The Marred, Mocked, and Crucified King: Part II (Mark 15:33-41)

The Marred Mocked and Crucified King: Part II (Mark 15:33-41) – YouTube

The World Perceiving the Cross

We come again to our text, where we see Jesus, who, after having been viciously marred by the mistreatment of men and mercilessly mocked by them, now hangs upon the cross as one cursed by God deserving to die. From the Jew’s perspective He was struck down by God and afflicted for something He personally did.[1]

It is an undeniable fact of history that 2,000 years ago there lived a Man called Jesus of Nazareth. Now, they are rare, but there are some who say that there never was such a Person. To them He is merely a concoction in the minds of men. There is a biblical principle if you ever encounter such a person, it says to not throw what is holy to the dogs, and to not cast your pearls before such swine.[2] They will have demonstrated that they are beyond reason. The world at large attests to the fact that there was indeed a Person from Nazareth named, Jesus. The world also attests to the fact that this Jesus of Nazareth not only lived but died under the reign of Pontius Pilate.

Renowned 1st century, non-believing, Roman historian, Tacitus, spoke of Jesus as a Man called Christus. He records that this One called Christus “suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus.”[3]

The prominent 1st century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, also a non-believer, made remarks as well in his work of history titled, The Antiquities of the Jews. Josephus records:

“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”[4]

Now, this portion of his work is heavily debated because many believe it is mingled with Christian interpolation. Meaning many are of the persuasion that Christian thoughts have been put in there that do not represent the mind and belief of Josephus. Some believe this portion to be entirely authentic without any tampering whatsoever, and some believe that this entire portion is a Christian forgery. This final view, however, is unlikely considering that Josephus spoke of the death of Jesus’ brother James by referring to him as “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ.”[5]

The greatest thing we should understand when we consider this heavily debated segment from the historical work of Flavius Josephus, is that even if a person were to take away all of the perceived interpolations, they are left with the fact that a Man named Jesus, who was called Christ, was condemned to die on the cross by Pontius Pilate.

From the world’s perspective a mere Man hung upon that cross. From the world’s perspective a mere Man accomplished nothing, but to die a humiliating and excruciating death. From the world’s perspective the cross is sheer stupidity. It is an incident of idiocy; an act of absurdity. As Paul says, “The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”[6]

            It is the power of God to us who are being saved because we know that the One who hung upon that cross was more then just a Man. He is God clothed in flesh. As the 2nd century church father, Melito of Sardis said:

“He that hung up the earth in space was Himself hanged up; He that fixed the heavens was fixed with nails; He that bore up the earth was born upon a tree; the Lord of all was subjected to ignominy (That is, He was subjected to public shame and disgrace) in a naked body – God put to death! …In order that He might not be seen, the luminaries turned away, and the day became darkened – because they slew God, who hung naked on the tree….This is He who made the heaven and earth, and in the beginning, together with the Father, fashioned man; who was announced by means of the law and the prophets; who put on a bodily form in the virgin; who was hanged upon the tree.”[7]

Upon the cross Emmanuel hung to save His people from their sin.[8] God with Us did not needlessly die, He accomplished something on our behalf, so that we who are dead in Adam, cutoff from the life of God and incapable of working our way back to Him, may be brought near to Him by His blood, and made alive in Him through faith alone in His vicarious death on the cross as the sinless Son of God.[9]

It was J.C. Ryle that said:

“If Christ had not gone to the cross and suffered in our stead, the just for the unjust, there would not have been a spark of hope for us. There would have been a mighty gulf between ourselves and God, which no man ever could have passed.”

            Our portion this morning deals with the event which all of Scripture points to, Christ justifying ungodly people by the sacrifice of Himself, so that God might be both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.[10] We have before us the purpose of the cross, and the work it accomplishes.

The Hour For Which Christ Came

Mark has told us that “it was the third hour when they crucified Him.”[11] This means that Jesus was high and lifted up for all to see on Golgotha at 9:00am on that Friday morning. All passing along the highway would be able to see the One who claimed to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God, bloodied and nailed to a tree.

