Mark 15:33-47                                                        Saturday, April 7, 2012
Key Verse: 15:34                                                     Kevin Jesmer NIU UBF

“And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)”

Dear Lord Jesus Christ. This is your passion week. Lord, I thank you for the cross that you bore so that we may be forgiven and live a new life. Where would I be without the forgiveness that you bring? Where would I be without the newness of life that you make possible? Where would I be without your hope? Lord, we love you because you first loved us. When we ask you, “How much do you love us?” You stretch out your arms on the cross and say, “This much”. Lord, I can wake up and face each new day because of your love and your power manifest through your cross. May the whole world know your love and grace and mercy. May they see the glory of God, through Jesus who suffered and died and rose again for us. Please grant me one word of God through this passage. I pray in Jesus’ holy and mighty name. Amen!

1. Jesus’ Cry On The Cross (33-34).

Verses 33-34 reads, “At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

On the day Jesus died, there was darkness at noon for three hours. Why is this? In nature the most glorious thing is the majesty and the glory of the sun. Many pagan religions worshipped the sun. But there could be two reasons why the sun did not give its light. The first reason is that Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross is full of the glory of God. It vividly reveals God’s love and justice. It is the victory of God over evil and death. This death of the Son of God is so glorious that its glory outshines the sun. The second reason is that all of nature could not bear to see the unjust treatment that Jesus had to bear. He is the sinless one and yet he died a more painful death than even the criminals. He was unjustly tried and crucified. The sun, not giving its light, reveals that all of creation could not bear to witness the injustice that was poured out on Jesus.

In his dying moments, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (34). This fulfilled prophecy (Ps 22:1) and also expressed the pain of carrying the sins of the world and feeling separated from God. The fact that Jesus felt the separation from the Father vividly shows us that Jesus was in fact carrying all of the sins of the world upon himself on the cross. The Holy God could not be in the presence of such immense sin as was being “piled” up the Sacrificial Lamb, Jesus and so, for a moment, the Father turned his face away. This was agonizing to Jesus, but was part of his cross to bear. The statement that Jesus bore all of our sins in his body, on the cross for our sakes, is not just a philosophy, or a nice Christian cliché. It is a fact, displayed by Jesus crying out on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” There are several verses that bring out this life giving truth. 1 Peter 2:24 reads, “’He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” and Isaiah 53:5 reads, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” We can trust that all of our sins have been forgiven when we put our faith and trust in Jesus and the Gospel. I pray that the people of our nation and the students on our campus’ may repent of their sins and come to Jesus on the cross and be forgiven of their sins.

2. A Torn Curtain, A Centurion’s Confession (35-41).

Verses 35-41 read, “When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” 36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. 37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” 40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.”

Some misunderstood that Jesus was calling Elijah. To them the crucifixion was just some interesting spectacle and they waited to see something interesting and supernatural to happen. Such people were only spectators and observers, not committing themselves to Jesus nor understanding the immensity of what Jesus accomplishing for them right before their eyes. How blind they were! How much grace they were forfeiting! Some offered him wine vinegar on a sponge. Maybe they felt a tinge of compassion on him as he suffered there hanging before heaven and earth. It would take an incredibly cold hearted person to not have compassion on those enduring the pain of crucifixion.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. This was not a defeat. It was the finish line. Jesus had accomplished the first step of his mission on earth, to die as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He did it. Satan tried his best make sure that this moment did not happen. He had bruised Jesus heal. (Gen 3:15) But soon his head will be crushed, in a spiritual sense, when Jesus rose again. It is like Satan was put into “check mate” in a game of chess. Do you know that feeling? It is the moment you feel like you are helpless. The prisoners are being set free from Satan’s dark dungeon. There is nothing he could do now to avoid the upcoming resurrection. Jesus death is a victory, not a tragedy.

The temple curtain was torn in two. Up to that time, the Most Holy Place was separated from the common people. Only the Chief Priest that was voted for in that year, could enter. If anyone else tried to do so that might be killed. But now through Jesus’ death on the cross, we have been forgiven and been made holy. Since we are made holy through faith in the blood of Jesus, we have a privilege to enter in to the presence of God. We can now come before the throne of God and pray and worship and dwell in his presence receiving his live and grace and truth and wisdom. We can come before him with all kinds of prayer requests and he delights in our presence. That is why the curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. It signifies access to God through Christ’s atoning death.

The centurion there confessed, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (39). He never saw a man die like Jesus did. All the others were cursing, crying, delirious and groaning. Jesus was in his right mind. He was he was full of love. He was in prayer. He was caring about his mother and his disciples while he was on the cross. He was actually praying for the forgiveness of those who were perpetrating such a crime on him. He lived as a man and died as a God. He is the Savior or the world and this is revealed through his suffering and death and subsequent resurrection.

We also learn that there is power in the crucified Christ to melt any heart. This centurion was the leader of 100 battle hardened Roman soldiers. He had seen so much death and suffering. His heart was hard. But when he saw Jesus suffering and dying on the cross and praying for the likes of him to be forgiven, his heart was strangely moved. We may think that our own hearts are too hardened by the hardships of life and the deceitfulness of sin, but no way! Our hearts can be melted by the love of God. We may think that some people can never be changed. But this is not true. If this centurion can be changed then anyone can be changed. They just need to behold Jesus suffering and dying in their place. We need to help them to focus on the gospel. That is one reason Easter is so important.

Jesus’ death opened the way to God for Gentiles like the centurion. Salvation is not just for the Jews. It is not just for a select group of people. Salvation is open for everyone who believes. John 3:16 reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Many women who cared for Jesus also witnessed his death. These women were so faithful. Many of the disciples were shaking in their boots. Some had abandoned Jesus. One betrayed. One denied. But the women were there. How lovely is their pure devotion to the Lord. I don’t understand it, but women give their hearts to Jesus. They love Jesus so much.  It is something about a woman’s heart. May God raise up such faithful and devoted women as these in our churches and across our land!

3. Jesus Was Buried (42-47).

Look at verses 42-47, “It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.”

Joseph of Arimathea boldly went to Pilate asking for Jesus’ body, and it was given to him. It was not easy for him to do this. He was a prominent member of the Jewish ruling council. If he identified with Jesus he would be criticized and ostracized. He would be rejected. But he did not care. He was waiting for the Kingdom of God. He knew that Jesus was the Messiah, and so he stuck his neck out. He was willing to face persecution. He was also willing to sacrifice his own tomb cut out of the rock. Today that would cost a lot of money. (Today it may be the equivalent of $5,000.) But God would use that for the setting of the resurrection. Are we willing to stand up and identify with Jesus and face persecution? Are we willing to offer up something of value for Jesus so that God could use it to bring forth amazing works of God?

Two women also saw where he was buried. They would take note of it, because they were making plans to go and anoint Jesus’ body. These women of faith just won’t quit. Their love for Jesus went on and on. They must have been forgiven of so much in order to love so much. I pray that my love for Jesus may grow to such immense proportions.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you died on the cross to take our sins upon yourself and give us access to the Father’s kingdom. You are worthy of eternal thanks and praise.

One Word: Jesus’ death opened the way to God

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