The Darkness, The Torn Curtain, The Earthquake, & The Empty Tombs

Golgotha hill
Golgotha hill (Jerusalem, Israel)

That is a big title for a big day!  Today is the day we honor and remember Jesus for dying on the cross for our sins to set us free from sin and death and give us eternal life!  Jesus is the perfect Lamb of God and His blood is the only blood that is all sufficient to cover and forgive all of our sins and justify us before God!  Jesus was the final sacrifice once and for all and He is the fulfillment of Scripture!  We give Jesus praise, honor, and glory because He is worthy and Jesus is Lord!

Golgotha skull face
Golgotha, The Place of the Skull (see the skull face to the right)

“They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).  There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.  When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.  And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.  Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

Matthew 27:33-37

Golgotha skull face 2

Golgotha art
Art by Jon McNaughton

The title for this post is in reference to four miraculous events that occurred that day on Golgotha hill in Jerusalem as Jesus died for us on that Roman cross.  These events are not just recorded in the Bible, but in the historical record as well.  Let’s first take a look at what is recorded in the Book of Matthew regarding the death of Jesus and the events that followed.

“From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.  About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge.  He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink.  The rest said, “Now leave him alone.  Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  The earth shook and the rocks split.  The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.  They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

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!”

Many women were there, watching from a distance.  They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs.  Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.”

Matthew 27:45-56

The darkness, the torn curtain, the earthquake, and the empty tombs were all supernatural miracles of God!  Jesus is the resurrection and the life and those tombs broke open the very moment He died!  Can you imagine being in Jerusalem seeing people who had once been dead just walking around the city interacting with everyone?!  What a powerful and terrifying day!  So powerful and terrifying that it moved one of the Roman soldiers who had crucified Jesus to proclaim out loud that he believed Jesus was the Son of God!

There is even historical evidence that backs up the three hours of darkness, the great earthquake, and the dead people coming back to life that all happened on the day Jesus was crucified!  Ancient historians Africanus, Thallus, Phlegon, and Tertullian wrote about these amazing events and it is recorded history that backs up the Bible!  Let’s take a look at what they had to say about the day Jesus died for us.

 Africanus wrote a five volume History of the World around A.D. 221.

“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down.  This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.  For the Hebrews celebrate the passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Savior falls on the day before the passover; but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun.  And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse be supposed to happen when the moon is almost diametrically opposite the sun?

Let opinion pass however; let it carry the majority with it; and let this portent of the world be deemed an eclipse of the sun, like others a portent only to the eye.  Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth—manifestly that one of which we speak.  But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe?  Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period.”

-Julius Africanus, Extant Writings, XVIII

“Thallus wrote a history of the eastern Mediterranean world since the Trojan War.  He wrote his regional history in about AD 52.6.  Unfortunately his original writings have been lost, however he is specifically quoted by Julius Africanus as in the quote above, and Africanus was a renowned third century historian.  Africanus stated, ‘Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away the darkness as an eclipse of the sun—unreasonably as it seems to me.’  Thallus attempted to give a naturalistic explanation to the darkness during the crucifixion.”

“Phlegon was a Greek historian who wrote an extensive chronology around A.D. 137.  Phlegon provides powerful confirmation, identifying the year and the exact time of day.  In addition, he writes of an earthquake accompanying the darkness, which is specifically recorded in Matthew 27:51:

“In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad (i.e. AD 33) there was ‘the greatest eclipse of the sun’ and that ‘it became night in the sixth hour of the day (i.e. noon) so that stars even appeared in the heavens.  There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea.’”


“St. Tertullian (160-220), in his Apology addressed to the “rulers of the Roman Empire” also writes of the Darkness at Christ’s Crucifixion:

“And yet, nailed upon the cross, He exhibited many notable signs, by which His death was distinguished from all others.  At His own free-will, He with a word dismissed from Him His spirit, anticipating the executioner’s work.  In the same hour, too, the light of day was withdrawn, when the sun at the very time was in his meridian blaze.  Those who were not aware that this had been predicted about Christ, no doubt thought it an eclipse.  You yourselves have the account of the world-portent still in your archives.”


The Bible is recorded history of events that actually happened, and even ancient historians back that truth up!  Pretty cool if you ask me!  There is plenty of evidence that God’s Word is true.  The world just doesn’t want you to know that!  I love how Africanus wrote: “But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe?  Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period.”  That is right my ancient friend!  No such event has ever been recorded before or since!  All those things only happened at the same time when Jesus died on that cross!

Now that we know about the darkness, the earthquake, and the empty tombs, let us turn our attention to the torn curtain.  I cannot stress enough the importance of the curtain of the temple tearing in two from top to bottom!  The temple was the holiest site in Jerusalem.  God’s Spirit was inside the temple and only the high priest could enter the inner room called the Most Holy Place.  There was a separation between God and man and the high priest had to make sacrifices for the sins of the people and himself.

I once heard our old Pastor give a sermon about how dangerous it was to go inside the temple.  He said the other priests would actually tie a rope around the ankle of the high priest before he entered the inner room.  They did this because if the high priest had any hidden sins that he had not confessed, then he would die upon being in the presence of God!  The other priests could not enter the temple to get the body or else they would die too, so they would just pull the body out with the rope.  That was what it was like under the first covenant of the law trying to gain righteousness by works.  Jesus gave us the new covenant of grace, which is eternal life through faith in Him!