What did many do? They mocked the crucified King! Matthew records them saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”[12] “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”[13]

What are Christ’s words to such mockery and scorn? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[14] The fact that He is on the cross is the demonstration of Him being the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Moses and all the prophets spoke of Him. He is the suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 who was put to death for the sin of others who deserved to die.[15]  

Mark tells us that:

33 When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour.

In John 12:27, Jesus knowing that this hour was at hand, said:

“My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose, I came to this hour.”

What did He come to do? He came to this hour to drink the cup of God’s wrath which we all deserve for our sin against Him. He came to satisfy every ounce of God’s justice towards the sin of His people upon Himself. His willingness to endure this was on display in Gethsemane’s garden when He said, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done.”[16] It was the only way in which we could be justly saved from God and reconciled to Him.

God will not just forget about sin. The soul that sins must forever die.[17] It is not merely that death for sin is what God determined, but that death for sin is what His character and nature demands. God is not subservient to justice, He is just. He is a good God and there is no darkness in Him.

For us to be forgiven, our sin must be justly dealt with. For us to live to experience such forgiveness, we need someone else to bear the penalty that we deserve, because the penalty is one of eternal consequence. In other words, one cannot just pay their own penalty and then experience the forgiveness of God. There is no end to the penalty because all sin is an eternal offense deserving an eternal consequence because it has been committed against One of eternal worth. For us to be forgiven, we need One of eternal worth to take our place and experience for us what we rightly deserve.

For God so loved the world He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have life eternal.[18] What did He give His Son to be so that we may have life? He sent Him to be our propitiation.[19] Meaning Christ came to receive the full outpouring of God’s wrath in our stead. He became a Man obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.[20] Hebrews 2:14,17 says:

14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil…17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

When 12:00pm hit as Jesus was on that cross, the sun was obscured, and darkness fell over the whole land for three hours because God had appeared, not to save His Son from sinful people, but to punish Him in their place.[21] As John MacArthur says, “The darkness at Calvary did not represent the absence of God, but His holy terrifying presence.”[22]

Mark tells us that:

“34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, He is calling for Elijah.” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” 

            Elijah is not coming to take Jesus down from the cross. Jesus is directing their attention to Psalm 22, which tragically depicts a man begging for God to help Him, but God refusing to do so though He has helped all others who have trusted in Him. Psalm 22:1-6 says:

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest.Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. In You our fathers trusted; They trusted and You delivered them. To You they cried out and were delivered; In You they trusted and were not disappointed. But I am a worm and not a man,
A reproach of men and despised by the people.”

Some suggest that the Father turned His back on His Son because He could not stand to see Him suffer upon that cross. I say that such people have turned their back on the Scripture, and either do not know what it says, or they know what it says, but they do not like it.

God would not come to the aid of His Son. Why? The Father did not turn His back on His only Son because of what had become of Him, but because of what He had become. He had become a curse for us.[23] He had become our sin by taking our account upon Himself.[24] As Peter says, “He bore our sin on His body on the cross.”[25] As Isaiah foretold:

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him…He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due10 But the Lord was pleased
to crush Him, putting Him to grief…”[26]

Jesus Christ, being the eternal Son of God that became a Man, suffered our eternal penalty upon Himself. It pleased the Lord to crush Him not because of some sadistic pleasure, but because through the vicarious death of His Son, the ungodly will be justified. People will be made right with Him through trust in the propitiatory work of Christ. Isaiah 53:11 says:

“As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.”

Romans 5:6-9 says:

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”

Access to God through Christ

We should recall that Jesus claimed to be exclusive in salvation. Meaning He is the only way to God. He said in John 14:6:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life; and no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Access to God through Christ alone is demonstrated by what Mark describes next:

“37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. 38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”

            Before Christ breathes His very last breath before willingly giving up His Spirit,[27] He declared in John 19:30, “It is finished!” Meaning that the sin debt of His people had been paid in full. Christ had sufficiently satisfied the wrath of God upon Himself, and shed His eternal blood to cover the sins of all of those, throughout all of time, who turn from their sin and trust in His substitutionary work on the cross as the eternal Son of God who became a Man and humbled Himself to the point of death in their place on thecross.

The proof that Christ made an actual atonement for sin, and provided the way to God for us who were cutoff from His life and incapable of working our way back to Him, is seen in the temple veil.

