Last Sunday Jesus interrupted an argument to find out that a man had approached some of the disciples, asking them to help his demon-possessed son. The man explained that the disciples were unable to help his son. Jesus reprimanded His disciples for their unbelief and then called for the demon-possessed boy to approach him. The father appealed to Jesus’ compassion, asking that Jesus do anything He could to help the boy. Jesus noted the man’s waning faith, who then confessed his unbelief, and asked Jesus to help him grow in faith. Jesus commanded the demon to leave the boy forever and with a shriek, the demon left, and the boy lay motionless. Jesus took the boy by the hand, raised him, and the boy stood whole. Jesus was willing to help this boy, in spite of the level of belief found in others. From this lesson we saw the disappointment of placing belief in the wrong person or people. As believers, we must refresh our belief in Jesus to maintain spiritual vitality.
(Write on board) Do you believe in Easter? Yes, No, Why? This was an email closing line I used years ago and one response I received was: “I believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ but I do not believe in the pagan rituals and commercialization so common today.” I was impressed with such a frank and honest answer from a colleague.
It so happens that our lesson today is about the death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have jumped ahead to Mark 15 for this Easter passage but we will return to Mark 10 next week.
Read Mark 15:27-28 “Crucified” Read from your KJV bible as v.28 is not in your quarterly.
Some modern English Bible translations move verse 28 out of the text and into a footnote because the verse does not appear in a number of Greek manuscripts. The KJV includes v.29. “And He was numbered with the transgressors.” Read Isaiah 53:12. Centuries earlier the prophet Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would die among the rebels.
Here, just as Isaiah forecast, we see Jesus innocently crucified between two criminals. As we know, crucifixion is one of the most tortuous punishments ever invented. I cannot imagine hanging on a cross until death comes.
Why would Jesus face death, particularly crucifixion, for us? To show His love for us by dying for our sins. God reaching down to us is a distinction between God and false religions. World religions try to reach the Almighty, but God has already come to us.
What is Christianity? A religion or a relationship. Relationship.
Read Mark 15:29-32 “Mocked”
Three guys hanging on crosses and near death, what are the audience and those passing by doing? Lots of cruel insults and mocking. The Jewish leaders had successfully stirred up a mob mentality among the many citizens and Passover visitors to Jerusalem.
What was the taunt “would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days” referring to? Jesus had told His disciples, concerning the temple, that one day “not one stone will be left upon another-all will be torn down.” More to the point, Jesus had also spoken of destroying and raising up “this temple” in reference to the crucifixion and resurrection of His body. The mockers did not have a clue as to what he was talking about and used the phrase as an insult of His powerlessness.
Did the people really want to believe in Jesus? Why or why not? The Jewish leaders certainly did not but maybe some of the folks had given thought to believing Jesus. It seems the Jewish leaders used Jesus’ claim that He was the Messiah and King of Israel not only to mock Him but to show the crowd that Jesus could not possibly be the long awaited Messiah. Many of the taunts were misquotes of Jesus’ words intended to challenge Him to prove His claims of deity.
What do today’s critics of Jesus say about Him? Out of date, behind the times, accepts good deeds but no need of repentance, does not answer prayers, does not hold to accountability, and sin is not a big deal.
What do these critics of today have wrong about Jesus? Pretty much everything. Like the religious leaders that accused Jesus of saying He was God, without even considering that He was God. Sin is still sin and a big deal even if legislative actions say it is legal.
Read Mark 15:33-36 “Forsaken”
What are three actions that happened in these verses? (1.) Darkness came over the whole land, (2.) Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (3.) Some were waiting to see if Elijah would miraculously come take down Jesus. Can you close your eyes and visualize this scene? Dirty, smelly old hillside, three men dying on three crosses, the crowd shouting mocking jeers and then total darkness. Total darkness! No torches would have been burning at noon, the street lights would not have been on at noon. I think it would have been an eerie darkness.
What is the significance of the darkness? Darkness fell over the area for three hours in the middle of the day. It was noon, Jesus had already been on the cross three hours. Perhaps there is a connection between the darkness and the Passover event. God sent three days of darkness as one of His plaques against the Egyptians. This plaque was followed by death of the firstborn. Here, darkness preceded the death of God’s only Son, which by the way, made redemption possible for everyone. Whatever the significance, the absence of light was a supernatural act of God in reaction to what was happening at the cross.
What is the significance of Jesus’ plea to God? One view of Jesus’ cry emphasizes that in this moment of Jesus’ life, the sins of the world’s people, past, present, and future bore heavily on the sinless Lamb of God. As the Just One took on Himself the full wrath deserved by sinners, the Father turned away from looking upon the scene. Mark records only this one sentence from Jesus while on the cross. However, Luke records Jesus’ last words in Luke 23:46, “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit.” Those words indicate that Jesus did not believe His Father was absent. Rather, His cry was a prayer for the Father to draw near and give Him help to endure until victory came.
What was the significance of the people waiting for a miracle from Elijah? The people misunderstood Jesus’ cry of “Eloi.” They thought Jesus was calling for Elijah to help Him. Many Jews believed that the Old Testament prophet Elijah would come to life again to prepare for the Messiah’s appearance. The guy who offered Jesus a drink likely was not trying to help Him. Rather, he wanted to see if Elijah would come to take Jesus down from the cross. Perhaps this person had heard about Jesus’ miracles and hoped to see something spectacular.
Read Mark 15:37-39 “Victorious”
How was Jesus death far-reaching both at the cross and beyond? The curtain in the sanctuary was torn from top to bottom, the centurion who witnessed Jesus’ death confessed that Jesus really was the Son of God and Jesus’ death ultimately gives life today.
What changed when the temple curtain was torn? The wall of separation between God and sinful humanity was torn away. Now, every person can come directly into the presence of God, rather than just the high priests. The Pope became a Baptist.
Was the centurion saved that day? Some believe that he was simply recognizing Jesus as an extraordinary human being who refused to lash out at scoffers and died the cruelest death with remarkable dignity. A more likely understanding is that the centurion confessed more than he knew. He had limited understanding of who Jesus was, but what he saw and heard of Jesus during the crucifixion proved that this One who was said to be the King of the Jews was not merely a son of gods but was the Son of God. Having been stationed in Jerusalem, he may have heard the accounts of Jesus’ compassionate, miraculous works. He may have become convinced that Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be. If so, the centurion’s confession was the beginning of a new road of faith for this Roman soldier. It can be the same way for all who open their hearts and minds to the power of Jesus’ atoning death for their sins.
Summary: Jesus’ death bridges the gap between God and humanity caused by our sin.
· Jesus willingly faced death on our behalf.
· Jesus ignored challenges to His identity and power so He could provide our salvation.
· Jesus endured God’s wrath as our sin-bearer.
· Jesus’ death gives all who believe in Him access to the Father.
Pray, giving thanks to our Heavenly Father for Jesus and ask that You would give us the strength to be the example You would have us be so others can be led to know Jesus.