Mark 15:15–39; 16:5–7comment (0)
February 25, 2010
By Cecil Taylor
Related Scripture: Mark 15:15–39; 16:5–7
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Dean, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
WHEN LIFE IS UNFAIR
Mark 15:15–39; 16:5–7
First Pilate ordered Jesus flogged. Soldiers stripped the victim and then bent him over a stone or tied him to a post with hands fastened above his head. With a whip made of leather with bits of bone, stone and metal plaited into it, they beat him. An expert could open up the victim’s body cavity. So brutal was this punishment that many victims died from it.
Then Pilate handed Jesus over to the soldiers for execution. Before they took Him away, the troops mocked Him as a “king.” They dressed Jesus in a military tunic and wove for Him a wreath of thorns to imitate the emperor’s robe and diadem. They bowed to Him and contemptuously called Him “King of the Jews!” All the verbs in verse 19 indicate continual action. Repeatedly they hit Him on the head with a rod to drive the thorns deeper. Repeatedly they spat at Him in derision. Repeatedly they bowed the knee to Him in mock worship. When they finished their play, they put His own clothes on Him and an execution squad of four (John 19:23) led Him out to die.
Normally the condemned carried his own cross beam to the execution site. Such a toll had the physical abuse taken that Jesus was too weak to bear the weight. The Romans “forced” Simon from Cyrene, a Roman colony in North Africa, to take it for Him.
At Golgotha (“the place of the skull,” perhaps named because of its shape), they offered Jesus wine laced with myrrh to dull the pain. He refused, choosing to have all His senses unclouded as He went about the work of atonement. They crucified Him at “the third hour,” i.e., 9 a.m.
The soldiers divided Jesus’ possessions by lot and over His head, nailed a sign stating the reason for His execution: “The King of the Jews.” In many paintings, the letters “INRI” appear. These abbreviate the title in Latin: Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudeoreum. Two robbers were nailed up also, one to either side of Jesus. Passers-by, priests and scribes and the robbers crucified beside Jesus mocked Him over and again. They spoke more truly than they knew. If He saved others, then He could not save Himself.
From noon to 3 p.m., Jesus hung in darkness, a cosmic sign of heaven’s judgment on what took place at Calvary. During that time, a blanket of silence covered Jesus’ sufferings. Finally, at 3 p.m., He cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Evidently the Father’s forsaking of the Son took place during those three dark hours. God forsaken of God? Who can understand it? But clearly Jesus experienced what it is to be utterly abandoned by God. Indeed that was the worst pain of the cross. Physical agony He suffered without a (recorded) word. But when He experienced God-forsakenness, it wrenched from even the strong Son of God this scream of agony. Abandonment was the cross within the cross. It is the worst horror of hell itself. The heart of hell is when a person who just wants God to leave him alone finally gets his wish.
A soldier dipped a sponge in a jar of rough vinegar wine used by the soldiers and held it to Jesus’ lips. Then He cried aloud and died.
At Jesus’ death, the temple veil was ripped from top to bottom (to show its destruction was supernatural). Thus was the way into God’s presence opened for all (Heb. 6:19; 9:3; 10:20).
The centurion in charge came away convinced Jesus was the divine Son of God. This conversion of an unbeliever by the dying Savior is the high point of Mark’s Gospel.
On the first Easter morning, an angel informed the women who came to finish readying Jesus’ body for permanent burial that the Crucified One was risen. For proof, he pointed to the empty stone slab where the body was laid. Then he sent them to tell the disciples and Peter (the denier) to meet Jesus in Galilee.