Gospel: Cross and Resurrection (Mark 15 & 16)

A lot can happen in a week.[1]

On Saturday

Jesus is at Bethany. Mary breaks an expensive jar of perfume and anoints Jesus’ body.

On Sunday

Jesus arrives in Jerusalem. Crowds praise and sing “Hosanna”

On Monday

Jesus enters the temple and drives people out for making it a den of robbers and not a place of prayer for all nations.

On Tuesday

Jesus teaches the disciples of his return to gather the elect.

On Wednesday

Jesus’ betrayal is plotted by Chief Priests and Judas. 

On Thursday

Jesus gathers with the disciples. He washes their feet, celebrates Passover.

Exodus 12:12-14 “This is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.”

µ     Notice that the Passover represents God as Judge and Savior; as in the cross!

This meal becomes known as the Last Supper. Jesus also spends time in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane and then gets arrested.

On Friday

Jesus stands trial before the High Priest and other Chief Priests. They hand him over to Pilate for sentencing only to be handed over to Herod and back to Pilate. The crowd shouted to crucify Jesus.

The Bible gives only brief detail to what crucifixion means. Crucifixion was the most painful mode of execution reserved for the most despised criminals.[2] Jews viewed crucifixion as being under God’s curse.[3] The agony of crucifixion is due to the fact of its prolonged means of death. Those crucified would often hang on a cross for days, passing in and out of consciousness as their lungs struggled to breathe, while laboring under the weight of their dying body. Due to the fact that timber was so expensive, the wood of the cross was typically recycled wood, therefore layered with the blood and sweat of many others.

The crucifixion process was started with the victim being stripped naked, humiliated and then attached his hands and feet across a wooden beam to expose the victim’s bare back. A Lictor, a professional executioner, would yield a cat-o’-nine tails, which was a whip with tentacle-like straps having heavy scraps of metal, bone and glass attached to the end of the straps. The intention of the Lictor was to tenderize the flesh of the shoulders, backs, buttocks and legs of the victim. As skin, muscle, tendons and even bones were ripped off the victim some would die from this scourging itself.

After this scourging, there was placed on Jesus head crown of thorns. Long thorns that would pierce into his forehead, ears, brow and even skull.

All of this was done publicly, thereby bringing utter shame and making an utter spectacle of the victim. Sweaty, sun-baked, nailed naked to a cross, bloodied and body fluids oozing was an atrocious sight. The crowds gathering around this sight today would be like viewing an execution in front of a local mall. Females were mostly withheld from this form of execution but when such they were turned to face the cross so the public did not have to view a woman’s facial expressions, as it was harsher to see females suffer. In fact, today we have the painful word – excruciating – which literally means “from the cross”.

On this cross, nails/spikes were driven into Jesus’ hands and feet – the most sensitive nerve centers on the human body. He was then lifted up as the cross was placed into a pre-dug hole. Further mockery would take place as the crowd hurled insults and spat into his face.

Mark 15:16-20, 33-39          The cross gives us peace and presence with God.

Jesus suffers and dies on the cross. Further, Mark records 2 occurrences:

1)     The curtain of the temple was town in two, from top to bottom.

2)     The centurion who stood facing Jesus said, “Truly, this man was the Son of God”

  1. Mark 1:1 “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
  2. 

What is the point of these 2 occurrences, and further the purpose of the cross? Is the cross just an event to be discussed, displayed in jewelry and art? Or is there a deeper meaning?

Ephesians 2:13-14 “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility”

The cross breaks down the separation between man and God. The temple curtain separated the rooms where man could enter and God’s presence dwelled. When Jesus died, this curtain was torn and access has been opened for us to enter by grace through faith in Christ.

Mark 16:5-7          The resurrection gives us hope and an invitation to be a disciple with Jesus.

The disciples enter the tomb, only to find it empty. An angel proclaims that the crucified Jesus is risen. He was faithful to his promise which calls us all to faith and mission. The resurrection gives us hope of eternal life and it is the believer’s purpose to proclaim this message to others.

APPLY/THINK

As we consider the cross and resurrection, how does it apply to you?

µ     Religious people crucified Christ. Repent of works and Root yourself in the Gospel

“he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his mercy” Titus 3:5a

µ     Unite with Christ in death so you may live.

      Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Martin Luther says, “Faith connects you so intimately with Christ, that He and you become as it were one person. As such you may boldly say: “I am now one with Christ. Therefore Christ’s righteousness, victory, and life are mine.” On the other hand, Christ may say: “I am that big sinner. His sins and his death are mine, because he is joined to me, and I to him… Read the words “me” and “for me” with great emphasis. Print this “me” with capital letters in your heart, and do not ever doubt that you belong to the number of those who are meant by this “me.” [4]

 


[1] Harmony of taken from David Platt, The Cross of Christ at “Secret Church” from The Church at Brook Hills

[2] Much of the following information on crucifixion comes from Driscoll’s Death by Love pp 17-34, and sermon “The Cross: God Dies”, along with John Stott’s The Cross of Christ.

[3] Deuteronomy 21:23  

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