The core affirmation of the Christian faith is the amazing claim that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14) died. The death of Jesus was not an accident, but the purposive plan of God. Jesus did not die as a victim. He voluntarily surrendered His life to death as He died for the sins of humanity.
Death does not mark the end of the story. The one victorious in the manner of His death also displayed victory in His conquest of the last enemy death itself.
The Gospel of Mark begins, “The beginning of the gospel (good news) of Jesus Messiah, the Son of God.”
Mark wrote his account to encourage people to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. Throughout this Gospel, God Himself and demonic forces acknowledged the status of Jesus as Son of God.
Now in the climatic events of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the fullest revelation of Jesus as Son of God occurs.
What does Mark’s narrative reveal about the person and ministry of Jesus? Mark describes two important matters to keep in mind as we read the narrative of Jesus’ mockery and crucifixion. First, the events of Good Friday fulfilled Scripture. Second, Jesus was in full control.
First, humans may mock Jesus, but He is truly the King (Mk. 15:16-20). Earlier the Jewish leadership mocked Jesus. Now Mark describes three acts of mockery on the part of the Roman soldiers: kingly dress, royal crown, royal greeting, and parody of royal homage. Purple was an expensive dye and the color became associated with royalty. Rather than the thorns in the crown turned inward to His head, most New Testament scholars think the thorns turned outward—a royal crown in which the points of the crown pointed like rays of sunlight from a radiant king. Ironically lost to the soldiers was the truth that Jesus indeed was King.
Second, the death of Jesus expressed the judgment of God (Mk. 15:33-34). Mark set forth two key theological truths of crucifixion.
First, the death of Jesus was a judgment from God. No natural explanation exists for the three hours of darkness; a supernatural act of God caused the darkness.
Old Testament prophets used the concept of darkness to express God’s judgment (Isa. 60.2; Amos 8:9; Zeph. 1:14-15). Darkness came over the land of Egypt prior to God’s mighty act of deliverance (Ex. 10:21-22), likewise darkness came over the land prior to God’s mighty act of deliverance through the new Passover lamb Jesus.
Second, Jesus experienced the abandonment as He bore the sins of humanity. Jesus quoted Ps. 22:1. The disciples of Jesus abandoned Him, likewise Jesus felt forsaken by God due to His role as sin-bearer.
Third, Jesus died as the victor (Mk. 15:37-39). Normally, crucified individuals died from asphyxiation. No one took Jesus life from Him. He gave His life. He cried out with a loud voice of victory as He died. As Jesus died, God tore the veil of the temple to communicate that the necessity of animal sacrifices ended and that Jesus provided a “new and living” way into relationship with God (Heb. 10:19-20). One witness to the death, the Roman official in charge, confessed Jesus as the Son of God—the response Mark sought to elicit from his readers.
Fourth, the Jesus victorious in the manner of His death likewise victoriously defeated death (Mk. 16:1-8). Women were not allowed to testify in a Jewish court of law, yet God called them to be witnesses to the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. God wants all believers to proclaim the message, “He is Risen.”
The message to the disciples communicated forgiveness and re-commission in light of their failure.
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