Yesterday, I preached from Mark 15:16-41 on the cross of Christ. While Caiaphas and Pilate had political motives in the death of Jesus, the overarching plan of redemption was governing the death of Christ on that dark Friday afternoon. The Trinity was involved in the death of Christ, and we can rest assured that God accomplished everything necessary to save sinners as the Christ was crushed on a Roman cross.
The Mocking of the Messiah
Jesus had been turned over to the Romans for the legal execution since the Jews didn’t have the authority to do it themselves. They had the religious right under the Law, but not the civil right since they were occupied by Rome. The Jewish leaders told the Roman authorities that Jesus had claimed to be the King of the Jews. In other words, Jesus was claiming to be the long promised and awaited Messiah.
The Roman soldiers (an entire battalion) gathered together to mock the Jewish Messiah! In their mocking of the Messiah of Israel, they clothed Him in a purple cloak and pressed a crown of thorns on His brow.
The Crucifixion of the Christ
When we read, “they crucified him” we must have the picture of a wooden cross and Jesus willfully laying Himself down on this torture device to die as the Lamb of God. Crucifixion was invented by the Persians and practiced by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Egyptians, and Romans. The Romans perfected the art of crucifixion. They had crucified over 30k by the day that Jesus was hung on the cross. The Romans referred to the cross as “the infamous stake.”
The place of the crucifixion was Golgotha, a place reserved for criminals to be executed. On that hill, the Son of God was crucified. Consider the immense physical pain of the crucifixion. With each movement of the body, the pain of death was bearing down upon the body. From the nails piercing the hands and feet to the slaughtered back rubbing up and down upon the wooden cross—the pain Jesus suffered was unthinkable. Isaac Watts wrote:
Alas, and did my Saviour bleed?
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
The Death of the Deliverer
As Jesus was dying on the cross, darkness covered the sky. Charles Spurgeon said, “It was midnight at midday!” At the very moment of His death, Jesus cried out: Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani? This is an Aramaic phrase meaning, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The Father was crushing the Son (see Isaiah 53).
As Jesus died, the temple veil was torn in two from top to bottom. This signified the fact that Jesus was the true Mediator between God and men. It likewise pointed out that Jews and Gentiles could approach the throne of grace through Jesus Christ. After Jesus died, the centurion said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” When faced with the death of Jesus, He was convinced. He was brought from a state of unbelief to a state of faith in the Son of God.
Years ago, a renowned scholar named E.V. Rieu completed a translation of Homer into modern English for the Penguin Classics series. At the time of his work, he was 60 years of age. Soon thereafter, Penguin undertook a new translation of the Bible, but soon they had to abort their work due to some overlap with another translation that was taking place at the time. However, Penguin decided to enter into a project of the translation of the Gospels. They asked E.V. Rieu, an agnostic scholar, if he would take on the project. He agreed. E.V. Rieu’s son made a statement at the beginning of the project. He said, “It will be interesting to see what Father will make of the four Gospels. It will be even more interesting to see what the four Gospels make of Father.”
Through his work of translating the four Gospels into English from the original Greek text, E.V. Rieu, this brilliant agnostic scholar, came to a point where he submitted to Jesus Christ as his Lord. The Christ he had long rejected and denied was clearly the risen Lord of glory – the Savior of sinners.
The gospel changed E.V. Rieu’s life. What about you?