Gospel text 15:21-39
Simon of Cyrene was forced to carry the cross possibly as an act of racism. The execution site was called ‘Golgotha’ meaning ‘place of the skull’. They offered Jesus wine mixed with myrrh but he refused it. They stripped Jesus of his garments and gambled over who would win them. They put the inscription above the cross ‘King of the Jews’. Two robbers were crucified on either side of Jesus. Many people insulted Jesus telling him to save himself. At noon it went dark. Jesus cried out ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’ They thought he was calling Elijah, a prophet from the Old Testament to help him. Jesus died at 3pm and the curtain in the temple was torn open. The army officer at the bottom of the cross declared ‘Truly, this man was the Son of God’.
Why Jesus’ Death was Important to Mark
· In Mark’s account of the crucifixion, Jesus fulfills many prophesies, which proves to Mark, and his readers, who would have been familiar with the Old Testament that Jesus was the Messiah.
· Jesus refused a drug offered to him to relieve the pain, showing that for humans to be forgiven, Jesus had to accept the full suffering.
· Mark shows that some people believed that Jesus was calling to Elijah, who they believed would return just before the Messiah, which also helps prove to Mark’s readers that Jesus was the Messiah.
· In the time when Mark was writing, many people would have been crucified by the Romans. Mark wanted to emphasise, not Jesus’ physical pain, but how he bore his suffering. Mark stresses this to his readers at the time, as they would have faced much persecution for being Christian, so Jesus was set as an example.
· Crucifixion was especially a punishment for political criminals and slaves, which Romans could not be sentenced to, showing Jesus’ position and persecution in those times.
Why the Crucifixion is Important to Christians Today
· There was a gap between humans and God which had come about through original sin, and Christians believe that this gap was only bridged by Jesus’ willing sacrifice to forgive our sins.
· By returning Jesus to God, humans have also returned to God.
· God gave up his only son, his flesh image, to pay for our sins, and so humans were forgiven at Jesus’ crucifixion.
· Jesus’ willing sacrifice and complete suffering sets an example for Christians today that they should be expected to give up and suffer anything for their beliefs, as Jesus did for our sake.
· Jesus died, as he had lived, with sinners and outcasts, showing Christians that even up to the moment of his death, Jesus was there for all people.
· It was only after Jesus’ death that many people began to believe that he really was the Messiah, therefore the crucifixion is an important part of Jesus’ life for all Christians.
How Jesus’ Death Fulfills Old Testament Prophecies
· Some people believe that Jesus called out to Elijah, who they believed would return just before the Messiah.
· Romans played dice for Jesus’ clothes at his Crucifixion, as prophesied in Psalm 22
· Jesus did not say a word in defence throughout his trial, which is prophesied in Isaiah.
· “They tear at my hands and feet” – Psalm 22: Jesus’ hands and feet were nailed to the cross.
· He was surrounded by evil people who scorned and mocked him, as said in Psalm 22.
Different Opinions about the Crucifixion
· Mark shows Pilate in a very good light, which seems to relieve him of blame. He may have done this to earn favour from the Romans, who were persecuting the Christians at the time.
· Christians today believe that Pilate did not oppose the crowd enough and therefore did not do as much as he could have to save Jesus, whom he knew had done nothing wrong.
· Mark shows that many of the crowd demanded Jesus’ crucifixion, and that it is therefore their fault.
· Some Christians agree with this and believe that all humans should accept the blame for Jesus’ death.
· Other Christians believe that It was the Jewish leaders in the crowd who were convincing the people to crucify Jesus, and therefore that it was their fault as well.
d) “The death of Jesus was the most important event in his life.”
o All his life was pointing to it.
o It was the reason God sent him.
o Without his death, we would not be saved.
o The resurrection was even more important.
o His teaching was more important.
o The things he did (miracles) were more important