We will be studying Mark 15:21-(possibly)47 in our exploration of the gospel of Mark this Sunday.
Jesus has been tried, condemned and brought before the powers of Rome, who have determined to crucify Him for political reasons. All of this was predicted by Jesus before hand.
Mark’s gospel is unique in all the accounts because Mark provides so few details about Jesus during this time. There is no description of Jesus’ other words spoken just before and during His time on the cross, other than what he says in v34. It has been suggested that Mark’s viewpoint then, is not at the foot of the cross looking up…but rather a view from the cross looking around.
From this vantage point we see Simone the Cyrenian press-ganged into carrying Jesus’ cross. He and his sons are mentioned in such a way that we would think they are well known to the readers who originally recieved this gospel. Tradition says that they became leaders in the early church.
We see from Mark’s view the solders who try to offer Jesus pain killers, and then once their grizzly task is completed, begin dividing up Jesus’ clothing as the spoils of their job.
Looking to the right and left, we see two other men on crosses. Robbers, it says in the text, though that could have been a generic term used to describe people who stirring trouble and breaking laws. They may have been the very men Barabbas was chained up with when Jesus took his place.
From the cross, we see the passers by…the ones who probably have heard about this teacher from up north who thinks He’s the Messiah. Now they see Him on a cross, and begin jeering and taunting Him, because in their minds, this proves Jesus isn’t the Messiah they’ve been waiting for.
The religious leaders are there too. When the mocking begins, they don’t urge people to mercy. There is no kindness demonstrated in spite of their disagreement with Him. They don’t say “listen, this guy’s suffering already, lets not add to it, lets pray for Him.” No. They join in the mockery.
Darkness descends, the atmosphere becomes strangely ominous. Jesus gives one final cry, and dies. One final character stands at the foot of that cross, and we see him looking up at Jesus. He says “Truly, this man was the Son of God.”
What are your thoughts on the cross, at least from Mark’s description of it? Mark’s gospel was the earliest one written, and if all we had was Mark’s account of this….what would we make of it? What do you think Mark’s view from the cross tells us? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
7 thoughts on “A View From the Cross”
I Think Mark got it right. There’s a lot of details in there even though it reads like a “reader’s digest” version of the story we all know by heart. The Cross killed Jesus the man. He was in extreme pain and agony and cried out to his father; “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”-“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” but again he knew the answer before he asked the question. It was the cup of death he alone must drink to fulfill his destiny. It was at this moment of his human body’s death that he became God. Mark says it was the ‘centurion’ who was in front of Jesus when he died and said “Surely this man was the Son of God!” He was a Roman officer. He knew Jesus from earlier when Jesus had saved his slave.(see Matt.8:5-13). This man had great faith and he knew what he was talking about. He witnessed the end of one world and the begining of a new, greater one. Wow! Mark doesn’t mention the temple curtain being torn in two, the earthquake, tombs breaking open and holy people being raised to life (Matt.27:51-53). I can only IMAGINE! Surely this was the Son of God!!!
I love the way Mark describes The Passion from a historical, personal viewpoint. We can picture how Christ’s sacrifice was being understood and misunderstood by the different people groups and Mark listed them by name. I can close my eyes and imagine Christ on the cross and him looking down and seeing what was taking place with all of these people. Our King is a personal, relational King and he cares so much. He loved them so much, even with all their sin, that he became sin himself and endured the painful separation from his father. This is the only way we all could be part of his family. We, in our human weakness, can not even comprehend how much he loves us, but the picture of our King on the cross, and him in our place…oh what love!!!!
I actually have a few questions…
– Do we know for sure that the centurion that said “Surely this man was the Son of God!” was the same one that Jesus performed the miracle for?
– Why did they offer him sour wine when he cried out to the Lord? Why did they think he was crying out to Elijah?
– Why was Pilate surprised he was already dead?
– When was he crusified? When it says that it got dark is it just talking about nightfall or something else, (like an eclipse).
Sorry…just some random questions I was curious about.
Good insights everyone.
1)We don’t know that it was the same centurion, and in reality, it’s probably unlikely because that centurion was in Capernaum, way to the north of Jerusalem, and was more than likely stationed there, which is why the people were vouching for him (in Luke’s account, ch 7:1-10). It’s possible that he was called to Jerusalem for extra security during Passover…but there’s no way of knowing for sure.
2) In the other accounts, Jesus is crying out that He’s thirsty, so they would have offered that to ease his suffering. Sour wine, or wine vinegar mixed with water was a common drink in that time and region.
3) They thought He was calling for Elijah, because in Hebrew, Jesus cried out (phonetically) “Ay-lo-EE'”, and Elijah was pronounced “Ay-lee-YAH”…and in His stress and strain He probably wasn’t enunciating all that clearly, so that those who weren’t hanging on every word mistook what He said.
