Devotional # 41. 7/8/13. Jesus’ crucifixion.
This week’s Reading: Mark 15: 33-47.
Introduction. Last week we reviewed the final trial of Jesus, His walking the Villa Dolorosa, being hanged on the cross and His conversation with the two thieves. This week we will discuss what happened on the cross.
vv. 33-34. The timeframe from the “sixth hour” to the “ninth hour” was from noon until 3:00 PM (Source 1). The “darkness over the whole land” was important because it was a mark of God’s judgment (according to Isaiah 5:30; 13:10-11; Joel 2:1-2; Amos 5:20; Zeph. 1:14-15, etc). Then Jesus says one of the seven phrases from the cross. He asked,“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (also found in Mt. 27:46). The Father must forsake the Son because He is holy and righteous and must judge sin. Since sin separates us from God in every way (physically, mentally and spiritually) Jesus took this on Himself. This doesn’t mean that there was a disconnection from Jesus being God but it was a cut in communication. Sin severs communication with God, it was what we go through when we sin but excruciatingly magnified since this was the first time in eternity when the Father had forsaken the Son.
vv. 35-36. The people misunderstood what Jesus said, which in Hebrew was “Eloi, Eloi“, and thought He was “calling for Elijah“. Some Jews believed Elijah would appear and save them when in need. Here we see someone wanted to see if Elijah would appear and offered him wine on a sponge. And according to John 19:29-30 it was because Jesus was thirsty that He received the wine. So with the two Scriptures combined it is possible that when Jesus had said what they thought was Elijah and when He said He was thirsty, someone brought Him the wine for both reasons.
vv. 37-39. Here in v. 37 when Jesus “cried out” He was saying “Father, into your hands I commend My spirit” (from Luke 23:46). Guzik explains, “This shows that Jesus gave up His life when He wanted to and how He wanted to. No one took His life from Him; He gave it up when His work was finished. Jesus is not a victim we should pity, but a conqueror we should admire” (Source 2). This is crucial because at this point Jesus had taken away everyone’s sin! However, His resurrection is what Christianity is built upon, it gives us proof that He has power to give us life after death.
Also see Luke 23:44-45 for the temple veil tearing when the sky was darkened. This is awesome! The significance is that the temple veil separated the Holy of Holies (where God was) from the rest of the congregation. When Jesus died He made it so anyone could have access to God! Also notice it tore from “top to bottom” because it came from God in heaven (top) to man on earth (bottom) not vice versa because that would be man working up to God.
The centurion acknowledging Jesus was both a “Man” and the “Son of God” is important because he was a Gentile and a soldier.
vv. 40-41. It’s funny that many people think that the Bible is sexist. That it puts women down but the fact that the Bible tells their stories is uncharacteristic of literature of its time. Beyond that God uses women in exceptional ways such as here, where these women are eye-witnesses. Although in this culture their testimony was not admissible in court God chose to have them view the crucifixion and empty grave.
vv. 42-45. Here Joseph of Arimathea asks for Jesus’ body. Pilate is surprised that Jesus is already dead which John 19:31-37 helps us understand. There were prophesies that not one of Jesus’ bones would be broken but because Jews weren’t allowed to remain on the cross (see Deuteronomy 21:23) into Sabbath the Romans soldiers would break their legs. This stopped the prisoners from lifting themselves up to get breath since crucifixion is ultimately death by asphyxiation. So God was merciful and fulfilling His word in having Jesus die so He could be buried and not have His legs broken. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were part of the Sanhedrin but closet believers in Christ. There are traditions that Joseph was a relative of Jesus’ but either way he paid to have Jesus buried in his grave. At this time rich people would buy their grave and this is important because if anyone wanted to find the body of Jesus it would be easy to determine exactly what grave was His.
vv. 46-47. So they lay Jesus in the grave and Mary Magdalene and Mary the mom of Joses saw where the grave was. This is important because as mentioned above when the women return and Jesus has resurrected they know exactly where to go and then they go tell the disciples.
Conclusion. The amazing things about Jesus’ crucifixion could fill many books (and have!) but to me at this time the centurion stands out. He didn’t grow up a Jew and was trained to show no awe or mercy to a prisoner. The centurion saw the ‘spiritual-natural’ things (Jesus’ innocence, His compassion, the sky growing dark, possibly heard about the veil tearing) and knew they must come from God. He recognized that a person, both fully God and fully Man, had died and not without purpose but for the sins of man. I pray that you and I, whether Israeli or not, have the faith and understanding to see the proof that Jesus died for our sins and that we accept Him as the only way to heaven.
Source 1: John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1500.