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Mark 15:3339; 16:17; 1 Corinthians 15:1719comment (0)

August 8, 2013

By Jeffery M. Leonard

Related Scripture: Mark 15:3339; 16:17

Bible Studies for Life 
Assistant Professor of Religion, Samford University

Jesus Is Crucified and Raised

Mark 15:33–39; 16:1–7; 1 Corinthians 15:17–19

Crucified Savior (Mark 15:33–39)
Writing to souls burdened with temptation, the author of Hebrews urges his readers to look to the example of Jesus for encouragement: “Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:18). Later he will add, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet He did not sin” (Heb. 4:15). While Hebrews proclaims that in Jesus we find the culmination of God’s revelation to humanity, the book also encourages us to ponder the humanity of Jesus.

Nowhere is the humanity of Jesus more evident than in the Gospel of Mark. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus shares openly His dread of the suffering He must endure. As the hour of His suffering approaches, we find what is perhaps the most touching scene in the Gospels. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus tells His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” and He asks them to pray for Him. Falling to the ground a little distance away, overcome with grief and fear, we hear such human words, “Abba, everything is possible for You; take this cup from Me.” Even on the cross, Jesus’ words in Mark show us His humanity. Recalling the words of Psalm 22, Jesus says in Mark only, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” and with a loud cry He breathes His last.

Living Lord (Mark 16:1–7)
The earthly ministry of Jesus was set against a background of tremendous factionalism in early Judaism. The twin perils of persecution and assimilation forced the religious leaders of the day to define more clearly the boundaries of Jewish identity.

This process of self-definition often led to one group’s accusing another of defining Judaism incorrectly, of failing to uphold properly the essentials of following God. In the parlance of the day, groups tended to think of themselves as “righteous;” those who disagreed with them were branded “sinners.” The behavior of those called “sinners” would hardly strike us as rank lawlessness or immorality. More often, disagreements focused on ritual matters rather than moral failings. But this intense focus on ritual matters left many regular Jews on the outside looking in. Those who could not keep pace with the scrupulous requirements espoused by some groups found themselves counted among the “sinners.”

While Jesus is described by the Gospel writers as being quite scrupulous in His own observance of the Law, He reacted strongly against marginalizing the common people as “sinners.” In a move that was bound to create tension with those who placed such a high priority on strict ritual purity, Jesus regularly went to the houses of “sinners” and ate meals with them. Though without sin Himself, Jesus made it a point to reach out to “sinners.”

The death Jesus died was equally as scandalizing as the life that He lived. To die on a cross was to be counted as cursed by God (Deut. 21:23). Were the story of Jesus to end with His death on the cross, one might rightly look at His death as a sign that His life had run counter to God’s designs. Death on a cross would signify that God had not approved of this life spent among “sinners.” It is here, though, that Jesus’ resurrection moves so powerfully to the fore. Through the resurrection, the Father places His stamp of approval on the life and death of the Son. The Son lived a life among sinners and died a sinner’s death. Through the resurrection, the Father sees Jesus’ outreach to sinners and proclaims, “Well done.”

Resurrection Faith (1 Cor. 15:17–19)
Because it represents the Father’s blessing on Jesus’ ministry to sinners, the resurrection remains a powerful symbol of hope for those to whom Jesus reaches out today. The Father looked approvingly on His Son’s life and death, and we who follow the Son can know with confidence that we will receive the Father’s approval as well. In the Son, we will also taste the renewal of life in the resurrection and hear the words, “Well done.”

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