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Suffering from Insults

Mark 15:31-32

It was a bizarre scene.  Jesus the Messiah – long promised and eagerly awaited by Israel (Luke 2:30-32) – was crucified because the spiritual leaders of Israel hated Him.  He had the spiritual authority they craved but did not have (Matthew 27:18; Mark 1:27).  All public executions attract the curious and self-righteous who make themselves feel even more righteous by showing their disgust for the condemned.  But it was not only the passing public who threw verbal abuse at Jesus; the religious establishment added their vocal punches.  Their pitch was about His claim to be Saviour and King (J


Mark 15:33-34

Three hours into Christ's crucifixion, an eerie darkness cast its shadow over Israel.  It was not just to hide the suffering of Jesus; it was a cosmic sign of God's judgement on human sin (Amos 8:9-10).  That strange silence was pierced by the voice of Jesus, calling out in the moment of ultimate desolation.  The first, and only, time the Trinity experienced separation from each other had now come with great intensity.  The word 'Father' was, for that moment, impossible.  As Jesus became sin for us, His appeal was simply to God, His God who was so distant, for the only time in eternity.

Misunderstood to the Last

Mark 15:35-37

Listening and hearing are two different things.  The bystanders heard the 'God' word but because it was considered blasphemous to say it (preferring to use 'The Name'), they assumed that Jesus was calling Elijah (a similarly sounding word – 'Eli' v 'Eloi').  They thought Jesus was calling for help from one of the Old Testament 'saints', although calling the dead is strictly forbidden (Deuteronomy 18:9-13).  One person thought He wanted the drugged wine.  Another cynically just wanted to leave Jesus alone.

Torn in Two

Mark 15:38-39

The final moment, when life tore out of the body of Jesus (Mark 15:33-37), was mirrored in the temple curtain.  That heavy fabric obstruction was placed between the 'holy' and 'most holy' places of the temple.  Only the high priest could go behind that curtain, and then only once a year accompanied by sacrificial blood - to make atonement for the sins of the nation.  Behind that curtain was the space for God's presence.  It was not that God was contained in that space, for He is everywhere; but He chose to reserve a special place on earth as a reminder that He is a holy God.  Because of the

Godly Women

Mark 15:40-41

Caring, but cautious.  That may be a reasonable way to describe these women, but they were much more than caring; they had devoted themselves to the Master, helping in the domestic tasks that often defeat itinerant preachers.  At the end of the day, when the disciples had disappeared, the women remained at Calvary at the end of the afternoon.  Matthew reports that many women were there (Matthew 27:55).   Sad figures undoubtedly, but they were no threat to the Romans or religious authorities; in those days, women had no opinion and no voice.  A nuisance possibly, but threat, no ...

The Voice of Conscience

Mark 15:42-43

It had been a long Friday.  The agonising procession to Calvary terminated in torturous nails hammered though Jesus' flesh - and all the insults that added to the injury of crucifixion.  Worst of all was the unique separation of the Godhead (Mark 15:34), marked by darkness as our sins were punished in Christ's body.  The triumphant cry, "it is finished!" signalled the end and His body hung with no more breath (John 19:30).  But, as the afternoon pushed on into evening, the daylight returned; with the Sabbath only hours away, Jewish law demanded a burial.

Identifying with Jesus

Mark 15:44-47

Pilate was shocked to hear that Jesus was already dead; significantly prematurely compared with normal crucifixions.  By Roman law the bodies were left hanging on the cross until they had died, which could take up to four days.  Death was the end-product of the beatings, internal haemorrhage, increasing weakness which prevented breathing - leading to asphyxia and cardiac arrest.  The execution squad could only leave the site after the criminals had died, so they often increased the bleeding by breaking large bones in the legs or spearing the abdomen.  If it sounds grotesque and macabre, it

Being Led Better Than We Know

Mark 16:1-3

The Sabbath, with its corpse-handling restrictions, had ended as the stars came out on the Saturday night.  But practical safety demanded that the women wait until first light on Sunday before they could fulfil their desire to honour Jesus and anoint His body.  It was a token gesture for Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had already encased Jesus body with 34 kilograms of embalming spices under tightly wound linen strips (John 19:39-40).  But it was their own personal way to say that they loved Jesus, like leaving flowers on a grave or accident site.  It was simply an act of devotion, the o

Faithless Fear

Mark 16:4-5

The women had come to the tomb at dawn on the third day since Jesus was crucified.  They came with expensive spices to anoint His body.  Probably they had been awake all night collecting the embalming fragrances, and riddled with grief.  It was only as they picked their way through the breaking darkness that they wondered how they would get into the tomb, which had been sealed with a very heavy millstone (Mark 16:1-3).  They did not know but they kept walking to the burial site.

Just As He Said

Mark 16:6-7

The women who had come to Jesus' tomb in the half light of early dawn were petrified by the appearance of a white and shining angel seated on the rolled-back stone covering the entrance to the burial cave.  They thought their mission would be secret, nobody else would be present (Mark 16:1-3).  They were shattered by the unexpected man who spoke about Jesus being alive.