Gospel Insights

by Michael Smith


Chapter Three


Please read Mark 15:20-39


A few days before the Lord's crucifixion, on what has since become known as 'Palm Sunday', the crowds to whom He had been ministering for the past three years were shouting to Him, "HOSANNA! HOSANNA!" ("O save now!") and crying out for Him to become their King.  Yet just five days later their shout had become, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!".  How fickle people - we - can be!

The night before His crucifixion, Jesus celebrated the meal we call the 'Last Supper' with His disciples, and established here the Holy Communion for His followers.  After that meal He took His disciples into the Garden of Gethsemane, where He asked them to wait for Him while He prayed in great anguish of spirit regarding what He knew He must undergo for our sakes a few hours hence [1].  Shortly afterwards, He was betrayed by one of His own disciples, and arrested.

That day, 'Good Friday', He watched His closest friends desert Him in fear that they might be arrested with Him, He endured a false trial, was severely flogged, and had a 'crown of thorns' mockingly put upon His head.  Then He was stripped naked, and crucified; nailed to a roughly hewn wooden cross and hung up in the scorching Middle East sun for many hours to die one of the slowest and most agonising deaths ever conjured up by man.

Even through all that suffering, the Lord cried out to His Father to forgive those who crucified Him "for they know not what they do", He ensured His mother would be cared for by the disciple John, and He assured the repentant thief on the cross dying beside Him that he was saved from his sins and would be with Him that very day "in paradise" [2].

At midday - the "sixth hour" - signified by "a darkness over all the earth" which lasted for three hours, the Lord Jesus Christ allowed all the sins of the world to be laid upon Him.  At the ninth hour He "cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?", and then He "gave up the ghost" [3].

In taking all our sins upon Himself; in cleansing them away with the precious blood that flowed from His head, His hands, His feet, His back, and His side, the One Who had never sinned was separated from His Father for the first time, and He died; His heart broken.  It cost Jesus everything, but it was the perfect sacrifice; the only sacrifice possible to remove man's sin.  It was the innocent taking the punishment due to the guilty.

How may we think of this?  It is a bit like having an enormous debt that would send someone to the 'debtors prison'.  Worse, a debt that is un-payable, so that the debtor could never become free, but then having the debt paid in full by the very judge who had had to pass that sentence required by the law.  All the debtor need do is accept the judge's payment on his behalf and go free.  Without Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for us, we are in as hopeless situation as is that debtor; we are all separated from God by our sins with no hope at all of reaching heaven by ourselves.  But Jesus' death on Calvary removed every obstacle between us and our Holy and Righteous God and restored our relationship with Him.  It gave us His gift of eternal life if we recognise we are lost and, like the debtor, accept His perfect and complete payment for our sins.

Calvary was the greatest battle ever fought in the whole of human history.  The Lord Jesus was completely victorious and it is that victory we celebrate on Resurrection Day.



[1]  Matthew 26:36-46.          [2]  Luke 23:34;  John 19:25-27;  Luke 23:39-43.          [3]  Luke 23:44-45;  Mark 15:34;  Mark 15:37.




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Michael Smith 2013