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Mark 15:15, 1213, 32, 3739; 16:1, 57comment (0)

October 22, 2009

By Michael Wilson

Related Scripture: Mark 15:15, 1213, 32, 3739; 16:1, 57

Bible Studies for Life
Director, Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence, Samford University

The Hero Victorious
Mark 15:1–5, 12–13, 32, 37–39; 16:1, 5–7

My family lived in Madison County for 14 years. The churches I served during those years had members who worked at NASA and other aerospace firms in the area. One company specialized in “destructive testing,” a process in which the item being tested is operated beyond design limits to the point of self-destruction. What is learned from the failure is used to improve future designs. Failure in this context is desirable — the knowledge gained is important. Our society, however, has a low tolerance for failure. We value success, productivity and advancement.

If evaluated by our society’s standards of success, then Jesus would be considered a resounding failure. Yet what appeared to be His failure on the cross was the successful fulfillment of the Father’s plan for redemption of humanity. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his classic book “The Cost of Discipleship” offered this statement about following Jesus, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” Jesus was no failure — He modeled for us the way to live the adventure of discipleship.

Stand Tall (15:1–5)
The crowd made its way to Gethsemane as Jesus was offering anguished prayers and the disciples slept. Jesus woke the disciples just in time to see Judas offer the betraying signal-kiss. The crowd confronted Jesus and delivered Him to the Sanhedrin, the “supreme court” of the Jews. Jesus’ response to the high priest’s religious question, “Are you the Christ?,” is significant (Mark 14:61). Jesus used the words “I am,” (Mark 14:62) the same words used by God to identify Himself to Moses. These were considered sacred words, not to be spoken frivolously. Jesus’ response was unambiguous and direct. He clearly identified Himself with the Father by His answer. Not surprisingly, the high priest declared, “Blasphemy!,” and tore his clothes to emphasize the seriousness of the moment. Pilate’s question was asked out of political concern rather than religious concern. Jesus’ mission was not political (Mark 15:2). Whatever the reason for Jesus’ persistent silence, He fulfilled yet another characteristic of Isaiah’s messianic suffering Servant (Isa. 53:7).

Stand Alone (15:12–13, 32)
“Crucify Him!” was the angry crowd’s shouted response to Pilate’s question. Only days earlier, a more joyful, exuberant crowd shouted, “Hosanna!,” as Jesus entered Jerusalem. Perhaps intentionally, Mark connected the events by using the same Greek word for “shouted out” in both passages. Hosanna, literally meaning “save us,” is a word that communicated the messianic hope of the Jews (Ps. 118:25). The name “Barabbas” is a construction of two common Hebrew words: “bar,” meaning son, and “abba,” meaning father. Sadly the crowd chose the wrong “son of the father,” rejecting the long-anticipated Messiah, the fulfillment of its shouts of Hosanna.

Stand Amazed (15:37–39)
There were two curtains in the temple. An outer curtain separated the sanctuary from the courtyard. An inner curtain separated the holy of holies from the sanctuary. The holy of holies was entered only once each year on the Day of Atonement. It is not clear which curtain was torn as Jesus gave up His life. We might presume the curtain obscuring access to the holy of holies was torn, clearly symbolizing that what once stood between the people and God had been removed by Jesus’ death.

Stand Victorious (16:1, 5–7)
The Sabbath ended around 6 p.m. on Saturday. The two Marys and Salome ventured out to purchase aromatic spices and oils to more adequately prepare Jesus’ body for burial than was possible earlier. On Sunday morning, they arrived to discover the large stone blocking the entrance to the tomb had been moved. The “young man,” understood by Matthew to be an angel (Matt. 28:5), greeted the startled women with, “Do not be alarmed.” This same word is used by Mark to describe the intense emotions Jesus’ felt at Gethsemane (Mark 14:33). Now the women need not have such emotions. Good news. Jesus had been raised victorious over death, just as He had said.

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