Mark 15:29-39 Reflection
By Gerry Straker, 05 Apr 2020
Right now, it can feel like the world is against us, but Jesus really did have the world against him – even those crucified with him, mock him (32)!
Mark’s recorded some of what was said to teach us. The insults are ironic (with irony, the opposite is true).
- Jesus is the temple (Immanuel, God with us) who is being destroyed and rebuilt in three days in the resurrection (29).
- And so Jesus can’t come down from the cross (30). This is what Jesus said would and must happen.
- Jesus is saving others – really saving others, so he can’t save himself (31). He is giving his life as a ransom for many (10:25).
- The Christ, the King of Israel, stays on the cross (32) precisely because he is the Christ the King of Israel, and this is God’s plan for His Servant-King.
- And staying on the cross is actually how we see and believe. The risen Lord Jesus invites us to look at the cross and see and believe!
Many people think the cross of Christ is bizarre. Many people mock the weak Christ and weak Christians. And heap insults on the crucified Christ. Many people want Jesus, as it were, to come down off the cross and prove himself and do a big sign so they can believe.
But the cross of Christ is, in fact, the big sign that we need that we may see and believe. It’s a big ‘You are welcome’ sign: ‘Come in and be safe; come in and be saved.’
And this is how we know.
The darkness (33) shows that God was judging (Amos 8:9). The ninth plague was darkness, and went on for three days before the death of the firstborn, before the Passover, when the lamb died instead of the firstborn representing the family. Jesus is dying at Passover.
So God is judging Jesus. Jesus’ very personal cry makes that clear. This is Jesus’ true agony. ‘My God, My God’ he calls: the language of relationship (just as if I was to talk about my wife, my son, my daughters). This is so different from the screams of rage and pain and curses that would have been normal for people dying in this horrific way!
And so the worst pain for Jesus is the spiritual pain. Rejection for us is very painful. The deeper the relationship, the deeper the pain. As creatures we can’t imagine the depths of this pain, when this perfect relationship was sundered. The world was against Jesus. But worse for Jesus, was His Father was against Him!
And the answer to Jesus’ question ‘Why’ is this: for us. As Tim Keller puts it: ‘Jesus, the Maker of the world was being unmade.’ And it is our judgement falling on Jesus.
Some of the people mishear Jesus (like us mishearing the words of a song), and miss what is going on. They are in the dark, in the darkness. Elijah went up to heaven in a chariot, and in Jewish folklore he would come and rescue an innocent man. But the whole point of God’s plan, is that an innocent one would die in the place of the guilty!
Most people know Jesus died. But they don’t know that Jesus was judged by God, for us. And we see what that means with this curtain.
It’s very interesting that Mark doesn’t focus on the grim reality of the bruised bloodied body hanging lifeless on the cross (37) but instead we go across the city to the Temple. The beautiful, tall, thick, important temple curtain, torn in two from top to bottom, by God. The giant no entry sign torn down, the way is open.
Imagine a fly on the wall documentary of your life. A microphone on all the time, cameras trained on you all the time. How would you come out looking? Now, imagine if Google, Apple, or Amazon got access to your thoughts? (I don’t think they have yet by the way). It would be terrible!
But God does have access. And that means God is against us. But at the cross, God is against Jesus instead of us. And we can now go into God’s presence, because our judgement fell on Jesus
And the first person into God's presence, is the centurion: the Roman who was supposed to think Tiberias Caesar was the son of God, who had killed many people. He is the first to see that Jesus is the Son of God! Because he ‘heard his cry’ and ‘saw how he died’ (39) No one had ever said what Jesus said before; no one had ever died like this before.
The Word of God, the Word of Jesus cuts to his heart. He hears, sees, believes and proclaims: ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’ (39)
And so, when we hear Jesus’ cry, and see how he died, we believe and proclaim: Jesus was the Son of God. And when we come to God we find:
- the answers we’re looking for;
- And life!
Our Creator, became created, lain in a wooden manger; our Creator, became decreated, hung on a wooden cross. This is how much he loves his sinful rebellious world that has turned away from God.
The cross is the welcome sign from God: ‘Come in, be safe, be saved.’
Four words to help us proclaim this:
- Darkness: God’s Judgement
- Cry: On Jesus the Son of God
- Curtain: the way to God is open
- Centurion: Will you hear, see and believe?
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