Jewish temple first century
Artistic representation of the first century Jewish Temple.
Jewish temple scale model
Holyland Model of Jerusalem (1:50 scale) at the Israel Museum.

Jewish temple scale model view

“Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly tabernacle.  A tabernacle was set up.  In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place.  Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant.  This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.  Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover.  But we cannot discuss these things now.

When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry.  But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.  The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing.  This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper.  They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings–external regulations applying until the time of the new order.”

Hebrews 9:1-10

When Jesus died for us and the curtain was torn in two, the separation between God and man was destroyed and through faith in Jesus we can now approach God with freedom and confidence!  Jesus is the final high priest in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7 and 8) and He entered the most Holy Place by His own blood!  His sacrifice covers the sins of the whole world and He is the final sacrifice for sins once and for all!

“When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.  He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.”

Hebrews 9:11-12

“And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Hebrews 10:10

“Therefore, brothers, since we have 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 in full assurance of faith, 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

Praise God the curtain is torn and now we can all have access to God through faith in Jesus and receive His Holy Spirit inside of us!  No longer does God keep His Spirit separate from us.  Now He graciously pours out His Spirit on anyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ!  We are now the temple of the Holy Spirit!

“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

Hebrews 9:15

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Ephesians 2:19-22

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

God no longer resides in a temple built by man.  He freely gives His Spirit to anyone who believes in Jesus Christ and He resides inside of us!  Believers in Jesus Christ are His Holy temple!  Now you know why Christians get so excited about the curtain being torn!

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.”

Ephesians 1:13-14

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

God came to earth as the man Christ Jesus to set us free and give us eternal life, and He accomplished that when He willingly died on the cross for all of us!  Darkness covered the land, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, the earth shook and rocks split, the tombs broke open, and our Savior defeated sin and death once and for all!  Thank you Jesus!  You are worthy to be praised!

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

Ephesians 3:12

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 10:9

“for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:13

“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Jesus speaking in John 6:40

Jesus is offering this freedom to you right now!  The salvation of your soul!  Nothing in this world can ever compare with that!  I pray you consider the darkened sky, the earthquake, and the people who were raised to life, and you walk right through that torn curtain into the arms of Jesus who loves you more than you could ever imagine!

Grace and peace to you all!

“But he was pierced for our


he was crushed for our


the punishment that

brought us peace was

upon him,

and by his wounds we are


Isaiah 53:5






Author: Ryan Callahan

Hello, and welcome to my site! I am an independent Christian author (One Man's Very Strange Supernatural Life), blogger, and evangelist for Jesus. My main goal with this blog is to help people come to know Jesus, help people understand the Bible, and to minister to a lost and hurting world. This site is about hope, new beginnings, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love! I'm glad you are here, God bless you! Copyright © 2023 Ryan Callahan. All rights reserved.

43 thoughts on “The Darkness, The Torn Curtain, The Earthquake, & The Empty Tombs”

  1. Awesome post, Ryan! I had no idea of the ancient historians writing on this. So interesting (and amazing – Amen!) Thanks for sharing on this Good Friday. ❤ I'm coming back later to read this again and study a bit more. Happy Easter!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I especially appreciate the photos, Ryan. I had never actually seen a photo of Golgotha before — somehow the image helps to make the events of the resurrection so much more real to me in some way. Much appreciated! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Halleluah! The most awesome post, Ryan. You are a very good teacher and a preacher. What a celebration and confirmation by God the moment Jesus died!!! It was so miraculous for all to witness to show Jesus was the Son of God and our Savior…only God can put on a show like that!!! Amen. Happy Easter Callahan family. Love you all! Mom

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much sir for the Blessed post,wish you Happy Easter.

    On Apr 20, 2019 12:16 AM, “Ryan Callahan’s Blog” wrote:

    Author Ryan Callahan posted: ” That is a big title for a big day! Today is the day we honor and remember Jesus for dying on the cross for our sins to set us free from sin and death and give us eternal life! Jesus is the perfect Lamb of God and His blood is the only blood that is al”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. P.S. It’s crazy that people even think Mt. Sinai is on the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula because that route doesn’t even have them crossing the Red Sea and that was not ancient Midian. Midian was what is now Saudi Arabia. The Israelites crossed through the Red Sea from the Egyptian side at Nuweiba beach and went through the Gulf of Aqaba (part of Red Sea) all the way to the other side in Midian (Saudi Arabia). The place people say is Mt. Sinai on the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula is a ridiculous tourist attraction.😊 The real Mt. Sinai (Mt. Horeb, Jabal Al Lawz) is heavily guarded in Saudi Arabia as you say. I love researching things like that. God bless!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, I know. It’s interesting that while most Biblical movies either don’t show/say specifically where the Red Sea Crossing or Mount Sinai were (although The Ten Commandments is very specific in putting them in the Sinai Peninusla), the movie Exodus: Gods and Kings at one point shows Moses looking at a map of the Sinai Peninsula and says they’ll follow his original route to Midian (when he fled Egypt)… but cross the sea on the EAST side of the Peninsula, i.e., the Gulf of Aquaba (the real location!) – thus implying that Sinai is in Arabia.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I am just now seeing this for some reason…This gave me chills! To be reminded of all the events that took place after Jesus died on the cross. And the veil that was rent, so that we can run freely to God with our sin, worries and petitions! The pic of Golgotha really made it easy to imagine it all, and seeing the actual skull for what it was named for! This was a wonderful biblical history lesson! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: