph.
Then Joseph and his friends took down the body of
Jesus from the cross, and wrapped it in fine linen.
And Nicodemus brought some precious spices, myrrh
and aloes, which they wrapped up with the body. Then
they placed the body in Joseph's own new tomb, which
was a cave dug out of the rock, in a garden near the
place of the cross. And before the opening of the
cave they rolled a great stone.
And Mary Magdalene and the other Mary and some other
women saw the tomb, and watched while they laid the
body of Jesus in it. On the next morning, some of
the rulers of the Jews came to Pilate, and said:
"Sir, we remember that that man Jesus of Nazareth,
who deceived the people, said while he was yet
alive, 'After three days I will rise again.' Give
orders that the tomb shall be watched and made sure
for three days; or else his disciples may steal his
body, and then say, 'He is risen from the dead;' and
thus even after his death he may do more harm than
he did while he was alive."
Pilate said to them, "Set a watch, and make it as
sure as you can."
Then they placed a seal upon the stone, so that no
one might break it; and they set a watch of soldiers
at the door.
And in the tomb the body of Jesus lay from the
evening of Friday, the day when he died on the
cross, to the dawn of Sunday, the first day of the