Gracious Father, I bow before You in this holiest of hours. I praise You for Your incomprehensible love.
Read Mark 15:21-32
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Christianity is not just about the historical fact that Jesus was crucified; it is about the astonishing and thrilling truth that he died that we might be forgiven” (Alister McGrath).
The ascription, “King of the Jews,” was intended as a cruel mockery. For the Romans, Jesus was just another failed revolutionary. His crucifixion showed the emptiness and futility of the claim. It was also intended as a slur on the Jews, which is why they asked Pilate to change it (John 19:21,22). Pilate is rubbing in their subservient status. And yet the words are a statement of ultimate truth. He was indeed King of the Jews, and of the Romans and of all people. Pilate’s authority was limited, and given by a higher power.
The mockery of the Jewish leaders is somewhat ironic. Jesus has saved others, bringing them physical well-being and a new acceptance with the Father. He is now powerless to save himself by coming down from the cross. What they do not understand is that it is precisely by refusing to save himself that he becomes the Savior of the world. This section has references to Psalm 22, which, as we shall see, was clearly in Jesus’ mind at this point. As the early church reflected on this, they saw other parallels (v. 24, see Psa. 22:18; v. 29, see Psa. 22:7; v. 34, see Psa. 22:1). The wine with myrrh was used as an analgesic, but Jesus has another cup to drink (14:36; 10:38), thus carrying out the plan of salvation determined before creation.
The onlookers miss all this, and with it their opportunity for salvation. Many people today still feel that Jesus is unworthy of their faith, perhaps because they have not seen him as he really is. We have a responsibility to ensure that the Jesus whom we present to the world is not one who reflects our own interests and character but the radical, uncompromising, and yet attractive, Jesus of the Bible.
What aspects of Jesus’ character and work do your friends most need to see? Think and pray about how you might present Jesus to them.
Lord, there is something compelling and powerful about the cross. I bow in reverence and thanksgiving for this death that has given me life.
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