4) Pilate was surprised at how quickly Jesus expired because it normally took a long time for a person to die on a cross, sometimes days. It is still considered one of the most prolonged and painful ways a human can be executed. Jesus suffered a brutal beating before going to the cross, but we also learn that Jesus was in control of what was happening here, and He had the power over life and death on the cross.
5) Jesus was crucified in the late morning, and by the third hour, in the afternoon, it became supernaturally dark. It may have been an eclipse…some imagine it as thunderstorms…but it could very well have been God demonstrating His control over all natural things, and dimming the lights during this solemn event.
Thanks for asking these questions…by dealing with them here, I can spend less time on these details Sunday morning!
Thanks for answering so quickly. I’m looking forward to seeing the broader meanings on Sunday! 🙂
Mark’s view of Jesus’ view from the cross:
Jesus saw politicians. Someone said that anyone who is capable of getting themselves elected to political office should on no account be allowed to do the job.
Jesus saw Simone the Cyrenian who carried the cross and then became a leader in the early church. “Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.” Luke 12:48 NLT
Jesus saw the soldiers offering Him drugs to minimize his pain. There are those who will offer us alternative ways to facing the cold, harsh truth. Then they’ll take everything we’ve got and sell it for more dope. Talk about harsh.
Jesus saw the thieves on the crosses next to Him, but where did Barabbas go? Many who are rescued by Jesus go right back to where they left off. It’s sobering to think of how that cross was not originally made for Jesus, but it was made for one who represented us. Like Barabbas, we’re the ones who deserve the punishment. Also like Barabbas, the life of God’s lamb was sacrificed in our place.
Jesus sees the passersby waiting for Him to come down. “Maybe He’s waiting for Elijah,” they say. “Maybe we’ll see Elijah return in the chariot of gold he left in, and by now he’ll have had time to collect a king’s ransom in gold that will help build our kingdom.” People have always been looking for a worldly way out of suffering. Even Solomon sarcastically remarked that money is the answer to everything ( Ecc. 10:9).
Jesus sees the religious leaders. Theirs is the greater judgment. By the way, men were the religious leaders at the time and have historically continued to be. We’ve made the statement that the ground is level at the foot of the cross, but there were no women on the crosses beside Jesus. Perhaps men are held more accountable as the leaders of the human race. The first part of Luke 12:48 NLT says: “But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly.” Jesus knew they didn’t know He was their Messiah.
Jesus saw women. They were huddled together; the ones who had done the prepping, and they’ll be the ones to do the clean up.
Jesus saw the Centurion. We’ve probably all had doubts, but at some point we are faced with a crossroads where we must choose what we really believe. “Truly, this man was the Son of God.”
Mark’s view from the cross tells us that God sees and loves each of his creations and provides for everything that every organism on this planet needs. He also knows which of us will receive his love and which will not, but He still provides equally for us all. Jesus’ experience on the cross also tells us that He holds the key to living, dying and starting over. The key is in the shape of a cross, and it holds enough truth, love and freedom to fill eternity and infinity.
It’s me, the ‘eleventh hour participant’.
Here are my thoughts of interest w/out detail (too much anyway)…
1. Darkness came over the whole land…how relevant a sign of Israel’s coming darkness and what the Jewish people have endured over the centuries. And would not one of the mocking Jews in the crowd have recalled the prophetic words of God through Amos 8:9 and heed the message? It was a gentile who made the observation that Jesus was the son of God.
2. Jesus cried out in a LOUD voice…having been beaten to such a degree, then experienced the pain of being nailed and hung to that beam- who would expect a human being could cry out w/vigor? Maybe that’s why the centurion made his statement. Only one with divine presence could have the strength to cry out w/a LOUD voice at that point, no?
3. Eloi, Eloi, lama sabach-thani? Christ never complained or questioned any of the things that he had to endure, but the separation from His Father- How it wounded his spirit. (Oh, that I could be of such a spirit to complain of nothing but that!)
4. If they were so indignant to Christ, why would the soldiers offer him pain relief after all they had inflicted upon him? Did they think him delirious to be crying out for Elijah? Where they preparing for a long shift since (we’re told) it sometimes took days for a man to die by crucifixion, and didn’t want to hear him ‘babble on’? Could it have offended their ears and convicted their hearts to hear him speak from there?
5. How frightened of the contemptuous crowd the women must have been to be watching from a distance. More so, the boys were no where to be found?
I love that Joseph from A. went BOLDLY to Pilate.
One question: Did Mark see first hand the veil being torn? Would anyone at the cross be able to observe that event or was it more likely the temple Priests giving account to Mark and others?
Really enjoyed everyone’s input on this passage.
Looking forward to what God reveals to us on this through Rob’s teaching. See ya Sunday!