Read: Mark 15:21-47
As a rule, I don’t get real excited about New Year’s celebrations, but I am hopeful that 2018 will be a year of change, redirection, refocus, and rebuilding for the ministry that Jesus has in mind for me. That’s probably not very unique, but in the last 4 or 5 years, significant changes have happened in my life as children become adults and the umbilical cord attached to the Air Force is detached.
If I were really paying attention, this post should have been the last post of 2017, the rather factual report of the crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus. The first post of the new year should have been on the resurrection, the distinction between Christianity and every other religion in the world. Forgive me for not planning well.
In the last several posts, I’ve honed in on shorter passages than today’s reading. As I read through the chapter, it seems to me that John Mark wanted to provide information about these events in a brief, somewhat journalistic style. There is very little interaction in the passage–just key facts. The way I read this is simply to cover the story and move on.
- Yes, Jesus was crucified as a human, along with others, according to the horrible Roman authority’s system of punishment.
- Yes, Jesus, the man, died. His physical body quit functioning. Mine would have died at the scourging, but His body, because of His human strength, continued through to Golgotha where others watched, sneered, judged, and witnessed the cruel death.
- Yes, Jesus’ body was buried by a friend in a place that was known about at that time, especially by Mary and Mary.
I’ll take a quick look at these three yeses today.
Not much detail here, just some details. At Hope Fellowship, we recall the Stations of the Cross during Easter (the featured image is #3). One of the images is based on this scripture:
A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. Mark 15:21
Imagine making your pilgrimage to Jerusalem during the Passover celebration, then being tasked to carry the cross for someone’s crucifixion. What a dreadful way to remember Passover! Perhaps Simon is named here as the father of Rufus mentioned in Romans 16:13.
The mocked and taunted Jesus as He hung there and died under the torture designed to create as much human pain as possible before death. A sign for those opposed to the Roman rule.
For six hours, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., Jesus labored to stay alive as He hung there on the cross.
And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). Mark 15:34
There are many schools of thought on this particular passage, as is typically the case for the theologically elite. I believe that Jesus, the human, felt incredible physical pain as well as the huge burden that was placed on Him. For those who knew the psalms, He points us to Psalm 22 as He begins to cite the incredible words from David that ends with this promise:
They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!
In the end, the body gives up and must be tended to. Joseph of Arimathea steps in to boldly claim the body, wrap it in linen, and place it in the tomb hewn from rock and covered by stone.
Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Mark 15:43
Mary and Mary were watching the whole time, keeping track of events, no doubt mourning deeply.
This is a sad sequence of events, a somber reminder of the extent to which our Savior would go for our benefit. Not the greatest way to start the new year, or perhaps the best way to start:
remember the cross
remember the pain
don’t forget the shame,
the insults, the blame;
words hurled toward the man.
remember the cross
as you consider
your debt is not so great,
your pain not too severe,
the cost for you and me
is really no loss.
remember the cross
as we strive to change,
as we hope to empower
those who know and
those who are blinded
to the reality of spiritual darkness.
remember the cross.
May God richly bless 2018 for you and yours. I can honestly, deeply say this to the few of you that actually read this blog: I love you. I hope the best for you in this and every year. May God pour out His favor on you and your family. May you go and make disciples and do what Jesus would have you do each day.
Go in peace and grace.
You are His son, His daughter, His.