            Anyone who understands the Old Testament understands the significance of this event. When God dwelt among His people, He did so within the confines of the tabernacle. The tabernacle consisted of an outer court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. God would dwell in the Holy of Holies. There therefore, needed to be a large veil that permanently separated where God was from the rest of the people. It served as a continual reminder that people were cutoff from the life of God and separated from Him because of sin.

            The only person who was ever allowed in the Holy of Holies was the high priest, and he was only allowed to go in there once a year on the Day of Atonement, and he was only allowed to go in there with the blood of an animal to sprinkle it upon the mercy seat which sat upon the Ark of the Covenant. This signified that the required sacrifice had to be made to atone for sin.

            For nearly 1500 years since the establishment of the tabernacle, not one single animal sacrifice ever took away the need for the veil. It served as a reminder of sin and pointed to the need for a greater sacrifice. It pointed to Christ, our Passover Lamb, who would shed His precious blood to atone our sin. Who put away our sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

Christ, however, is not only our Passover Lamb, He is our great High Priest. Hebrews 9:11-12 says:

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”

Why was the veil torn? Access to God had been accomplished in Christ. Our eternal redemption had been purchased with the eternal blood of His Son, which He willing shed for us.

Mark says:

39 When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

This was no mere Man on the cross! This was God Himself. He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor, that we might become rich through His poverty.

The Amazing Love of God

Again, we have before us purpose of the cross and the work it accomplishes on our behalf. Holy justice is satisfied, and eternal love is on full display. Do we truly see the severity of our sin to God? Look to the cross with the Christ upon it. Do we see God’s great love for us? Look to the cross with the Christ upon it.

Truly we love God because He first loved us, and gave us His Son to die for our sin, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to Himself.[28] Octavius Winslow, a contemporary of Charles Spurgeon and J.C. Ryle, said:

“Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy; but the Father, for love!”

It was A.W. Pink that said:

“Christ died not in order to make God love us, but because He did love His people. Calvary is the supreme demonstration of Divine love. Whenever you are tempted to doubt the love of God, Christian reader, go back to Calvary.”

Let us end with the words to the song we regularly sing, Jesus Died My Soul to Save:[29]

“I stand amazed at Your love for me
That lonely night in Gethsemane
This sinner’s heart can’t help but thrill
To hear You pray, Father not my will
What depth of love, what reach of grace
Oh how my grateful heart now aches
To sing it louder the refrain
Jesus died my soul to save
Atonement full applied to me
The blood that spilled at Calvary
Has swallowed all my guilt and shame
I’m reconciled in Jesus’ name
What depth of love, what reach of grace
Oh how my grateful heart now aches
To sing it louder the refrain
Jesus died my soul to save
Oh such pleasure, oh such pain
The Father’s wrath and fury lay
On Christ who saves and angels praise
Jesus died my soul to save
Come you broken, bound by sin
And let your weary journey end
Come and lay your burdens down
Where mercy rules and peace abounds
What depth of love, what reach of grace
Oh how my grateful heart now aches
To sing it louder the refrain
Jesus died my soul to save”

[1] Isaiah 53:4

[2] Matthew 7:6

[3] The Annals, Tacitus; Book 15, Chapter 44

[4] The Antiquities of the Jews, Flavius Jospehus; Book XVIII, Chapter 3, Section 3

[5] The Antiquities of the Jews, Flavius Jospehus; Book XX, Chapter 9, Section 1

[6] 1 Corinthians 1:18

[7] Melito, 5. Translation by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers; VIII:757

[8] Matthew 1:21-23

[9] 1 Corinthians 15:22; Ephesians 2:11-13

[10] Romans 3:25-26

[11] Mark 15:25

[12] Matthew 27:40

[13] Matthew 27:42-43

[14] Luke 23:34

[15] Isaiah 53:8

[16] Matthew 26:42

[17] Ezekiel 18:20

[18] John 3:16

[19] 1 John 4:10

[20] Philippians 2:8

[21] Luke 23:44

[22] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Mark 9-16, John MacArthur; Page 376

[23] Galatians 3:13

[24] 2 Corinthians 5:21a

[25] 1 Peter 2:24

[26] Isaiah 53:5-6,8,10

[27] Luke 23:46

[28] 1 John 4:10; 1 Peter 3:18

[29] Jesus Died My Soul to Save, Matt Boswell and Michael Farren

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