Mark 15 Reading

Mark 15:16-47

16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion.  17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him.  18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!”  19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him.  20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.
21 And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.  22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull).  23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.  24 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.  25 And it was the third hour when they crucified him.  26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.”  27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left.  28   29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,  30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!”  31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.  32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.
33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.  34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.”  36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.”  37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.  38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”  40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.  41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath,  43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead.  45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph.  46 And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.  47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

A few thoughts for meditation:

1) The suffering of Christ is well documented in the gospel accounts. He was abandoned by his disciples and unjustly condemned in his religious and civil trials to death by crucifixion. He was beaten by the religious leaders in his first trial, then tortured further by the Roman soldiers both physically and mentally after his second trial. The physical pain of flogging, the crown of thorns, and being beaten with reeds left him so weak that he was unable to carry his cross to the execution, which was the normal custom. Simon of Cyrene was forced to carry it for him. He refused to drink any wine to dull the pain. After nailing his wrists and feet to the Cross and propping him up, they gambled for his clothes. Though correctly labelled “King of the Jews” he hung between two robbers. And all around mocked him, the religious leaders, soldiers, and even the robbers dying with him. They challenged him to perform miracles again to prove his identity as the Messiah, not unlike skeptics today. But Jesus was performing another miracle instead; the God-man was dying for the sins of his people. Worse than all the physical and emotional torture was the spiritual agony. For three hours darkness fell over the land, and Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He quote Psalm 22 in his prayer. For the first time in his life, he was cut off from fellowship with the Father, when he became our sin-bearer and suffered the wrath of God in our place. Luther once said, “God forsaken of God, who can understand it”? It is indeed a mystery and yet our whole salvation depends upon the beautiful mystery; God the Son becoming a man and doing for us what we could never do for ourselves. So when you study all the dimensions of Christ’s suffering in body and soul, remember, he did it for you. You were the one who was suppose to hang on that Cross for your sins. Consider the horror of what your sins deserve, but also the great mercy you received instead by God providing a Savior in your place.
2) The death of Christ is so remarkable that Mark took great pains to make sure we understand that Christ really did die. He documented the trials and punishments. He cited witnesses; Simon (father of Alexander and Rufus), the centurion, the many women. and Joseph of Arimathea. Other gospel accounts provide more witnesses. Any who heard the tale back then could find these witnesses to verify all the story. He really died and was buried, and locked into the tomb. The Christian faith is a historical faith. If the history is not true, then the religion is not true and your faith is in vain. The testimony we have in Scripture is eye-witness testimony. God really did become a man in the person of Jesus and died on the Cross for the sins of his people, and his body remained dead until the third day confirming that he really was dead. These details were carefully recorded not just to confirm the facts, but to strengthen your faith. You can say with Paul,  he “loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). And what is the appropriate response to such a God and Savior?
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